Dom Joly: LA is like the Cotswolds, but with better facelifts

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The Independent Online

I'm off to Los Angeles for a week. It's for work, but as it's my wife's birthday, I am taking her with me for a treat. I want to give her the full LA treatment, as it will be the first time she's been to California, despite having been born in the United States. The problem is, when I come to think of it, what is the "full LA treatment?"

I have compiled a quick list, garnered from experience. First, I must take her to a restaurant in which she will be the only person present who has not had "work" done. Sadly, this will differ very little from posher parts of the Cotswolds, except that they will have spent more money on the procedure in LA and therefore are slightly less likely to look like the bride of Frankenstein. There is always one glorious exception however, about whom you spend ages trying to decide whether it's surgery or an art installation.

Second, we shall play the game where you try to get somebody to say "no". Weirdly, although they almost always mean "no" they can never say the word to your face. You can end an unbelievably exciting meeting with everybody taking contact details and back-slapping each other about how exciting the project is... then you will never hear from them again. You get used to it, but the first couple of times are surreal. When I first went there after Trigger Happy TV, we were limousined from weird meeting to weird meeting with groups of sharp-suited smiling sharks who "loved" everything we said. We eventually had a competition to see if we could get them to say no to anything?

"We want to make a show in which we staple cats to the front of trains and put cameras in their ears... I want to call it Pussy Train."

"Wow... that's out there... but I think I like that...."

"What about if we wanted to do a show where homeless people are hurled into the sea using medieval catapults. It's sort of historytainment ... working title, Elastic Hobos."

"Woo ... that is left field ... but I really like that ... it's different and edgy."

"I've just killed a man. He's in the trunk of my car. Could I bury him in your garden?"

"Sure... sure thing, we can work something out. We've got each other's contact details, right?"

Third, I will take her to Venice Beach where we will take in the sights. These include, the lunatic man with an Afro who wanders around on roller skates playing the guitar, the meatheads who spend all day working out on Muscle Beach while secretly wishing that they were happy, and the men walking dogs the size of hamsters while wearing nothing but tiny, tiny shorts.

Finally, we shall drive up into the Hollywood Hills and try to get near the Hollywood sign for a souvenir photo. No matter which way we go, we will never get close enough to said sign. Every turn will take us the wrong way and get us stuck behind an angry man in a Toyota Prius who will keep flicking me V signs about something mysterious that I've done wrong. Eventually I will lose my temper and overtake him in a dangerous manner while calling him nasty names. This angry driver will turn out to be the only man who actually liked my "project" for real. He immediately cancels my deal. I park the car and start weeping.

Once this tour is completed, Stacey, like me, will have had enough of LA. We will drive away as quickly as possible in our naff, rented convertible, off into the Mojave Desert where we will wander among the Joshua trees trying to reclaim our souls.