Dom Joly: The kindness of a stranger shows all's not lost in LA

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The Independent Online

I landed in Los Angeles very unrested. The whole point of business/upper class is that you can be comfortable, pampered and arrive at your destination fresh and ready for action. Not for me – the whole cabin had been taken over by a lairy group of "guys" on their way to Las Vegas for some stag-type celebration. There was no sign of the credit crunch here. Maybe this lot didn't dabble in stocks and shares? Maybe they were strictly cash only? Whatever, they spent the whole flight getting more and more pissed and shouting, "I'm on the plane, I'm on the plane, no it's rubbish...."

I was like a zombie when I got to my friend's house in Santa Monica. I'm out here to start the long but exciting process of trying to get my movie made. The guy I made Trigger Happy TV with moved out here two years ago and we're on a mission to conquer the USA. I went to bed straight away as we had a busy day ahead of us. At three in the morning, there was a terrible shaking and I felt myself hit the floor. Was this "The Big One?" Was I going to experience my first earthquake and be swept into the Pacific with the rest of the city? How cruel is nature, always there to dash my showbiz dreams.... Actually my bed had just collapsed. It was one of those embarrassing moments when you're staying with someone – like the loo not flushing after a particularly fruitful deposit. I rang Stacey in a panic: "What shall I do?"

"Put the mattress on the floor, go back to sleep and sort it out in the morning...." She's so wise, my wife.

It turned out to be not that big a deal. Even after two years here my friend has not totally committed to LA and got all his furniture in a job lot from Ikea. The furniture is all made from that curiously soft condensed sawdust material that Ikea uses. My bed had collapsed twice before so I felt a lot better about things.

I couldn't help thinking that Ricky Gervais probably didn't have to put up with this sort of thing when he's in town. Ah well, a little patience and I'll be back where I belong, in the Four Seasons surrounded by monogrammed pillow cases....

We headed off to Studio City and drove into Universal Studios to get some costumes. In the lift a sign read: "Trigger Happy Movie Room 4128". It all felt very surreal. I'm doing a series of photo shoots with some of the characters in situ to help with our pitch. The first one was "Falling Down" man, inspired by the character Michael Douglas plays in the movie. It involved me standing in the middle of LA's financial district dressed in a dishevelled business suit with my briefcase hanging wide open and empty, an obvious victim of the credit crunch. Nervous bankers walked past me, trying to ignore this physical portent of their futures. Suddenly one of them broke ranks and came to talk to me....

"Hey buddy you OK?" he asked with concern in his eyes. I was too embarrassed to break character and point out the guy with the huge zoom lens over the street.

"I... lost my job today, they just came and said it was all over... I've got nothing...."

I looked truly desolate. My new friend smiled softly.

"Don't worry, buddy, the whole country is going through a tough time right now but we'll get through it. We've just got to stand together. I lost my job two years back but I got it together and so will you. What sector are you in, do you want some lunch? Maybe I can help you?"

I was totally gobsmacked – it was an extraordinary gesture of random humanity – all is definitely not lost in the USA.

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