Australian native Caroline Reid took her love for the glory days of airport culture, peppered it with her creative wit, and came up with a cottage industry. Performing on stages all over the world as this fully-realized character – even hosting her own TV show back in Australia – this diva’s career is maintaining the highest of altitudes. And this month, Pam Ann lands in New York once again!
Thotyssey: Caroline/Pam, greetings! Are you still living in NYC? I know you relocated here from Australia some years ago.
I left Australia back in 1999 for London, and lived and worked there for 10 years before moving to New York City in 2009. I spent 8 years living in Manhattan before recently moving to Miami Beach in 2016. I’m a global citizen!
Let me relay your origin story as I understand it. You’re an Australian-born comic who came up with your kitschy, popular “Pam Ann” character as a result of a James Bond-themed birthday party you attended. Pam is a glamorous air hostess who throws back to the golden age of flying (50s through 70s) with big hair and a classy silhouette, but she can have quite the potty mouth! She’s very critical of the modern airline industry, and the people who fly today. You’d think that this would be a very limited act, but Pam has gotten quite a bit of mileage.
Flying, airlines and travel over the past 21 years has been changing on a weekly basis, so there is never a shortage of material. I was in New York performing the night the US Airways plane landed in the Hudson. This gave me an entire hour of material that evening, and for the next couple of years. Every time I seem to go on tour, something happens within the industry from the United Airlines ripping someone off the plane to a flight attendant getting caught with their pants down!
United certainly had the headlines recently! Between that passenger getting dragged off the plane for refusing to give up his seat, and later in an unrelated incident a passenger got stung by a scorpion. A bad time for for their corporate offices, but a boom for Pam!
Yes, this was fantastic for my shows. Personally, more people should be dragged off flights, United style. LOL!
Pam Ann is the patron saint of flight attendants everywhere. You really tap into the deep specifics of that world. How do you research it? Do you just fly a lot?
I am a certified plane geek – and I am very passionate about flying and the airline industry – so I am very studied on the subject. And yes, I fly a lot!
Does New York have the two worst airports in the world?
Personally I love the retro, run-down airports in NY. They are like cemeteries of the golden age of flying. Nothing beats flying in and out of LaGuardia, and I fly so much I’ve got to know all the AA airlines ground staff and airline lounge staff, which makes it extra special. LaGuardia is currently under construction, but I will miss the old airport and
it’s charm. JFK is another favorite – I worship and pray at the old Concorde Door, which still exists in the British Airways Concorde Room. Sadly it is not in use, but I go and look at it every time I fly BA from NY to LHR.
What do you think of these flight attendants who do these huge production numbers for the in-flight safety presentation? If you were there in the plane having to watch this, would you find it entertaining or irritating?
I appreciate the creativity, but I think it should be saved for the airlines’ advertising campaigns… not for safety. When I fly, I don’t want to see dancers or watch hobbits put on a seat belt! I want to see the flight attendants on the actual aircraft do the safety demonstration manually with no jokes, just a straight up safety demo. Airlines have gotten way too carried away with being clever, but they should stay in their lane… or runway!
Do you put your phone in airplane mode while in the air?
Never, I Facebook Live all of my takeoffs!
One of Trump’s first acts as President was trying to enforce a travel ban on non-US citizens. The ban wasn’t thought out well and completely backfired. Is there, like, a “right” way to do a good travel ban?
There should never be travel bans on any country or religion. I am 100% against it, banning people is not the solution.
Putting Pam aside for a moment… how often do you get to perform standup as just yourself? Is this something you’re trying to do more of?
I have been performing as myself for the last couple of months, and it’s been very interesting because I thought Pam Ann was really just me in an airline uniform. But after performing as myself, I realized Pam Ann is in a league of her own, and is not me at all. I actually became jealous of my own fucking character for being so funny, and amazed at how easy Pam Ann owns the stage.
I will be performing my new Caroline Reid show RAWR on London’s West End in December, which is frightening and also very exciting. Pam Ann, watch out bitch!
I have rebranded [that show] to RAWR; I decided to not limit myself to just talking about Tinder and fucking, with a more generic title. I can elaborate more on my life. I stay clear of anything flying and travel, as I don’t want Pam Ann breathing down my neck!
We have three dates of Pam Ann to look forward to (Nov. 11, then Dec. 1-2) at the prestigious Joe’s Pub at the Public Theatre, with a show called Miss Worldwide! How long does it take you to write material for these big shows… and how much of it is improv?
Most of my shows have a classic beginning, middle and end, with a video opener and closer, an intro number, and closing number with some classic Pam Ann chat – and then the rest is completely improvised. The best nights are when you have a connection with an audience, then all the doors in your head open and the magic happens.
I will spend hours during the day of a show thinking about everything “airline.” I will study the news, then weave it all into the night’s show. No show can ever be the same for
me once I leave the theatre; that show is done, and I have to rethink it all over again for the next night. This can leave me mentally drained after being three months on the road, but it is what keeps my shows fresh and current.
What else is on the horizon for you?
A Pam Ann TV show, movie and a book!
Amazing! So finally, the question of the century: what airline currently has the best flight attendant uniforms?
I absolutely love the latest Hainan Airlines uniform – so chic and stylish. Asian cabin crew always looks flawless. Pam Ann would find it hard to squeeze into one of those uniforms!
I bet you could pull it off! Thank you, Pam!
Some upcoming international tour dates for Pam Ann:
- Joe’s Pub New York City 11th November, 1st and 2nd December
- Castro Theatre San Francisco 9th December
- Two Brewers London 17th December
- Sunshine Cathedral Ft Lauderdale Florida 31st Dec NYE
- Australian, European and London dates
announced early 2018
And some dates for “Caroline Reid: RAWR”:
- London Leicester Square
Theatre 20th – 23rd December
- Triad Theatre New York
City 27th and 28th December