Air Farce, Ron James set to rock in the New Year

Clear the runway–the Air Farce is back for another New Year’s Eve special. All seven members of the comedy troupe–including originals Roger Abbott, Don Ferguson and Luba Goy–are back this year for the one hour special, which airs at 8 p.m. and again at midnight.
I attended night two of the taping earlier this month and found the gang in fine form, although most, including the crew, admitted it was a bit hard to shake off the rust after years as a once-a-week comedy machine in order to do these once-a-year wonders.

Corrin and Park go Gaga over Bieber

Not that the fans in the bleachers could tell. Attending a Farce taping has been a great privilege I’ve enjoyed many times over the years. Funniest sketch tonight may be Craig Lauzon’s goofy appearance as an Elmer Fudd look-a-like (they couldn’t use the name Elmer Fudd in case those wascally lawyers over at Warner Bros. sued). Fudd the fearless hunter is there to add his two cents about the long gun registry. It’s a funny bit, made funnier when I learned later from Lauzon that the saucer-sized fake ears he is wearing were previously worn by cast mate Alan Park for his Obama impersonation. Be vewy vewy quiet…I’m hunting change and hope. Hahahahha.
Jessica Holmes, a no-show last year, returns to the Farce for a couple of sketches but wasn’t at the taping I attended. She goofs on Celine Dion and the new twins, ‘natch. More front and centre is Penelope Corrin, who pulls on a Justin Bieber comb-over wig for a sketch with Park, outrageous as Lady Gaga.
The Farce guck things up toward the end with their F-Bomb, a Chicken Cannon for the new millennium that splats targets all over the studio floor. Comedy isn’t always pretty.
Special guest tonight is Lloyd Robertson, about to enter Year Two of his victory lap. The veteran CTV News anchor was saluted after the sketch by Abbott, who noted the many years Robertson also read the news on CBC (over 50 years between the two networks.) Ageless Robertson looked like he could go another 50 and seemed happy to kid himself. He got a big hand from the studio audience.

Ron James with Brampton Queen Scott Thompson

One of the sharper sketches tonight is Park’s poke at Ron James, who follows the Farce with another one of his New Year’s Eve specials tonight at 9 p.m. James inherited the Farce’s Friday night timeslot although the CBC has limited his run to half a season again this year. The hardest working man in Canadian showbusiness is a true road warrior, working dates right across Canada in 2011. I spoke with him about a month ago at his office on King Street East, across from the Toronto Sun. James was pleased with the way his show was rounding into form this season, mashing guest comedians like Colin Mochrie and Debra McGrath in with his clever, animated “Little Ronnie” sketches and the stand up he performs each week on his show. Seinfeld used a similar stand up conceit when that show was starting but phased it out over time. James never intends to drop it, although he admits it is a tough job for he and his writers to come up with original stand up material each week.
James shtick is pretty demanding, especially the intricacies of his word play, all strung together with a Cape Cod lilt. It is that unique aspect of James act that Park targets on tonight’s Air Farce sketch. Park was going for an impersonation that James himself will both love and hate and I’m pretty sure he hit a bulls eye.
In any event, the comedy New Year’s tradition continues at CBC and it is one Canadians seem to cherish. One year ago, the total audience number for the Air Farce New Year’s special, factoring in PVR viewing, topped two million. Let the Farce be with them all again this year.

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