Up crazy early to do one of the crazier jobs of my already crazy career. I was off to Armenia with David Baddiel for a show that basically involves spending someone else's money. Though to be honest, that is what all TV shows are. Some people blow some money for your entertainment, often by travelling somewhere. At least this show is up front about it. And I hope we can spread some of this cash to people who deserve it more than TV channels and comedians. We'll see. I will talk of this more anon.
But today was all about the travel and I was at Heathrow by 5am. So early, in fact, that the flight I was going on hadn't yet been added to the screen, which gave me a brief moment of fear that I was at the wrong terminal or airport or that the Dave show was actually about telling comedians they were going to be flying around the world and then secretly filming their disappointed faces when they learned they weren't going anywhere!
The furthest I've travelled east in what might broadly be referred to as Europe is the Czech Republic, so I was excited to be going to a country which was between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. It seemed impossibly exotic and I could only think of O Level History maps and the fact I was going to go further east than the soldiers who fought in the Crimean War. I knew next to nothing about where we were going.
As I passed through an almost deserted security (if you want to travel smoothly, travel at 5am) the man giving us instructions called me madam, before seeing my stubbled face and apologising. It made the other guard manning the scanners laugh out loud. I wasn't too impressed with their observational skills. If they can't tell that I am a man then they are unlikely to spot any cleverly concealed bombs. My genitals are bigger than any bomb mankind has invented and so if they couldn't see them bulding out of my trousers and no one could mistake it for Little Boy (this is a clever WWII joke, if you think it's funny to laugh about atomic bombs) then that didn't bode well for our security.
But the first flight to Paris was relatively painless and we faced a four hour wait for our next plane to Yerevan. David and I were "papped" by a fellow traveller who was dobbed in by his sister-in-law, so we papped him back and I tweeted the photo of Steve from near Middlesbrough. I thought he'd probably see the tweet and say something, but it turned out he'd just sent the pic to his family and wasn't on Twitter. I had expected him to give us a knowing look and then I would have said, "Sorry Steve, but you started it!" But he just left.
The next flight was also weirdly eventful and the plane only slightly scarily old-fashioned. It had a drop down screen above every other seat to watch the film on. And the film was on video. We were maybe flying back into the past. As I watched the disappointing buy adequate film, "The Internship" in which Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are slightly more creepy and slightly less charming than they imagine (I think Wilson is beginning to look a bit like Jimmy Savile which means it's maybe time for him to stop playing the romantic lead, or at least one who is hanging around with people half his age), I was slightly surprised when a man queuing for the toilet suddenly fell towards the ground, hitting me in the legs and then crashing down into the aisle looking to all intents and purposes dead to the world. In fact I was pretty certain he'd just had a heart attack and died. And shamefully my first thought wasn't "Oh no, that's tragic," it was "Oh no, this plane is now going to have to land so he can get medical attention." Then I thought "Oh no, this is tragic". Then I wondered if he had actually died whether we'd have to land - I mean, what could they do for him. But if we flew on to our destination would they just strap his cadaver back into his seat. Or was there some kind of corpse cupboard.
Whilst I got out of the way and the flight crew did a fantastic job of assessins his state of health, his eye-lids fluttered and I realised he was alive (so maybe we'd have to land). But luckily for us all it became apparent that he had just fainted into a proper dead faint and they lifted his legs to get his blood circulating and five minutes later he was up on his feet laughing about the whole thing. He was lucky he hit his head on my soft legs and not on my metal arm rest. And let's face it so was I.
A bit later in the flight I was reading something on David's computer whilst a flight attendant looked in the locker above my seat, when a video cassette in its case came crashing down onto the keyboard and smashed open. I didn't know what had happened for a second, thought the computer had exploded and said, "Fucking Hell" but everything was OK. Except that we realised that this airline was still using videos for its in flight entertainment, which seemed beyond archaic. How did they get a modern film on a video anyway?
Soon enough we'd arrived at a very empty airport, where the signs were in a language that looked completely fake, as if invented by a lazy set dresser on a movie about an alien civilisation (starring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn). All the letters looked the same to my English-centric eye, but in fact there are 10 more characters in the Armenian alaphabet than in our shithouse language. They just only use the one that looks like a u.
As we came out of arrivals a man looked at me and said something quite urgently in Armenian. He wasn't a driver or someone looking to get me to stay in a hotel, just a regular man. I don't know what he said, but I tried to persuade David that Fist of Fun is very big in Armenia and I was probably going to get this a lot. I don't think he bought it. Be nice to be to Armenia what Norman Wisdom (on acid) is to Albania (the Armenians wouldn't get that reference - they love Fist of Fun, but fucking hate TMWRNJ.
We had set off in darkness and arrived in darkness. Back at the hotel the crew had a meal together and enjoyed some delicious Armenian delights and I broke my alcoholic abstinence for a local beer. It's seems like a fun team and I am looking forward to the work we have ahead of us. And spending money is work. Even if it might not look like it from where you're sitting.
We saw a recent car crash on our journey and one of the crew informed me that they have a phobia about things that appear larger than they are supposed to me. Especially people in large novelty costumes, like cartoon characters, but anything that comes along with unexpectedly exaggerated proportions. It makes them faint.
I wondered if the guy on the plane had the same thing and had just caught sight of my enormous bomb-sized lunch-box. It'd be nice to think at least one person had today.
I feel it's going to be an eventful trip.
The No Pressure To Be Funny Podcast is up much more quickly than I thought it would be. You can download if from the British Comedy Guide (or iTunes).