Happy Saturday. Here’s a recent true story about a fun travel experience. You can listen to it via the player below or just read it. The choice is yours. If you want to hear more stories (some of which aren’t on this blog) subscribe to the podcast in iTunes, or by using this feed in your favorite podcatcher. Enjoy!
Jackass on a plane
By Grant Baciocco
It had been a long weekend. I had travelled to Atlantic City to film the second season of The Ultimate Nerd-ament. Traveling with me were fellow puppeteer Russ and our director Dave. There had been a lot of headaches leading up to the trip, just in the planning of the trip and making sure we would have everything we needed for the production once we went got to Atlantic City. It had been a bumpy road.
The filming had gone well. We got the footage we needed, and we even got to do a cool guest puppet appearance with director Kevin Smith. As good as it went, however, the travel plan mess ups were kind of outweighing the good of the trip, no matter how hard we tried to remain positive. So, at the end of three long days, we were sitting in the Philadelphia Airport waiting for our flight home to Los Angeles.
The first warning that things were not going to go well, came when we were told that the inbound plane was going to be late. About an hour late. We weren’t too worried because out path was taking us from Philadelphia to Washington D.C. then on to LA. We were scheduled to have a one hour and thirty minute layover in D.C., so we’d just be having the layover in Philadelphia instead. But then they announced even further delays that would make our connection in D.C. pretty tight. Finally, the inbound plane arrived and everyone worked together to board quickly and be ready to go.
The plane we were flying to D.C. on was a small plane. Each row only had three seats and you had to gate check any bags bigger than a backpack. Everyone complied with this rule. Except for The Jackass. The Jackass was this guy, probably in his early fifties, loud, brash, everything going wrong in his life was everybody else’s fault. When we were boarding, he couldn’t call his boarding pass up on his phone. This was, somehow, United’s fault. When he finally got on the plane, he was determined to bring his carry on suitcase on, even after being told repeatedly that it would not fit in the overhead bins.
“Sir, that bag is not going to fit in the overhead. You’ll have to gate check it.” The flight attendant said politely.
“I have a 5 minute turnaround in D.C.!” The Jackass said loudly. “You have to let me bring it on.”
“Sir, it’s not going to fit.” She replied.
“At least let me try!” he shouted and pushed past her.
“Fine.” The flight attended said, resigned. “You can try. It’s not going to fit.”
Well, The Jackass marched to his seat and those who had already boarded watched as he tried to cram his roller bag into the overhead bin that was, plainly, far too small for the bag. He pushed and shoved and, to his credit, got most of it in. Enough of it, that he tried to close the bin. The moment he started to try and close it, the bin started going off the tracks because the bag was not letting it close right. I leaned over to Russ, who was sitting across the aisle from me and said, “He’s going to break the door.”
Russ, whose wife worked for Jet Blue, loudly said, “If he breaks it, this flight is going nowhere because it’ll be a service issue.”
The Jackass heard him, but was determined to get the bin closed.
The Flight attendant, seeing the bin warping, came down the aisle, “Sir, if you break the bin we’ll be stuck here because we’ll have to call maintenance.”
The Jackass, determined, continued to pull, as hard as he could, on the door. There was a pop and the door came off the track and wedged tight. At this moment, The Jackas says, angrily, “Fine, I’ll gate check my bag!”
He sat in his seat as the flight attendant took his bag off the plane to gate check it. Then she calmly walked down the aisle to the bin and tried to close it. Of course, it wouldn’t budge. She walked to the cockpit and, a moment later, the captain came down to try and close it. The Gate Agent boarded the plane and tried to help as well. Finally, The Jackass got up and tried to assist. The captain walked back to the cockpit and the PA system clicked on.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have a small maintenance issue and will be unable to take off until it is fixed. We will be delayed here in Philadelphia a little longer until it is fixed.”
Russ was furious, “You broke the door, now we’re all going to miss our flights!”
The entire plane hated The Jackass. So, what did he do? He just got up and left the plane. No apology to the rest of us, he just got up and walked out. About 15 minutes later we saw the Gate Agent retrieving The Jackass’ bag from the plane’s cargo hold and return it to the terminal. The coward was running away, leaving us to deal with the delay.
We got to Washington D.C. to watch as our flight to Los Angeles pulled away from the gate. We were now in Washington D.C. for the night. No luggage. No change of clothes or toiletries. Just our carryons. United did give us hotel and meal vouchers. But we are left to wonder what The Jackass got.
©2015 Grant Baciocco/Saturday Morning Media
The day started as most big travel days do for me, with a stress dream. Woke up about an hour earlier than I needed too, panicked that my alarm would not have gone off and I would be late for lobby call. I wasn’t. The cast met in the lobby as it was, sadly, time to head towards the airport and bring to a close our amazing Australian adventure. We said goodbye to our stage manager Stephen who had come to see us off and soon we were in a cab headed towards the airport.
Once we were all checked in at the Brisbane airport, most of us went around spending the last of our Australian money. I came away with only $2.30, which is pretty good. I’m keeping one dollar as sort of a reminder that I want to get back Down Under as soon as possible. (I’m actually looking at possibly going back later this year. We will see.)
The flight home was long, twelve and a half hours, but uneventful. I know I fell asleep twice, but it can’t say how long I was out for. Maybe an hour or so, perhaps only minutes. I did watch a bunch of movies on the flight. Saving Mr. Banks (liked it), The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (decent), American Hustle (abysmal), Grudge Match (not good) and Mary Poppins (classic).
Before long, we were landing at Los Angeles International Airport. Home again. Our amazing Down Under puppet adventure was officially over.
The past five weeks have been spathe best times of my life. Incredible to get paid to go on to a foreign country and play make believe with puppets. We got to play at the Sydney Opera House! THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE! How many people get to say that.
Huge thanks to Melbourne International Comedy Festival for making it all possible. Susan of the Comedy Festival and her staff were truly amazing and could not have been better hosts. Not only did they give if first class treatment, they put on a heck of a festival. We loved the other shows we got to see as part of the festival and we wished we could have seen more.
Huge thanks to our crew. Stephen our stage manager, Bek our puppet wrangler and Andy our video tech. They hopped on board a very crazy, tech heavy show, made it their own and rocked it as if they had been there all along. And the crew at each venue was top notch. Especially the crew at the Princess Theatre in Melbourne who built us pieces we needed for the show. A great group of guys.
Huge thanks to the amazing fans who came out to see the shows. Each crowd was so into the show they made it so much fun to step on stage. The suggestions ranged from mild to really dirty and we delighted in trying to pay them all off.
Huge thanks to all the puppet people I got to hang with. Michael, Brett, the Hands & Gloves puppet group and the amazing Ingrid Elkner (who plays a mean ukelele). It was also great reconnecting with Lana Schwarcz who I hadn’t seen since 2011. Always love talking puppets with people passionate about puppetry.
And big thanks to the rest of the core Puppet Up crew. Allan, Colleen, Peggy and Ted, always so much fun to improvise with. So many memorable scenes. Brian who is, of course, and incredible improviser but also a heck of a roommate. Dan, who came up with a great song improv backing track and always has the right song for every scene. And, the big chief, Patrick, for making the run so fun and for trusting me to be part of it.
Lastly, to you, for reading these entries. Thanks for coming along for the ride. It was a heck of a time and I’m excited to see where it all leads in the future.
Slept in a little this morning after not being able to fall asleep last night. Upon waking up I immediately hit the gym and ran on the treadmill. The gym is in a cinder block room in the middle of the parking garage in this hotel and it heats up fast. It is sort of like working out in a sauna, which is actually pretty great.
After showering I went over and visited with Brian a bit. After weeks sharing what was basically a two bedroom apartment, it’s weird now to be in two separate rooms. We had a nice chat and then I struck out to get some food.
It still makes me stop when I see a car drive by and see someone in what I think should be the drivers seat, have both hands on their cell phone. Then I quickly remind myself that that is actually the passenger seat. Brian and I were talking about how weird it is going to be to actually start driving again after months of not driving. It’s been really nice. Another thing that has been really nice is not having regular cell phone service. I enjoy not being at the beck and call of my cell phone. That’s something I may bring back to the States with me.
Anyway, I went out and grab some lunch and then just walked around for a bit. I passed by a hotel called the Empire Hotel. It is really unique on the outside and it has a waterfall running down the outside glass. The inside is even crazier. It looks really weird and I don’t know if I would want to stay there. But it’s definitely unique! Then I came back to the hotel room to relax a little bit and do some writing. Then it was call time so Brian, Dan and I hopped the taxi to the venue.
Patrick is fond of saying, “Improv is a batting average.” Meaning that not all improvs are going to be fantastic. Tonight was an off night for me. I feel like I was just spinning my wheels. My Jamboree son was just a disaster, couldn’t get a rhyme in at all. And it was especially painful because I could tell the audience really wanted to like it but they just couldn’t because the rhymes weren’t there and it just didn’t make sense. Then I. The rest of my improvs I was off. No characters, the voices I was doing changed halfway through scenes. I was just completely unfocused. My batting average dropped a lot tonight. At least I have I’ve Grown Accustomed To Your Face to buoy me a little bit. The crowd liked that one.
The show overall was great, no thanks to me. Solid,fun suggestions from the crowd again, seems like Brisbane prefers odd suggestions over dirty and we like that just fine. The Hot Dogs went sunbathing, we saw a scene about a burrito, learned the perils of being a hair dresser and out audience puppeteer applied for the job of a bridge painter. The Alien Barbershop suggestion was theme parks.
At the theme parks
Soda’s $10 a cup
You ride a bunch of rides
Then you throw up.
Meh. Didn’t help the batting a peerage at all.
After the show, I met a Brisbane puppeteer named Brett Hansen and his friend (sorry didn’t know the relationship there) Elissa. Always fun to talk about puppets and puppetry with someone who shares the passion. He has a show that’ll be going on in Brisbane later in May. Sorry I’ll miss it.
After the show we all met back at the hotel and we actually had a fun evening just chatting and laughing in Colleen and Peggy’s room. Soon it was after midnight and time to head to bed.
One more show. One more day. Can’t believe it is over. Sad to see it all end. Going to enjoy tomorrow as much as I can! Gonna get that batting average back up tomorrow night.
I was up at 10:00 AM this morning. I had grand plans to head to the gym but wound up checking email and writing until about 11:30 AM. I had planned on getting out to Warner Brothers Movie World today, but there was some press that needed to be done. I will never gripe or try to get out of press, even on a day off. I’m grateful for this show and will do anything to promote it.
At noon I met Julianna and the photographer in the lobby and we walked to take some photos with a puppet. Our hotel is right by the Story Bridge in Brisbane and that’s where we decided to take the pictures. I tried to convince them to take the picture next to one of the suicide prevention phones next to the bridge but I was down voted. The pictures were taken and I popped back up to the room to change.
After changing, I went for a long walk along the river and through the botanical gardens. Brisbane is nice, but I’m really missing Melbourne. I loved being able to head out of the hotel and instantly find food or entertainment. Here in Brisbane, there’s not much around. We are near a ton of fancy restaurants along the river but they either don’t open until around 5:00 PM or are super expensive. So I just had a Subway sandwich. I find it funny that the Subways here don’t sell chips. Just sandwiches, drinks and cookies. That’s it. Also they don’t have any mustard outside of honey mustard. Other than that it’s just the same as we have in the states.
After my walk I went back to the hotel to chill out. Only leaving in the afternoon when they came in to service my room. While I the lobby I looked up to see if there were any theaters nearby and found one just over a mile away that was playing Amazing Spider-Man 2. I decided to hoof it across town, I had about a half hour before the show was to have started, and I made it before the previews started. This is a tour diary so I’m not going to review Spider-Man here in detail but I will saw it was pretty bad. And I have a high tolerance for bad films being such a fan of Mystery Science Theatre 3000. To illustrate how bad it was, halfway through the film I realized there were quotes from movies along the wall of the theatre and I took to reading them instead of watching the film. Disney needs to get those rights back however they are able to.
Anyway, after that depressing 140 minutes wasted, I walked back across the city to a place I’d past earlier called SSS BBQ Barn for dinner. Though giving the impression of a barbecue joint that we all know I love, this was more of a steakhouse. The food was decent though I would not classify it as barbecue.
After dinner, I walked along the river for a bit and then back home to answer email and do some writing.
That’s about it for my exciting day off. No pictures today because there really wasn’t much picture worthy.