The Internet and news sources are abuzz today with the tragic story, and I, too, with a heavy heart mourn the passing of another beloved comedy icon. Only hours ago it was announced that SkyMall will cease touring. SkyMall first appeared in 1990, plying its trade aboard puddle jumpers, regional airlines, and commuter flights, testing and revising its material to the amusement of audiences from coast to coast.
In 1992 it hit the big time when, as luck would have it, Johnny Carson, enroute to the Emmy Awards in which he won a statuette for Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series, glanced through a few pages of this upstart entertainer, bought a bottle of newly launched Thierry Mugler “Angel” perfume, and stuffed SkyMall in his briefcase. After this fortuitous meeting, Skymall appeared with Johnny frequently and was invited to the much desired chair, even if it was in the…well…you know.
As Ellen DeGeneres, David Letterman, Jerry Seinfeld, and many other comedians discovered, Johnny’s stamp of approval meant overnight success; and so it was for SkyMall. In 1992 SkyMall increased its profits 100% and became a regular performer in nearly every jumbo jet flying the friendly skies. And if the skies were unfriendly, SkyMall no doubt had a solution – or could help you think of one yourself.
Readers of my blog may remember my tribute to SkyMall in my post “Getting There is All the Fun?” Over its 25-year career, SkyMall has allowed me to laugh away elbows bruised by jostled drink trolleys, fears of sudden turbulence, irritation at guys who reclined their seats into my lap, and countless hours of boredom when I discovered someone had already done the crossword puzzle in the airline magazine. But now its wit and weird wisdom is going the way of the free bag of peanuts, the free carry ons, the free meals, the free headsets, the free blankets…well, it’s going away. Without SkyMall the friendly skies will be…
And air travel will be the poorer for its absence.