On airports, where comedy never lands

Saddled on a swivel chair at the foodcourt in the Charlotte airport on a layover,* I wrote the title of this post as a note in my phone. Needless to say, I was stupidly proud of what I’ll claim as a joke. Also needless to say, I had/have no idea how to build on it. Airports are one of those subjects in stand-up comedy that have become well-known dead zones. Sure, they’re places we’ve all been to, and so the inherent relatability** makes them typical fodder for the aspiring comic, but the subject is now so exhausted that you may as well write a poem about love and/or a rose.

For example:

Poems are word-portals

transmuting arbitrary letter marriages

into rainbow roads of wonder and awe

that carry some “you” into unearthly union

with some “other.”

I – the poet, the unseen “one” composing this – need

only present “rose” before your ravenous mind

and you’ve all but consumed “it” before “it” can live.

And there you are, dear lover,

baffled by what “you” have done,

as if “it” makes a difference.

Were I to present this hastily conceived set of lines to students as a well-respected poem, they’d likely analyze it with due vigor and sincerity, only marginally wondering, “Really? This?” Unless, that is, they’ve been to an airport too and they realize they might as well make work whatever life offers them in the moment; before long, their plane will depart for some great elsewhere, or at least that’s the promise of the airport that allows us to endure its Stygian service.

I don’t know where to land this thing.

*That is an obnoxious series of prepositional qualifiers…the old on-at-in-on combo. Yikes.

**(1) WordPress doesn’t recognize “relatability” as a word, or at least it doesn’t know how to spell it correctly. Is this problem relatable? (2) This is a wonderfully elitist assumption to make, that airports are a relatable thing. I’ve traveled so much via plane at this point that I forget how decidedly uncommon it is. When we talk about stand-ups and their imagined audiences, we’re making all sorts of assumptions. The stand-up experience, of course, betrays most of them, hence the hero’s journey reality of “the road.” If I were a politician looking to get a pulse on the nation, I’d turn to stand-ups as consultants.

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