If you have never seen Pam Ann perform, chances are that you will never have seen much like it. Her website claims that she is “unique in the world of comedy”, and this can only be a good thing. She’s an Aussie comedienne based in New York with a penchant for air travel and (judging by the picture on her website) thongs – “ooh, Matron!”.
Her real name is Caroline Reid, who is apparently a lot more low-key and reserved than her alter-ego, Pam, who “says what she likes and makes a scene”. It seems that there must be funny things to draws out of air travel; David Walliams’ and Matt Lucas’ Come Fly with Me was aired on BBC 1 to an audience which averaged 10.3 million over the six episodes. So, in much the same way as Al Murray, for example, positions himself as ‘Pub Landlord’, Ms Reid likes to perform as Pam Ann: the air stewardess.
She insists that air travel chose her, and she was “lucky that it was something everyone could relate to.” Except that’s all there is to it. Her website does its best to explain where the comedy lies: “She takes passengers on a raucous journey from check-in to security to boarding to, hopefully, landing. Along the way, she pokes fun at air travel, the quirks of some of the biggest international airlines and some of the stereotypes commonly held about flight attendants everywhere.” Even having read this I was not particularly captivated.
However, with such a unique alter-ego I was interested to learn how she categorised herself as a performer, or if she did at all. Her reply? “One big Hot Mess!” This must refer to her on-stage presence; in the attire of a 1970’s air hostess (apparently before sexism really became a ‘thing’), she is making a statement. Exactly what statement she’s making is up for interpretation: her look is a cross between those controversial Virgin Atlantic adverts which drew complaints of sexism (dismissed by the Advertising Standards Agency) and a Bratz toy doll. I ask her how she feels about the Virgin Atlantic adverts, and she “loves them!” Does she feel they’re sexist, though? She skirts the topic (excuse the pun) with a few clichés and umming and erring: ”Sexist, mmmm, that’s debatable! Sex sells!”
Her sexy air hostess look is no doubt ironic, a satire of the air hostess world, and, she certainly has found it sells: she sold out New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom, San Francisco’s Castro Theatre, Sydney’s State Theatre and Melbourne’s Athenaeum. In the UK, she sold out 3 shows at the Hammersmith Apollo and is currently touring the UK. After Cher’s manager saw Pam Ann perform live, he approached her and asked her to join the pop star herself on her Farewell Tour. Pam Ann describes the pop-star as “very down to earth with a wicked sense of humour”.
Pam Ann is undoubtedly successful: she counts both Madonna and Elton John among her fans. And success means travel – she must get a lot of material from just going to shows. In an attempt to secure a funny anecdote, I ask what the worst thing that has ever happened to her while travelling is. She replies that being downgraded to economy is the worst thing that could happen to anyone – I think she’s joking. I ask if wishes she were a real air hostess, but apparently she hates the general public, so this would be no good. If you feel you’d share Elton John’s and Madonna’s taste in comedy, don’t hesitate to give her a swift YouTube; my feeling is you’ll quickly be back to watching Manatee VS Glass.
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