May the Farce Be with You
The fresh faces of Canada’s hit comedy discuss Billy Idol, getting laughs, and taking a chance in Toronto.
By Crissandra Ayroso
“Don't touch that dial! Don't touch that one either! And stop touching yourself! SCTV is on the air!”
In the late 70’s, SCTV proved that as Canadians we can laugh at ourselves. Today, we’re still laughing.
“We have this reputation for being very laid back,” said David Spencer, professor of information and media studies at the University of Western Ontario. “Yet we produce these wild people.”
Canada and comedy go hand in hand. Somehow, we have a knack for producing great comedic talent: John Candy, Mike Myers, Jim Carrey, Dan Aykroyd, Martin Short, and Eugene Levy are only a few funny Canadians who have shot to worldwide stardom.
“We have a tendency to be far more poignant [than other nationalities],” explained Spencer. “[We’re] far more clear on what we find humorous and what we don’t find humorous.”
There is no better example of what Canadians find funny than the Royal Canadian Air Farce, one of Canada’s longest running series. By poking fun at the politicians and personalities familiar to its audience, it has been a regular source of laughter for over 30 years.
The Farce originated on CBC radio and made its transition to CBC television with a few specials in the 80’s and then eventually with a weekly series in 1992. Air Farce has always been gifted with talented writers and performers, and Don Ferguson is one of many who have made a career for themselves on air at the CBC.
“Toronto has been very good for me,” said Ferguson who has been with the Farce since day one. “It gave me the chance to do what I wanted—which is write—and a chance to perform in comedy. Without being conscious of it, I ended up specializing in both.”
Recently, the show took on three new, fun-loving players of a younger generation - Jessica Holmes, Craig Lauzon, and Alan Park.
These fresh voices add a new satirical tone to the show, especially the politically-oriented Alan Park. Park’s political edge typifies Canadian humour, and it is this type of satire that has fuelled the Farce for over thirty years.
“It’s fun because you never get tired of getting laughs. It’s probably something as simple as an addiction. Ask a junkie, ‘what is it about heroin that you love so much?’ ‘I dunno, it makes me feel good every time I use it.’ So, it makes me feel good every time I get a laugh.”
Jessica Holmes started out in comedy on a dare one night and has turned a hobby in to a career. “I’m really addicted and committed to comedy,” confessed Holmes who is in her third year at the Farce.
“Billy Idol once said he wants a new hit song more than the right woman,” Holmes related. “He wants the right song more than the right woman. And I was like, ‘wow, I can sort of relate to that,’ in terms of, even more than I want a relaxing life. I want comedy.”