Columnist

Mike Buzzelli is a stand-up comedian and published author. His book, "Below Average Genius" is a collection of essays culled from his weekly humor column here in the Observer-Reporter.

Right before the pandemic, I went to Australia with my friends, Harry and Brian. We flew off from Pittsburgh on a Friday and arrived on a Sunday. Even though we crossed the International Date Line, it was a long journey.

When we touched down in Melbourne, we headed straight to the baggage carousel.

Side note: The baggage carousel sounds way more fun than it is. I expect calliope music, a cotton candy machine and baggage handlers dressed up like clowns.

But I digress, like I do. My friends retrieved their bags and I stood waiting. And waiting. My bag never popped out of the chute.

A few minutes later, I learned that my suitcase went on to Sydney without me. My friend, Harry, turned to me and said, “This is just like in your book, ‘All I Want for Christmas.’”

“You’ve read it?” I inquired.

He responded, “Just the first chapter.”

In “All I Want for Christmas,” my character Kate loses her luggage. Later, she loses her job and one of her front teeth, but, by the end, she gains much more. If you’ve read it, you already know. I hope you got further along than Harry.

We were staying with our friend, Matt, who lives in Melbourne. After a complicated series of phone calls, Matt arranged to have the suitcase dropped off at his place between 9 p.m. and midnight. We spent the day sightseeing. But at 9, I was promptly back at Matt’s apartment, to wait for my luggage, while Matt, Harry and Brian went out to explore the city at night.

At 11, the door buzzer startled me. I pressed the button, and I heard an Australian man say, “I’m from the airport. I got your bag, mate.”

I jumped off the elevator, dashed through the lobby and went outside. My friends were on the sidewalk howling with laughter.

Matt had mastered the local accent and thought it would be hilarious to prank me. They almost fell over when they peered through the lobby windows and saw me bounce out of the elevator. I was very excited to be reunited with my summer casuals.

P.S. Ever hear the one about the comedian who couldn’t take a joke? It’s me. I hate being pranked. You’d think I’d be a good sport about it. You’d be wrong. Apparently, I was still carrying emotional baggage.

I cussed them out on the street.

Just then, a van pulled up. We all turned toward it, our mouths agape. I ran to it.

Additional side note: Kids, DON’T be like Mike; running toward strangers in vans in foreign countries.

The van driver came out and said, “Are you Michael?” He had the same thick Aussie accent that Matt mimicked minutes earlier.

I nodded and applauded. He handed me the bag. My suitcase and I were reunited, and it felt so good.

My friends nearly died laughing, but I had gotten the last laugh. After all, comedy is about two things: timing and delivery.

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