Virgin Airways to Feature Live Stand-Up Acts

by Brian McKim & Traci Skene on August 9th, 2013

Virgin will be offering standup comedy on some of their domestic (UK) flights.

This is not the first time someone has thought that offering standup in a passenger jet cabin was a good idea. We recall that an American carrier offered standup way back. It was maybe 20 years ago or so, when standup comedy was hot and, perhaps, to a significant enough chunk of the population, novel. Do any of our readers recall that?

We think put it nicely when they prefaced the link to the Virgin story with the words, “LAUGH PRISON.”

The reaction to it– on all the ultra-hip (in their minds) websites– is uniformly, across-the-board, categorically negative. Like this comment from

As if flying wasn’t miserable enough. Now people have to suffer through some amateur comic’s attempt at a big break? Just give us cryogenic sleep pods and you will have created the perfect method of air travel.

Of course, the comics aren’t amateur– allegedly, they’ll be comics who are “workshopping” their upcoming shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, of which Virgin is a major sponsor. But (for mysterious reasons), folks don’t need any prompting to reveal a distaste for standup comedy. Schemes like Virgin’s just put that hostility on display and, for some at least, reinforce those negative feelings.

Virgin will offer live music as well… but we’re not seeing a fraction of a fraction of any of this negativity being directed toward musicians.

People love it when the flight attendants are funny. The Southwest attendants seem particularly adept at delivering flippant and outrageous announcements. One reason the flight crew gets such a good response is because no one expects them to be funny. It’s the surprise that catches the passengers off guard. (Conversely, a comedian, by his/her very nature expects laughs… so the bar is raised high… sometimes too high… sometime so high as to engender hostility. This is the life we have chosen.)

But on a plane? It’s bad enough when the patrons of a pub or a restaurant have standup forced on them… but on a plane? At 35,000 feet?

Comics read the Virgin story with mixed emotions and a knot in the stomach. We all know that it’s potentially one of the worst gigs that anyone could ever dream up. But then we wonder… how much does it pay?

To paraphrase FOS Jason Pollock, “…a bringer show would be out of the question and really expensive for your friends.”