Virgin Atlantic hires stand-up comics for flights

They'll take to the aisles during some UK routes, turning a quick trip into amateur hour.

By Jason Notte Aug 12, 2013 7:21AM
A Boeing 787 Dreamliner flies during a preparation routine for the Paris Air show at Le Bourget on June 14, 2013 (© ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images)If you're a stand-up comic hired to perform on an airliner, does security have to screen your jokes to make sure they don't bomb?

That's exactly the kind of thing Virgin Atlantic employees should expect to hear a lot more of now that its U.K. offshoot Little Red has determined it's going to be hosting in-flight comedy performances on all trips to Edinburgh this month.


If the folks on stage don't go for the easy "I just flew in from Aberdeen, and boy are my arms tired" or "What's the deal with airline food" quips, expect every punter at the ticket counter who thinks it's amateur hour at the Laughateria to try out the shtick on helpless airline staff.


The acts are going to be announced on Virgin Atlantic's Facebook (FB) and Twitter pages, but passengers won't get any notice -- or warning -- about which flights they'll be on. The promotion is a tie-in to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival that runs through Aug. 26, and many of the performers are professional comedians heading to gigs there.


On flights that usually have a two-drink maximum, a full stand-up set in a small flying tube from which there's no escape could be a personal nightmare for performers and passengers alike. Many ar just getting accustomed such things as private viewing screens with multiple channels, myriad supplemental mobile devices they've waited till after takeoff to turn back on and earbuds and noise-canceling headphones that complete the hermetically sealed experience. So, they aren't going to be dragged into this Improv In The Air willingly. That the comics are hitting the aisle for "impromptu" joke telling only compounds the sensory ambush.


Even if it works out well and everybody has a laugh, Virgin's Little Red is giving the comics a short leash. The funny folk get the hook at the end of August, when the airline brings in aspiring musicians for acoustic sets. At a time when airlines charge ever-increasing fees and take away perks like pillows, blankets, meals and legroom, perhaps passengers should be grateful for the freebie.


Still, those September singalongs seem to have all the charm of a middling sidewalk or subway busker's set with none of the comforts of a clear way out.


More on moneyNOW

22Comments
Aug 12, 2013 4:59PM
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Why hire comedians, the airline industry has turned into a terrible joke.
Aug 12, 2013 1:42PM
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we need a a laugh after a two- ounce soft drink and a seven- euro bag of chip (yes, singular...as in one freakin' chip).

Aug 12, 2013 5:18PM
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After all the fees thay charge us and the rip-off of fuel surcharges, Mr. Branson the Jokes on your valued clients. Why hire Comics when you have jackasses working in your managment. They just cost the Airline over 10 million $ last month.

You also now have a side Kick called Delta.

Aug 12, 2013 5:38PM
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This might not be as goofy as it sounds.  We were on a flight to Atlanta, and the (male) flight attendant spontaneously went on a comedy routine that surprised and delighted the passengers.  There was quite a bit of applause, and it really made the flight seem shorter.  I'm for it....as long as it doesn't raise fares.
Aug 12, 2013 5:06PM
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''Hey, how Ya doin everybody?'' ''Anybody from out of town?''
Aug 12, 2013 5:43PM
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Talk about having a captive audience.
Aug 12, 2013 5:08PM
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FOREWARNED IS FOREARMED - I WILL NEVER TAKE VIRGIN ATLANTIC.  NOTHING WORSE THAN A SECOND RATE COMIC YOU CANNOT ESCAPE FROM, OTHER THAN JUMPING OUT OF THE PLANE!
Aug 12, 2013 6:47PM
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Brilliant business move.  The plan is to fill the cabin with bad jokes and  then charge a fee for noise-reducing headsets.  The jokes on you!

Aug 12, 2013 5:51PM
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Thanks for the tip - one more airline to avoid. The last thing I want, after going through airport security, standing in endless lines, and squeezing into my set between two fat people spilling over the arm rests, is another lame comedian trying to make me think I'm having a good time. Southwest's fake-cheery flight attendants are enough, thank you. Just leave me in peace to read or sleep. If I want a comic, I'll go to Vegas.
Aug 12, 2013 5:13PM
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Oh No !!  After all the abuse we travelers have received from the airlines, now we must endure comics so bad they can't get club gigs ??  Trapped in my seat with no way out, I will be verbally abused and harassed !?!?! The only way I can possibly cope with a long flight is to chill and relax, but now I won't be able to do that !!!  Forget you ... I will be absolutely sure NOT to take one of these flights. 

Aug 12, 2013 5:51PM
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I can guarantee I will never fly on this airlind. Stand up stupidity is not amusing to me.
Aug 12, 2013 6:39PM
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and up goes your airline fare....no joke


Aug 12, 2013 6:03PM
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What will the fee be?  20 quid per joke? 
Aug 12, 2013 5:47PM
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I supposed they'll be adding a "live performance" fee onto the cost of my ticket at the last minute as well.
Aug 12, 2013 5:25PM
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This will sure be a first.

 Employed by a Virgin for laughs, while earning Frequent Liar points.

Aug 12, 2013 1:13PM
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NEVER SAY HI JACK TO YOURE FRIEND JACK ON A PLANE FLIGHT

Aug 12, 2013 12:33PM
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I thought the fat, old, and ugly attendants we have now were a joke!
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