Just Plane Funny

By Gene Weingarten
Sunday, June 19, 2005

Where in the united states these days would you least expect to find the deft use of humor? (Other than this column.) The airport, right?

It's not as though, in the past, you could jovially saunter up to a ticket counter like Wile E. Coyote, carrying a black bowling ball labeled "BOMB," with a burning fuse. Airports have always frowned on that sort of thing. But I do recall a time when you could enjoy a laugh at the airport beyond just seeing someone's big toe sticking out of a hole in his sock.

So I couldn't help noticing the other day when I heard a recorded flight safety message for Independence Air. The announcement told you what to do "in the event of a water landing," and then said, "Hey, shouldn't 'landing' be in quotation marks?"

That got my attention. Then the announcement went on to suggest -- I repeat, this is an official, FAA-approved, recorded flight safety message -- that, when you are bobbing in the ocean in your life vests, it might be fun to play "Marco Polo."

It turns out that Independence Air -- in a bid to improve the flying experience that is either foolhardy or brilliant, or both -- has given someone what might just be the greatest job on Earth: basically, being an enormous jackass. And they picked the right guy!

Dave George, 36, is a professional comedian; I first met him a couple of years ago when I judged a local stand-up comedy contest, which he won. He's since appeared in Vegas, New York, Atlantic City and many lesser venues, sometimes earning as much as $20 a night; this pretty much explains why his main paycheck comes from Independence Air, where he performs as "The FLYi Guy."

Dave let me tag along with him recently, as he did his thing with a mike at Gate A3 at Dulles Airport:

"This is a public service announcement for all colorblind customers who are reading their complimentary hotel-edition copies of USA Today. The gray section is Sports. The gray section is Life. And the gray section is Money."

And:

"Independence Air is paging the passenger who valet-parked his Corvette Sting Ray . . . Congratulations. Your car just won the drag race in the employee parking lot!"

And:

"The weather in Newark is calm, 72 degrees. The weather in Syracuse is calm, 72 degrees. The weather in Hartford is calm, 72 degrees. Oh, wait, I'm sorry, I'm looking at the weather here in the terminal."


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