Arnold Pinnock is one with the Farce

Pinnock (second from right) helps his new Farce family drop the F-Bomb

Joining a comedy troupe that has been in business for 40 years has to be daunting. Arnold Pinnock proves he is up to the task in the annual Air Farce New Years special, airing Sunday at 8 p.m. on CBC.
The look back at the year in comedy has aired New Year’s Eve for almost 20 years but was moved back a day this year because CBC is airing a hockey game Saturday night.
The special was taped over two nights earlier this month and I caught the first night’s effort. It did seem different without ringmaster Roger Abbott there to greet the fans in the bleachers. Still, Don Ferguson and the rest of the gang got right down to the business of comedy. The troupe taped way more than they needed to fill the hour-long slot, paring it all down later to the best sketches.
Pinnock’s road to the Farce stage is pretty interesting. He started out as a young production assistant when Air Farce began as a weekly series back in the early ’90s. He got to know most of the technical crew at CBC, and says he runs into many friends on his way from the ground floor to the 10th floor studios.

Pinnock (right, with Park) channeling Oprah

Being the first person of colour in the troupe, he was thrust into sketches where he gets to goof on Oprah Winfrey and Mike Tyson, among others. Alan Park still does president Barack Obama and that’s cool, says Pinnock. “We didn’t even think twice about it,” he says. “It’s clearly ironic. He’s playing Obama and I’m playing Oprah. There was no mention of colour or whatever and that’s the beauty of what we do in comedy. Because we never brought it to anyones attention I think the audience immediately jumped on board.”
Besides, as Pinnock points out, if a 6-foot-1, 190-pound man can play Oprah, why can’t Park play Obama?
Pinnock was also a main player in the Combat Hospital cast and talks about that shows sudden demise after a hit run last summer on Global. “The feedback from the men and women who are serving overseas—not just as doctors and nurses but also the soldiers—we really took to heart,” he says. “We got letters and pictures of people sitting in front of the real Kandahar air force base. It really, really meant a lot. You felt it in your gut every single day. Your priority was to get this right.”
For more on Pinnock and Air Farce, read the feature I wrote this week for The Canadian Press.

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