Flying by air still might be a challenge, but Pam Ann has landed directly in the middle of Wilton Manors to make our return to the (sometimes) friendly skies that much smoother. The air-hostess/comedienne is bringing her own patented brand of in-flight humor to Hunters in Wilton Manors, FL, landing with PAMDEMIC (the show kicked off January 28th and with several more dates in February). I sat down with the provocative dame of the airways to chat about how she has made it through quarantine, her thoughts on cancel culture, and why her passion for the LGBTQ community comes from a very personal place.
Michael Cook: For someone like Pam Ann, not being able to travel and be in front of a crowd must be absolutely gut-wrenching. What has this year been like?
Pam Ann: Well, I feel sorry for my friends (laughs). They’re having to tell me “you really can’t do the show to people in real life” and I just say “I didnt mean to say that!” I am like a dog that hasn’t been for a big long walk and I am saying really inappropriate things to people that I shouldn’t be saying. It’s what happens when artists aren’t given the stage. People are like “don’t ask her out, she’s a bit extra right now” (laughs)
MC:So suffice to say, you are beyond ready to get back out on stage.
PA: I am ready, but I am also a bit excited, apprehensively nervous/ excited. I think it is like getting on a bike, once I get back out there I am fine. It’s about getting it back into my head again, I am doing extra preparation for extra everything!
MC: Going to Hunters in Wilton Manors, FL is essentially Pam Ann country as it were, wouldn’t you say?
PA: You cannot get a better audience or bar, everyone has been so wonderful and so welcoming. I am very grateful that I live here in Miami and it’s a half hour drive for me and that we can actually do these live shows. It’s really a gift because there are so many people who can’t do it right now. They do social distancing really well and I feel very safe there.
MC: After being off-stage for so long, what do you think not just the fans can expect from you, but what can you expect from yourself?
PA: I think that there is something to be said about a tiny bit of familiarity. I think that the “touch the trolley, run to the galley, don’t touch the trolley might work with ‘sanitize the trolley'” and I will try to reinvent some material for the Covid era; there is a sense of familiarity. I have always done a show that opens with a video, there is a movie in the middle, and then it closes with a video. I don’t want to change things right now, so I am going to keep to the structure, it gives me a bit more confidence, especially after eleven months of not performing live.
I am thinking that I am going to open up the show with “I wish that god damn bat was never born…I wish the bat was never born” (laughs) It is me tapping into the different countries and the evolution of the virus, on a plane, and what is the effect today of everyone around the world, but in a funny way. I have not flown during the COVID era, so I usually talk about things that I have experienced. I am grounded, so it is going to be things about travel, my feelings, Miami, Wilton Manors, and just localize it a bit. If it I have not flown during COVID, it’s hard to do comedy about something that I have not experienced.
MC: The beauty of your performances is that you stand on the line of being “safe” and you touch on things that everyone can relate to in a hilarious, but sometimes “un-pc” way. Is it challenging in today’s ultra PC culture now to reinvent in a post COVID world?
PA: You know, I have always lived my life in the most authentic and genuine way possible. No one is going to dictate to me what I am going to say on stage. I stick to my guns and during my career, I have been boycotted, I have lost contracts, I have had people come up to me on ships, I have had abuse in my face; I have had a barrage of people being offended by me. I guess it has also translated into some of the success that I dont have either. Not getting television, not getting certain things, it is because I have always stayed in my lane. My lane is to bring to light some of the things people are scared to say and I say it. If that day changes, I dont want to be part of the comedy world. If they cancel me, I dont know what I will do I will deal with it then. In a way, I feel like I was cancelled in so many different areas of my life anyway, so it’s okay. It’s like it’s in my DNA; when corporations would hire me and they would ask me to “tone it down” I can’t it’s in my DNA; you just can’t change it. In my vocabulary its very hard not to say “those” words, asking me not too is like putting me in ropes and saying “don’t do that”. The more people that say “don’t” I do. To the twenty four year olds, I say “buckle up you got some lessons to learn”.
MC: It has been truly remarkable to watch so many people in our country become much more “woke” where being offended seems to prevalent.
PA: The thing about this ‘woke’ bullshit is that they are actually censoring themselves without realizing it. You wanted freedom of speech, but you are actually doing the opposite of what you are preaching.
MC: Judy Gold’s new book Yes I Can Say That speaks to exactly what you are saying; the comedians are truly one of the professions still holding up rights for all of us, and saying what truly needs to be said.
PA: You know, I love her, I love her with a passion. She is an amazing comedian. Jessica Kirson, I love her too, I love those girls, we have to say it. Also, there is a lot to be said about saying things. You can’t not address the elephant in the room. I’m not gonna scoot around it because you’re uncomfortable with it, if anything I am going to go harder on it. I’ve had people leave, fifteen people left my show on the island of Jersey. I think because I opened with something like I was staying in this house where it was historically known where people in the home had been involved with pedophilia. All of these people got up and I screamed “guilty”! (laughs)
MC: As a performer you and other performers can get away with more on venues like a gay cruise because the patrons might be more open to hearing more humor that is risqué and daring. Has that been your experience?
PA: Well, I have not always had the same experience. I find that on a gay cruise when people are buying tickets to your show they have an expectation of entitlement. I find that it is one of the hardest groups to perform to because they can come and go as they like, they can tell you what they like on the ship, it’s good and bad. You have those queens that will come up and say “let me tell you about your show” or “that bits great, but when you do that Asian character, that’s racist”. I just stand there like “I’m just trying to get a drink, okay you’re my director from now on”.
MC: Have you ever had issues where an audience member took their “outrage” to the extreme?
PA: I had an experience on Atlantis where I told an AIDS joke. I guess there are a lot of people on that that dont know my history with HIV/AIDS and the amount of friends that I speak to. When you are part of a group of people for the last twenty to thirty years, we talk about these things and they educate me with their humor about it. When I am having these normal, genuine, authentic conversations with friends of mine, some of which who have had HIV/AIDS since the 80’s, they telll me all this information they laugh about it and I joke about it. I guess some of that slipped out on stage at Atlantis in the way that I felt free enough to do this joke. It wasn’t a joke that I thought about, it was just something that was improvised in the moment. Honestly, you could cut the air in the room with a knife.
After that cruise, Atlantis pretty much said “you can’t do that and say that” and a lot of people had a real problem with it; there were real issues with it. That is an example of cancel culture as well because I got “cancelled” off of those cruises, because I said an AIDS joke and a lot of people didn’t like it. It wasnt that offensive to be honest with you, it’s like “come on”. Out of the ninety cruises that I have done, that is just the one example though. It is unfortunate; I love doing them, The joke was not meant in that way either, it was well intentioned. It did not come from a dark horrible place. I dont want to play the woman card, but if a gay man had said it there would have of course, a different outcome. I guess a lot of people don’t understand that the LGBT community, I live in that, that’s my life; I am queer. It was an interesting experience that I learned from and I learned to keep doing it. That one defining moment is an example of cancel culture.
MC: We have all been locked down and you more than many, your career and personality is defined by travel and working off of the energy of others. How have you managed to make it through?
PA: The first lockdown we had was about six weeks; creativity really got me through. I went on and did these online shows on StageIt.com and every week I did a new show with a new theme and it really kept me busy the entire time. I did twenty six shows. It was amazing in the beginning, because I was energetic. After six months of the shows, they got harder and harder because you get exhausted and fatigued by it; it gets hard. I exhausted the platform, but being creative was really my savior.
Pam Ann’s brand new show ‘PAMDEMIC’ at Hunters Nightclub Wilton Manors, took off on January 28th and lands again February 4th, 11th and 18th, boarding time at 7pm/Takeoff at 7:30pm. Tickets available here
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