Pam Ann in "Cockpit"
It was probably inevitable that Pam Ann would be flying into Hell’s Kitchen during Fleet Week. As she riffed during her opening monologue at "Cockpit," her two-weekend XL gig, she really loves a man in uniform. Or two. Or three. Or five. At one time.
Or so she says. Now, I’m no expert in the female anatomy, but I hadn’t realized that women had that many available orifices. No matter: Pam probably attaches to men like an octopus. That Pam is a get-down, no-nonsense slut will come as no surprise to those of who count ourselves among her most rabid fans.
A gay man trapped in a woman’s body, Pam Ann’s unique brand of stand-up, which veers way beyond the typical red-brick-wall-backed Comedy Central/late-night monologist, ventures more closely into the performance art of people like Karen Finley, Tim Miller or Penny Arcade.
That’s not to say she’s artsy. Far from it. But when comedy is this sublime, it wobbles into the realm of Low Art. If highbrow critics can’t see it, her devoted audience does.
Like Jerry Lewis and the French, Pam Ann appeals to a certain demographic; namely gay men and flight attendants. I realize a Venn diagram of those two circles would heavily intersect, and at her shows, there are always many gay flight attendants, hooting and hollering at her razor-edged putdowns of each airline’s personnel. But there is also a healthy smattering of stewardesses (does anyone still call them that?), including the two drop-dead gorgeous women sitting behind me.
This was the fourth time I’ve seen Pam Ann, and the first time in a couple of years. The XL show marks a definite departure from those other experiences, which repeated several gags and riffs. All of the new material was as funny as any of the old, but I did miss the acting-out of the ways in which attendants pointedly ignore passengers (while driving a drinks cart, Pam would mutter, "tinkle glass;" "putter putter").
I really missed the old ending, in which Pam, having taken out a heaping bag of Special K, shoved it up her nose and proceeded to go into the atmosphere while the plane went in for landing.
Still, it’s hard to complain about a comic who wants to move beyond old material, especially when the industry she is satirizing itself continues to reach new heights of absurdity. Pam did mention the infamous Steven Slater Jet Blue meltdown, but I thought she could have done more with it.
I also was hoping she would tackle some recent incidents, such as the Frenchwoman who caused a USAirways plane to be diverted after she "confessed" to having a surgically planted device. The much-documented excesses of TSA pat downs are certainly ripe for Pam’s unique brand of airline humor -- not to mention the enduring suspicion of Muslim passengers. (Speaking of religion, while talking about El-Al, Israel’s national airline, she notes that she’d like to be an Orthodox Jew because they don’t even "have to push a fucking button" on the Sabbath.)
What’s being presented at XL is material that, as usual, is all business class, no coach. If you’re regularly subjected to the indignities of modern air travel or just need a good laugh, board at XL and fasten your seat belt, because Pam Ann always guarantees a bumpy ride.