Excess gaggage: Pam Ann lays over on Granville Island
Pam Ann, camp flight-attendant alter-ego of Australian comic Caroline Reid, is a self-described “international air hostess to the stars and beyond.” And she’s not being entirely fictional when she says that; her increasingly popular act has been blessed by such rarified gay royalty as Elton John, who famously invited her to join the cabin crew of his private jet for two flights.
However, her show doesn’t escape the occasional moments of turbulence and tedium that are all but inevitable on a long flight.
The bulk of the show is an hour-long, interactive “warm-up” where Pam digs up gloriously cheap laughs at the expense of the many airline staffers in the crowd. While her semi-improvised banter is solid, after the 30-minute mark the show starts to feel like it’s taxiing too long before take-off—she often seems like she’s about to punch the jet engines, but instead stays idling on the tarmac for another five or ten minutes, doing essentially the same shtick with yet another audience member. Interestingly, she repeatedly admits that the warm-up is overlong—“this is going to go on all night, you can leave any time you like”—but these self-deprecating asides would be better replaced with some more engaging material.
The show finally takes off in the second half, a fast-paced mélange of costume changes, songs, and film clips. Pam Ann rolls out her signature trolley-dolly routine, covers a costume change with a digitally-doctored film clip where she is cleverly inserted into the classic disaster flick Airport ’75, and brings the house down with a lip-synch piece where she passes the time on a long flight by ingesting impossible quantities of white powder. Consistently entertaining throughout, the only flaw in the show’s second half is that it doesn’t start sooner.
In sum, if you are a frequent flyer, drag aficionado, or airline staff, Pam Ann delivers all the in-flight ribbing you could ever ask for, plus the requisite camp glamour, catty put-downs, and dirty jokes one expects from a sassy bitch in a wig and too much make-up. And it’s endlessly fun to watch her revel in sucking her audience down into her vacuum-flush airline toilet of shameless filth—after a particularly ribald joke about multiple blowjobs and herpes, she neutralized a homo heckler by quipping, “Gays, you created me. You created this monster. It’s all your fault.”
And if the response of her mile-high audience is anything to go by, Pam Ann is a monster that her gay creators have no regrets about unleashing upon the world.