Farewell to the Farce
Tonight marks the official end of the Royal Canadian Air Farce's 35 year run. While I probably won't watch tonight's final episode - I've never been a big fan of the televised version - I nevertheless feel a sense of loss at the passing of what has been a national institution. Air Farce was, for better or for worse, a major part of my induction into the world of Canadian politics.
When asked, I usually tell people that my first political memory was watching the 1984 election returns with my Dad. I was seven years old at the time, and didn't really process what was going on, but I could gather from his reaction that Mulroney's election was bad news. Fast forward four years, and I'm driving about Toronto - again with my Dad - in the family Chevy Malibu on a Saturday morning in September. He turns up the volume on the CBC show that's playing on the radio - Air Farce - and the two of us laugh our way through the sketches. It was their annual back-from-summer wrap-up of the events from the previous three months. I don't remember most of the material, but I've never forgotten the short ad for "Uncle Ben's Steroid Rice", which cooks itself in 9.79 seconds - a reference to the Ben Johnson scandal at the Seoul Olympics. We sat in the driveway listening to the end of the show before heading back inside.
I was hooked. Every week, I'd set up the tape deck to record Air Farce off the radio - either at 10:30 on Saturday mornings or 1:00 on Sunday afternoons. I still have several dozen tapes stretching from 1988 to 1994 down in my basement, recordings from the weekly shows taped across the country. My Dad took my to my first Air Farce taping at Massey Hall in December of '88 - an annual tradition we kept up until the Farce switched to television. I became a member of the Air Farce Frequent Flyer club (I still have the magnet on my fridge), and have all their CDs - even the hard-to-find Green Album, for which I made a trek down to their downtown Toronto offices.
I didn't stick with Farce after they switched to television. I've always felt that they were better vocal mimics than screen actors (although Don Ferguson did a great job imitating Mulroney's walk - a great visual gag for the live audiences). But they will continue to hold a special place in my heart - particularly what I consider to be the "classic cast" of Roger Abbott, Don Ferguson, Luba Goy, John Morgan and Dave Broadfoot. My rather cynical approach to Canadian politics owes a lot to the Farce.
Ici Farce Canada!
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