'So Long, Broke People Of Earth!': Comedian Imagines Space Travel With The Bezos Bros
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
There was a bit of news this week that might have seemed, well, more surreal than real. Jeff Bezos announced he and his brother are launching themselves off of Earth. Chicago writer and comedian Vinny Thomas took this to heart. He felt genuinely moved, so moved in fact...
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VINNY THOMAS: So long, broke people of Earth, I shout into the beef-stained streets of Chicago. I'm going on a road trip to outer space. That's right, with Jeff Bezos and his brother, whose name I don't know yet. Probably like Allen or Chase. Yes, the rumors are true. I won Jeff Bezos' space flight sweepstakes. Takeoff is soon, and I need to prepare. What does one bring on a rocket into space with Jeff Bezos? I unzip my tattered Jansport and fill it with Tang and Dippin' Dots to start. I also grab a book called "Packing For Mars," which I saw in my local bookstore and then ordered online because, honestly, it was cheaper.
Hours later, I arrive at the launchpad for Blue Origin suborbital flight vessel, the New Shepard. It looks incredible and not at all phallic. Jeff Bezos and his brother arrive shortly after me in a vehicle that I can only describe as a land yacht. When they emerge, I'm shocked. The brothers Bezos are dressed in shimmering, skintight, silver Patagonia vests. Jeff - he assured me I should call him Jeff - waves me over, and we all shake hands. So you must be our special winner, he says, caviar spilling from his lips. I have a gift for you. Bezos the younger - whose name is, I want to say, Matt; no, it's got to be Alan - presents me with a vest to match their own in a child-sized medium. Perfect for me. I slip it on and ask if I could use one of the land yacht's five bathrooms. Jeff shakes his head no and, with a smile, hands me a plastic bottle.
We board New Shepard and soar past the horizon of the Earth. And as we float high above all of humanity, the sun begins to twinkle delicately off the margins of the Bezos brothers' glistening scalps. It's like being bathed in starlight. As we spin in the infinite abyss, Jeff tells me about his vision of building a fulfillment facility on the ice of Europa, his dream of a delivery fleet trawling the surface of Mars. He closes his eyes and whispers, I am the CEO of the solar system.
I'm suddenly concerned. When I look around, I see two of the richest men on Earth have become two of the richest men in space. I must do my part. As a mid-tier Twitter personality, I feel compelled to be the voice of the people, so I take the deepest breath I can, encased in my teeny Patagonia vest, and find my voice. You guys could probably feed everybody down there if you really wanted to, huh? They laugh (laughter). And then I laugh, too, you know, just to - just to fit in.
Back on Earth, my tears flow. I'm humbled to have been part of such a rare experience. Yes, I headed to space, and I really stood up to Jeff Bezos. Mostly, I'm just happy to be home in time for my Whole Foods delivery. I had a big day; I didn't feel like shopping.
KELLY: That is Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me's guest writer, Vinny Thomas.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.