Kurt Braunohler is a comedian, and he is not immune to a good, dumb joke. In his latest project, funded by donors through Kickstarter, he's hiring a pilot to write "How do I land?" in the sky above Los Angeles at 3:33 p.m. PT on Saturday. Host Scott Simon speaks with Braunohler about the project, and his comedic goal to bring more absurdity to people's lives.
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
If you happen to find yourself in Los Angeles later today, you might want to take a moment to look up for a laugh. Because at 3:33 p.m. Pacific time, you'll be able to see a message from Kurt Braunohler written in the sky. What'll it say, Kurt?
KURT BRAUNOHLER: It'll actually say how do I land?
SIMON: And that's for giving away the punch line. That's Kurt Braunohler, the comedian, and he wants to bring comedy to new levels later today by writing jokes in the sky. He joins us from NPR West. Thanks so much for being with us.
BRAUNOHLER: Thank you for having me.
SIMON: So, the whole joke or just the punch line?
BRAUNOHLER: It's just how do I land, which I think the setup is implied by the plane.
SIMON: Has this joke been cleared by the FAA?
BRAUNOHLER: I haven't been in contact with them. I'm assuming the pilot will. I mean, I'm not personally doing the skywriting. I've just hired the skywriter.
SIMON: This has got to be an awfully expensive way to tell a joke. I mean, in days you can just put it out there on Twitter.
BRAUNOHLER: It is very expensive. And I came up with the idea and then I actually started a Kickstarter for it. And I asked people to vote on which joke they wanted written in the sky, and I came up with a whole bunch of them. But, of course, the first thing that came to my mind when I thought of the idea, which is how do I land, was the one that everybody picked.
SIMON: There's something beautiful in the philosophy that this is a joke that ephemeral. I don't know how long skywriting lasts, but is it half an hour, maybe?
BRAUNOHLER: In L.A. - and the reason I chose to do it in L.A. is because the winds are calmer here. So, in L.A., apparently, it'll last around 20 minutes or so. But I'm a huge fan of ephemeral jokes because I think it makes more special and important if it actually just exists in this specific place in the world with this specific thing happening. And kind of makes it momentous.
SIMON: Wouldn't it be wonderfully satisfying for you if at, like, around 4 p.m. Pacific time today you hear an enormous laugh from the city of Los Angeles?
BRAUNOHLER: I would love that. What I would love even more if another skywriter started to skywrite directions on landing.
SIMON: That would be a tribute. So, have you considered any other media for jokes?
BRAUNOHLER: Yeah, no. I mean, I've been doing a bunch of different things. My whole kind of purpose as a comedian, as I see it, is to insert stupid or absurd moments into strangers' lives because I think it makes the world a slightly better place for just a second.
SIMON: Arguably, that's what we do here too. But all right, yeah.
BRAUNOHLER: And for a while now I've been going into pharmacies and buying a bunch of greeting cards and then taking them home and signing them with alternate endings and then bringing them back and putting them back on the shelf. I don't know who sees them and I don't know what it does but I hope that for just a second the unexpectedness can kind of take someone out of their everyday routine and give them a little treat.
SIMON: Well, good luck, Kurt. Nice talking to you.
BRAUNOHLER: Nice talking to you too. Thanks a lot.
SIMON: Kurt Braunohler is a comedian - well, we'll be the judge of that. And to see some of his jokes at 3:33 p.m. today in Los Angeles, keep watching the skies.
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