The Five People You Meet in Heaven (While Flying on Spirit Airlines)

airline passengers You jet first class when you fly to Paris with your Louis Vuitton luggage. You’re a member of the Admiral’s Club and wouldn’t be caught dead sitting in an airline boarding area. Richard Branson is on speed dial and you’re weighing a trip into space. Flying for you is like brushing the face of God with your immaculate manicured fingertips.

But, you’re Harvard educated and trained to be curious. You wonder, “How do the poor folk fly? Those wretches you read about in the Wall Street Journal. The ignominious 99 percenters.” Let your inner anthropologist be satisfied. As a graduate of one of the lesser Ivies, I will share with you the five people I met in Heaven, while flying on Spirit Airlines.

Mr. Nike. Mr. Nike is in the aisle seat. I can’t avoid noticing that he is apparently allergic to deodorant. He is all knees and elbows, mostly in my rib cage. He kicks off his Nikes, which he may have purchased at Goodwill after the 1988 Olympics, and a mysterious odor tantalizes my nostrils. The smell plays with me, taunting me to identify it. Sulfurous rotten eggs? That takeout container I found in the back of the fridge? My great aunt’s gefiltefish? I double check to make sure my seat is equipped with a motion sickness bag. This may be a discount airline but they don’t want me vomiting on the carpet.

Grandma and Mr. Wickams. Grandma is already wedged into the window seat, a Vera Bradley vision of Paula Dean at a Weight Watcher’s convention. Did she have an industrial accident with her dollar store eau du toilette this morning? Within five minutes, I am developing a migraine. Grandma has photos of her 27 grandchildren? And, Grandma has Mr. Wickams. He is such a good kitty. He is such a beautiful kitty. He is such a brave kitty to fly on such big plane with Grandma. Is it the flying or Grandma’s nauseating flattery? Mr. Wickams has diarrhea 30 minutes after take-off. Have you ever smelled cat diarrhea? Thank God for the motion sickness bag.

Super Mario. Kids take to planes like ducks to water. If you know how to wrangle them. Super Mario has a hand-held game that boops and beeps incessantly. He kicks the back of my seat the entire flight. I hate to complain and seem anti-child. On a discount airline, they don't enforce the headset rules. The flight crew is too poorly paid to care if rules are followed or passengers are comfortable. Super Mario has a tantrum worthy of an Oscar when he has to turn off his game for take-off and landing. This is one child I would leave behind.

Charlie the Tuna. Yes, fish is good for you. Yes, fish oil reduces cholesterol and can be part of a heart-healthy diet. But, no, a tuna-and-onion sandwich do not belong on an airplane. Enough said.

Spanky and the Gang. As soon as the seat-belt sign goes off, a large horde of children who have been plied with caffeinated beverages and sugary treats take over the back of the plane. Oblivious that we are in hurtling through space in a small enclosed metal capsule insulated with hard plastic surfaces, they begin rambunctious games that involve high-pitched squeals of delight for the next three hours. They run up and down the aisles, spilling snacks and elbowing passengers in the aisle seats. The flight crew is too busy charging folks $5 a bottle for water and making sure we don’t congregate at the lavatory to stop the shenanigans. 

Yes, this is how the 99 percent fly. Enjoy first class. If we hit Mount Everest, you die first, a crystal goblet of Moët & Chandon in your manicured hand.

Gretchen Martens is a DCH graduate who performs with Been There Done That and Brain Wearing Pants. When she’s not working as an executive coach and trainer, she writes satire for her blog She is finishing her first play, sanINity, an irreverent look at losing a loved one to mental illness.


Web of Laughs: Absurdist Comedy

Monty Python There are very few movies that I can remember the exact moment I watched them for the first time, or exactly how I felt when I watched it for the first time. One of the very few, if not the most engrained in my memory, is Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I don’t remember how old I was exactly, somewhere south of 11, I think, and I was at my dad’s house and he specifically wanted to show me his favorite movie. I settled in to watch it, and while I’m sure my 11-year-old brain did not really comprehend the jokes (I’m not even sure if my 25-year-old brain can catch them all to this day), I remember laughing the hardest I have probably ever laughed before. The next few months of my life were spent re-watching and over-quoting “It’s just a flesh wound.” Its thick, heavy-handed absurdity was really the first of its kind that I had seen.

Absurdist comedy, while rooted in the same reality as dark comedy, has no qualms in abandoning that same reality after only briefly establishing it. Absurdist comedy takes casual situations and then relies on zero logic, which is what makes it so fun to watch. It’s not bound to one specific style, and as seen in The Holy Grail, can switch between subtitled footnotes, a typical medieval comedy, and then a cartoon. Because of the frequent stylistic choices and changes, the general plot line throughout these comedies tends to remain simple. Essentially, The Holy Grail is just the story of King Arthur and his knights in search for the Holy Grail.

The Holy Grail was certainly an original for its time, but going back to the silent era, you can see its influences from films such as The Marx Brothers' Duck Soup. The Holy Grail also had a lot of contemporaries around its time, in the midst of what seemed like the golden age of absurdist comedy. Five years after The Holy Grail, Airplane! came around and brought the same level of absurdity, as well as an alarming amount of jokes packed into one movie. While re-watching Airplane!, that’s always what stands out to me the most, the sheer amount of jokes per minute that are packed in. Side note: there was even a study conducted by a movie subscription service back in 2012 that found that Airplane! had the most laughs per minute of the top 10 comedies they selected, clocking in at 3 lpm (laughs per minute). The fast-paced jokes in Airplane! make it endlessly re-watchable, because there’s always a new joke to unpack or something you may have missed.

While there have been some notable, modern absurdist comedy films in recent years, the style has really found its home right now on TV. Maybe it’s harder to apply the absurdist formula to longer forms of entertainment successfully, but when applying it in 30-minute increments, it may be more accessible and easier to sustain over a longer period of time. The rapid-fire style of Airplane! has lent itself to similar modern mainstream TV comedies such as Arrested Development and 30 Rock. While less mainstream and accessible, the TV show version of Comedy Bang! Bang! also successfully blurs the realism line with its post-modern/absurd talk show format.

Personally, absurdist comedy is one of my favorite forms. There are no limits to the amount of weird allowable. A lot of comedy (and life?) seems to be bound by rules and constructs that you’re supposed to follow to get the finished product, but with absurdist humor, there are no rules. Sure, you can put that unicorn on a spaceship and make him the president, why not? It creatively opens up any possibilities and allows the audience to enjoy something that, more than likely, they would have never thought of or expected. It leads the audience into a weird universe that can only exist within this piece of entertainment they’re partaking in at that moment, and that’s such a wonderful, inspiring thing. As my life mantra/favorite quote from the ultra-absurd 1990’s kid’s show Eerie, Indiana goes, “Better weird, than dead.”

Jessica Dorrell is a graduate of the DCH improv program, and is currently enrolled in the sketch writing program. Her one wish is that some day she can have a Mogwai as a pet. You can see her perform every Thursday at 9:30 p.m. in the current Ewing show.

Why Are We Not More Concerned About This Airplane?

by Sarah Mowery It's been over 5 weeks  since an enormous airplane with 239 people on board disappeared from the sky with absolutely no explanation and --HOLY EFF, WHAT???!?! Why is no one talking about this??

I’m going to jump straight to the point here: I am scared. Mostly for myself and for Justin Bieber because Lord knows we would not be equipped to handle a disaster, but also for everyone else.

It seems like this whole situation is being glossed over. Like everyone sort of wants to get the update on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, but, in the end, it’s just another 660,000-pound aircraft vanishing into the Indian Ocean. Like, sad, but nothing we can do about it, so let’s just call it Season 7 of Lost and move on. Like, you would never say it out loud, but it doesn’t really affect you, so, yes, you hope they find that black box, but you’d also rather just pretend that plane never existed.

But a closer look may reveal that it DOES affect us. Because planes don’t just fall out of the sky. If they did, people would still be travelling across oceans on giant, or should I say “Titanic,” cruise ships, and we all know what happens when those things get involved *cough ICEBERGS cough*. Since you can in fact fly directly through sky icebergs, I have yet to come up with any feasible explanation as to how this 242-foot flying object managed to get lost without a trace in a world where my little sister was able to use Google Street View to bust me for having a boy over to my house. It doesn’t.

You see, my concern is that people are so accustomed to hearing bad news that they just write it off when something big like this happens. “Hey did you hear about that school shooting?” “Yes, it’s awful! I can’t believe it. What did you bring for lunch?” “Tuna salad. Oh my god I just got a USA Today news update about the total number of child soldiers that have been killed in Africa since 2000, how sad is that?” “So sad. When will people learn to be compassionate? Wait does your news update say anything about Kim and Kanye’s wedding being postponed?”

I’m not saying that people don’t care about what’s going on in the world. I do believe we care, but we can’t let ourselves care too much, or else we would implode from the sheer amount of things there are to worry about.

But this plane’s disappearance is different than genocide or sexism or animal cruelty because we can’t identify the problem. Show me a nation of women being paid less than their male counterparts and I can tell you exactly what the problem is and lay out some possible solutions. Show me a beat-up puppy, and it won’t be long before we’ve got the ASPCA on the way. We don’t have to be up in arms all the time about problems we can identify, because we know that someone out there, if not us, is working on a solution.

Malaysia Airlines 370? Yeah, I can’t really identify what’s going on there, but here’s what I’ve come up with so far: Outcome = 239 people almost certainly dead at the bottom of the ocean. Problem that caused outcome = Engine failure? Pilot asleep?  Isolated thunder storms? Bermuda triangle type deal? Kraken? All of the above? I do not know! And since the problem can’t be identified, meaning that no one can be getting very far coming up with a solution, we all have an extremely valid reason to be freaking the eff out, starting 5 weeks ago and ending whenever anyone can explain to us what REALLY happened to that plane.

I am afraid that the lack of riots on the streets and total pandemonium surrounding this issue must mean that Big Brother’s plot to control our minds and make us void of all human reason and emotion is nearing completion. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t one of the signs of the Apocalypse planes falling out of the sky and everyone just kind of going on with their day? Yeah, that’s definitely in there, right next to the one about Courtney Love leading the charge on solving the world’s greatest mysteries.

So start doomsday prepping, and go see an improv show. Lord knows we’ll all need the laughs when the world as we know it comes to an end.

Sarah Mowery is a Level 2 Improv student at DCH and a blogging intern for DCH media. You can also read more of her comedy stylings HERE.