New Year's came early--and Christmas too--for fans of the Royal Canadian Air Farce. The retired comedy troupe reunited for two performances this past Thursday and Friday nights in Toronto. The occasion was a taping of the 17th annual Air Farce New Year's Eve special, airing Dec. 31 at 8 p.m. and repeated again at midnight on CBC.
Farce veteran Roger Abbott (back in the spotlight with stage director Pat McDonald, below) told the crowd in the bleachers Friday that CBC brass had called and said it just wouldn't be New Year's without you, so the new special was ordered. Air Farce retired as a weekly series last year after a 35-year run on CBC television and radio.
Since the 10th floor CBC broadcast centre studio that bears their name is now home to Hockey Night in Canada's Ron MacLean and Don Cherry as well as the Rick Mercer Report, the gang reassembled down the hall in another studio.
It didn't take the cast and crew long to find their feet and pick up right where they had left off one year earlier. Droll director McDonald delivered his old familiar audience cue, "okay...prepare to laugh...this one is hilarious," and the crowd ate it up.
Six members of the troupe were back: long time veterans Abbott, Don Ferguson and Luba Goy as well as Craig Lauzon, Park and Penelope Corrin. Jessica Holmes couldn't wiggle out of her Toronto gig performing nightly in the latest Ross Petty Christmas panto, Robin Hood.
The Friday taping saw Battle of the Blades champions Jamie Sale and Craig Simpson (top right with Lauzon as Don Cherry) lace up some roller skates for a Blades spoof. The Dragon's Den judges, as well as Peter Mansbridge, are also featured on the special.
Park did a wicked take on Sham-Wow pitchman Vince and also delivered a pretty edgy riff on some news headlines from 2009. There are plenty of Farce Films, including goofs on the Oympic torch relay and iPhone ads. The famed Chicken Cannon has been mothballed, but never fear--the Farce has a new secret weapon, and several deserving 2009 targets got their just desserts (and vegetables).
The studio audience was once again entertained between sketches by Ground Crew troubadours Dave Matheson and Maury LaFoy (right), who sang old favourites like "I've Been Everywhere" and the one about "Why Do Christmas Songs Have Too Many Chords."
It all added up to a great evening and should translate into an even better special New Year's Eve.