Watching Pan Am the other day inspired me to dig out my DVD of Pam Ann’s live show, Come Fly with Me (2007). For those who don’t know, Pam Ann is the “air hostess” alter-ego of Australian comedienne Caroline Reid, who has developed a cult following around the world, and even attracted A-list celebrity admirers like Madonna, Elton John and Dannii Minogue! Oh, okay… so maybe Dannii isn’t exactly “A-list”, but I included her name because I think the company that Reid keeps is quite telling… in the sense that all of these entertainers have a sizeable gay following, and none of them are particularly renowned for their subtlety, insight or wit.
Maybe that’s a little harsh, but Pam Ann’s style of humour is extremely broad… to the point of being borderline racist at times. If you think that someone shouting gibberish in a vaguely “Arabic” accent is funny, then Pam’s your gal… but considering the effort that was put into the character’s costumes and the presentation of the DVD, I have to say I was expecting something with a little more depth and craft. I mean, the idea of building a stand-up routine around the history of air-travel, the culture of tourism, the mingling/clashing of national identities, and post-9/11 paranoia is a damn good one… but that’s not what you get here. It’s not even really a “stand-up show” in any conventional sense… more of a burlesque based around a lot of audience interaction, random blowjob gags (pun!), and industry in-jokes that just seemed extremely alienating to an infrequent flyer like me. Basically, if you’re a flamboyantly homosexual who happens to travel on planes a lot (either for work or for pleasure), this will probably be the funniest thing you’ve ever watched in your life… but I don’t see it holding much appeal for anyone else. That said, Pam is a sell-out act in numerous countries, who’s constantly touring, and even has a second live DVD in the works… so clearly she’s working her niche for all it’s worth, and I can’t knock her for that. At certain points in the show the audience even shout out her catchphrases along with her, so clearly she has a very loyal fan base… but this is the second time I’ve watched this DVD, and sadly I can’t count myself among them.
Oh, there’s a short film clip at the end of the show introducing us to Pam’s “Global Alliance”, in which Reid portrays various different flight attendants from around the world… often via vaguely offensive stereotypes… but I was amused by how much her EasyJet character ‘Donna’ resembles ‘Kelly’ from Misfits. Obviously they’re both “chavs” with ponytails, hoop earrings, and aggressive manners… but it’s the bright orange coveralls that really sell it!