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‘Pick up a fresh, whole Branzino': A comedian on his Taskrabbit side hustle story that went viral on Reddit

Photo courtesy Casey James Salengo

In October 2022, stand-up comedian Casey James Salengo was balancing nightly comedy gigs with daytime hustles in his hometown of New York. Being a comedian is "very erratic" in terms of paid work, he says, so picking up various side jobs helps tide him over.

A friend told Salengo, 36, about services platform Taskrabbit and he decided to make a profile offering an array of tasks: furniture assembly, cleaning, minor home repairs, heavy lifting, moving, packing, trash removal, yard work, delivery and others.

"I set all of my prices pretty low to start so I could start getting hired," he says. He charged just $16 per hour for delivery, for example.

That low price point might've been what got him hired for a fairly odd gig. That same month, a man reached out about a delivery job that ended up going viral on Reddit.

'Pick up a birthday card,' get the weirdest one

"Hi Casey!" read Salengo's task. "I have a job that should take 30-45 minutes tops." These were its stipulations:

  • "You will need a pen"
  • "Pick up a birthday card (get the weirdest one you can find)"
  • "Write the following in the card: 'Happy birthday, Bread! I'm grateful to have someone in my life that I can send fresh fish to.'"
  • "Pick up a fresh, whole Branzino. Biggest one they've got (they're probably all around the same size, which is fine)"
  • "Drop off the fish and greeting card here, to Brad and Jess."

The task was a sort of birthday prank from one friend, Ilya, to another, Brad. Everything would be within a half mile radius.

"I didn't think twice," says Salengo. He accepted the task right away.

The fish Salengo bought Brad.
Photo courtesy Casey James Salengo
The fish Salengo bought Brad.

'Have them keep the head and tail'

The next day, Salengo set off on his task.

His first stop was CVS, where he sent Ilya photos of possible birthday cards. "These guys dance," he said of a card with dancing bananas. "Here's a beautiful cat," he said of another featuring a cat with a crown. They ended up choosing the cat.

Next, he stopped over at the Blue Water Fish Market in Queens, where he asked for the biggest branzino they had. "Have them keep the head and tail. Just take out the guts and descale it," Ilya had said.

Finally, Salengo headed over to Brad's house to deliver his gift. Along the way, Ilya decided to add one more element to the prank. "He wanted me to present the branzino to his friend," says Salengo. "And then he wanted me to hold up my fist, say, 'Branzino boys for life,'" and walk away.

Salengo happily complied, and while Brad was confused at first, eventually, he seemed to figure out what was happening. Salengo then got in his car and let Ilya know "the eagle has landed," he says. Ilya documented the whole thing and put it on YouTube.

Altogether, the task took about two hours and paid $32. Would Salengo do something like that again?

"Absolutely," he says.

Got a weird side hustle story? Tell us about it at Gili.Malinsky@nbcuni.com.

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