Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Ticket Touts... with free tickets

I don't think I've ever come closer to missing a flight. I had a car booked for 6.30am. I had an alarm call scheduled for 6am. My bags were packed. Surely nothing could go wrong.

Cut to 7am when the phone goes and the hotel receptionist tells me that there's a driver waiting for me. Why I didn't get an alarm at 6 (okay, it's possible that I did and didn't hear it... but only in an alternative universe where I'm an unusually heavy sleeper prone to half hour periods of hearing loss) and why nobody called me at 6.30 when the car arrived I don't know. What I do know is that my flight was meant to be boarding at 7.45 and being in a Manhattan hotel room 45 minutes before you're meant to be strolling on to a plane at JFK isn't a very good idea.

I leapt out of bed, dressed hurriedly, brushed my teeth (why?) and then ran. I offered the driver another $50 if I got there in time. He earned his tip.

On the way into the airport there are signs telling you which terminal you need. I was flying on American Airlines. I'd told the driver this information and that it was an international flight. The signs tell you that AA fly out of Terminals 8 and 9. 8 is for international flights (except flights to London). 9 is for domestic flights (and flights to London). I spotted this tricksy detail on the way in and the driver duly delivered me to Terminal 9. Where I was told that my flight was leaving from Terminal 8.

"But the sign says 'domestic flights and flights to London'", I said, more interested in getting on to a flight than into a fight.
"Oh yeah," said the genuinely helpful member of staff. "But the morning flight goes from 8. Sorry about that. You need to go downstairs, take a right and run."

They took my bag amongst a lot of confusing, "Will his case make it? Ask them? They're not answering? Just send it" talk and I turned and ran. Through security - shoes off, laptop out, laptop in, shoes on - run and then to the gate. At precisely 7.45. We didn't board until 8. Even so, a close call.

I was mighty relieved at Heathrow to see my case trundling out on the conveyor belt too.

Given the work schedule required to make The Daily Show it's amazing that the journey home provided the most frantic part of my week. It was an amazing and hugely enjoyable week. I hope I'll be going back. I recorded three segments in total - two based on the idea of statistical analysis which is the real reason I'm contributing to the show and one that only really happened because I was there with my English accent on the Queen's birthday. Two were broadcast at the time and one is in the bank for use in a future show. You can see video clips of the two broadcast segments on the Comedy Central website here.

Now... housekeeping: tickets for the Genius recordings are now available. We're recording shows on the 19th, 24th and 30th of May and the 5th, 8th and 12th of June. You can get free tickets for the shows here. Of course, had you been on my mailing list you'd already have known that.

Now, a return to a theme of recent postings on this increasingly bloggy news page of mine; ebay naughtiness. It's been brought to my attention that someone has been selling tickets to see Genius on ebay. They're free tickets but someone has managed to sell a pair for £8.49. Looking through the seller's ID and it becomes clear that they've made a fair few quid recently selling free tickets to TV and radio recordings. I expect it's entirely legal - but that doesn't change the fact that the world would be a happier, friendlier place without it happening. I'd certainly be happier if the people who were bidding for these items just worked out how to get the free tickets in the first place.

Talking of ebay... there are a series of large and unique prints of comedians for sale on ebay at the moment raising money for Amnesty International. The photos were all taken by Rich Hardcastle who has a deserved reputation for being the best portrait photographer in comedyland. They're big, printed on lovely arty paper and signed by the comedians in question. Oh... and they're unique. Anyway... my portrait is amongs them... it's the picture that I've barbarised for the top of this page. Only big. And unique. On great paper. And signed. It's for Amnesty. It's here.

Talking of charitable deeds. The bike ride is getting closer. Total raised so far: a staggering £6140.10. Go on... make it even more staggering.

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