Monday, April 11, 2011

I was a victim of Komedy Karma

It's a comedy staple and I've resorted to it many times. People trapped in an elevator. I've written scenes using that premise, directed scenes using that premise, and in improv class I've performed that scene almost as many times as "two people meet on a blind date".

Hey, it works. You can get two people together who otherwise wouldn't be and place them in a highly stressful situation that they can't escape and could lead to a complete emotional and physical breakdown. What could be more fun than that?

You got panic jokes, claustrophobia jokes, indigestion jokes (always a crowd pleaser!), trying to be stoic, pleading with God, and don't forget those million-dollar sight gags. Attempting to open elevator doors or climb through the ceiling. Throw in a pregnant woman going into labor and no air conditioning and you've got comedy GOLD my friend!!!

Bonus yucks: what embarrassing compromising situation do you find the trapped people in when they're finally rescued? In the middle of sex? Fetal position in the corner? Fist fight over the last Tic Tac? The options are limitless!

It's all a recipe for sheer hilarity...


It happens to you.

Last Thursday night my wife and I were trapped in an elevator for a half hour. This was in a parking structure at the Santa Monica Promenade at about 9:00 pm. Us and this lovely family from Croatia.

I knew we were in trouble when we entered on the ground level and started going down. Then the car jerked to a stop and froze.

At first there's that moment when you don't believe it. Are we really stuck in an elevator? Doesn't that sort of thing only happen in cheesy Ken Levine sitcoms? Then everyone tries to be cool, especially since one of the passengers was a kid. (I wonder -- is there a Kubler-Ross equivalent to elevators??)

We rang the alarm bell and that accomplished nothing. Does it ever or is it there to just make you feel better? Look! I'm pressing a button! I'm DOING something!

There was also an emergency phone button. We hit that and after a few rings someone answered. I don't know who. Maybe they have a deal with On-Star or this is the same guy who takes your order when you call and buy Time-Life's 12,000 Golden Oldies collection for only $995 (and if you order before midnight they'll add 4,362 more oldies absolutely free!!). He took down the information and said he'd call us right back. When five minutes went by and he didn't, I called again. He was very reassuring. "So this is in the Embassy Suites, right? "NO! THE PARKING STRUCTURE!". (Step 3: Anger at idiots.) He promised to call us back.

Mr. Croatia was getting antsy.  He managed to open the interior doors, but they got stuck and then wouldn't close. I'm thinking -- that can't be good. He tried to open the steel outer doors and managed to part them two inches -- enough that we could see the small crowd of curiosity seekers that had gathered. I wanted to yell out, "This is not Chile!".

The parking attendant arrived and said the fire department was on the way. Ten minutes later they arrived, some lever was pulled and the doors opened. Now you'd expect cheering from the crowd, right? None. I actually think they were disappointed. We stepped out and that was that. A big thank you to the fire department and the attendant who also didn't charge us for parking. What a great way to save $2.00!  I'm still waiting to hear from On-Star-guy. I hope those people trapped in the Embassy Suites aren't still there.

The added irony is that our car was only one flight up.  But who can resist an elevator that's just closing?

So I guess it's Komedy Karma. Payback for all the elevator scenes I've milked laughs out of. But did I learn my lesson? Hey, I wrote this post,didn't I?

The real Komedy Karma however, came this weekend at the boxoffice.  Despite a huge publicity campaign that included TV ads in AMERICAN IDOL, the new ARTHUR was an absolute bomb.  I'd much rather be trapped in an elevator than get caught between that moon and New York City. 

BONUS POST later today. Am writing it now.

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