At Sundance, festgoers were lavished with Motorola cell phones and Kenneth Cole shoes. At the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, the sexiest free giveaway was … oxygen.
Not the network, the stuff you breathe.
In the high-altitude Rockies, oxygen is a less abundant — and therefore treasured — commodity. Throughout the fest, comics, network execs and filmmakers were frequently seen pausing to catch their breath after huffing up the stairs of the St. Regis Hotel, where the event was headquartered.
At the ready were tanks of “flavored” oxygen — rosemary mint, eucalyptus, vanilla — that users could inhale via thin plastic tubes that fit into their nostrils.
The oxygen bar attracted as many, if not more, folks than the real bar set up 10 feet away.
“It’s a great hangover cure,” said the young woman disbursing the tubes.
“Yeah! Oxygen!” said a young man who looked like he’d just been skiing. The woman pumped him with vanilla.
“I think I’ve had enough,” said ThinkFilm’s Mark Urman, removing his blue tubes. “I feel years younger and pounds lighter!”
Oxygen was also incorporated into many of the stand-up acts at the fest.
During his act, Patton Oswalt said the air in Aspen felt like it was spiked with PCP. Greg Behrendt remarked that he thought he was going to pass out mid-act because he couldn’t breathe.
He didn’t, but if he had, there were a dozen oxygen tanks backstage for precisely that purpose.
Not that Aspen was entirely swag-free. Top-tier “Black Diamond” ticketholders got bags packed with such items as a T-shirt, a microfleece blanket and a chrome flask in the shape of a cell phone.