A review of Pam Ann: cockpits, coke pits, and flying high in the friendly skies

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Lining up for Pam Ann’s June 12th comedy show Flight 72, at Stage 72 at the Triad, I started to sweat like a nun in church.

Ostensibly because there was no air conditioning in the venue on a hot, sticky New York summer night. But also because of the raunchy comedy I was about to witness – with glee and no small bit of delighted horror.

Pam Ann, the campy air hostess alter ego of Australian comic Caroline Reid, has sold out shows worldwide and performed personally for Elton John – serving up in-flight entertainment for the fortieth birthday of his partner, David Furnish.

All airlines have witty sobriquets – for example, Air France (Air France, Air Chance), Delta (Doesn’t Ever Leave The Airport), Cathay Pacific (Crash in Pacific), or TWA (Tramps, Whores and Alcoholics). But Pam Ann (a spinoff of Pan Am) takes wit to a new level. Add smut, sexy swagger, pure outrageousness, and anything politically incorrect, and you’ve got the idea.

This particular night, she gleefully lambasted airlines from Air France and EasyJet to Alitalia and Qantas. Being a dyed-in-the-wool Francophile, however, I lapped up her skewering of Air France. Unbearably chic Air France flight attendants inhale air for sustenance – so thin they disappear when turning sideways. Imitating a JFK air-traffic controller in a perfect Taxi Driver New York accent, she shouts, “Air France! You are NOT cleared for takeoff.” Air France, undaunted, nonchalantly replies, “We are going.”

Yet no airline was safe.

EasyJet, Pam Ann’s favorite scapegoat, went down in tragi-comic flames. The hopeless cabin crew never actually goes anywhere (they say they travel to Ibiza, but never disembark the plane). To make matters worse, EasyJet takes off from Gatwick, London’s underbelly of an airport – rampant with EasyJet travellers (large families going on cheap vacations).

At the end, Pam Ann – dazzling in white gloves – served cocktails to audience members while doing enormous lines of coke from an enormous mountain of coke off her shiny beverage cart.

Throughout the show, she smartly handled hecklers, drunkards, and even a gaggle of impossibly chatty French lesbians. A genius move, she used a selfie-stick to record one notorious front-row drunk, riffing off his priceless statement, “I don’t like the way things are going, they’re alarming.”

 

Lastly, her video interludes were nothing short of brilliant: spoofs of The Sound of Music and Titanic, featuring Pam Ann’s riotously crass interaction with movie characters (including several unforgettable scenes with the von Trapp children).

 

“She is Joan Rivers reincarnated as a flight attendant,” ticketholder Louise Wilson said. “I fly quite a bit, and I laughed out loud agreeing with everything she said. As crude as she is, she’s spot on.”

And that sums her up. She’s crass, she’s mean (yet never mean-spirited), and above all, she’s right. How can you argue with the truth – chased down with vodka?

While airline Pan Am has some modestly funny nicknames (chief among them, “Pilots Are Not A Must”), comedian Pam Ann is just flat-out funny. Along with Margaret Cho and Jessica Kirson, she’s one of those female comics who succeeds, wildly, on stage. Gender aside, Pam Ann is also one of the most talented stand-ups I’ve seen.

Go see her. Buckle up, grab your oxygen mask, and get ready for a turbulent ride.

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