The National Business Travelers Association convention might not seem a likely venue for TV stars. But the 6,450 attendees at the annual confab last week in Los Angeles were treated to luncheon keynotes from two of network television's funniest: Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson and 30 Rock Emmy Award-winner Alec Baldwin.
Ferguson kicked things off Monday, beginning his routine by reading an actual list of "Do and Don't" topics given to him by organizers (e.g., politics, the economy) before noting, "They didn't say I couldn't be dirty."
The Scottish comic touched only tangentially on travel when he recounted his history of alcoholism and referred to his native United Kingdom as "Drunkadia." He killed the crowd with riffs on why he loved rehab, how he touches midgets for good luck and the horrors of childbirth classes.
Baldwin, however, did not go over as well. Although his comic turns on Saturday Night Live are legendary, his appearance on Tuesday left conventioneers puzzled. Despite the TelePrompTers nearby, Baldwin proceeded to read his remarks from a stack of papers, covering such topics as getting fat, aging and what a fat, aging actor can ultimately do when his career goes south.
Baldwin's answer: star in 60 Minutes. He then proceeded to "audition" for Andy Rooney's job with a commentary about the difficulty of putting on socks. Next, he invited a member of the audience -- a comely 29-year-old named Barbara -- onstage for a Mike Wallace-style interview.
After some banter about the travel business, Baldwin cut to the chase. "So, Barbara," he asked, "are you a member of the 'Mile-High Club?'"
Turning a shade of red that proved she was not in on the act, Barbara whispered, "Yes," prompting the room to give her a standing ovation.
As for Baldwin, NBTA members were left hoping he keeps his night job.