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Air Farce: 40 Years of Flying by the Seat of Our Pants [Hardcover]

Roger Abbott , Don Ferguson
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 25 2011
A rollicking, behind-the-scenes look at Canada's favourite comedy troupe

A staple of CBC television for fifteen years, with diehard fans numbering in the millions, Canada's Royal Canadian Air Farce exemplifies brilliant comedic mayhem. Written by the founding members of Air Farce—Roger Abbott and Don Ferguson—this candid memoir, full of anecdotes, photographs, scripts, and other memorabilia from the authors' private collection describes every aspect of their hard-scrabble early life in 1970 as an onstage comedy troupe, their historic run on radio, and their spectacular success on prime-time television.

With contributions from many of their longtime friends and collaborators, including Dave Broadfoot (whose "When I regained consciousness" tagline is now part of the Canadian vernacular), and the irrepressive Luba Goy, Air Farce takes readers behind the scenes, and onstage, into the day-to-day creative vortex of one of the most popular comedy shows in the history of Canadian television.

  • Offers unprecedented access to the intimate workings of Canada's legendary comedy troupe—from their days as "something fun to do on Sunday nights" in theatres to their arrival on Canadian television, as one of its highest rated shows
  • The authors share the highlights, lowlights, successes, and tragedies that resulted from their Air Farce collaboration

Offering a no-holds-barred look at the key players that turned comedy talent into prime-time gold, Air Farce offers their legions of fans a genuine keepsake destined to last at least as long as the troupe's forty-year career—if not longer.


Product Details


Product Description

From the Inside Flap

Our beloved Air Farce—masters of mimicry and parody, whose send-ups of politicians, pundits and plebeians—provided our weekly fare of laughs for almost four decades. Here, for the first time, is the story of the Farce, from its very beginning—the serendipitous meeting of two thirteen-year-olds on the steps of Loyola College High School in Montreal's west end. Their names were Roger Abbott and Don Ferguson.

Roger and Don were not beneath making fun of their Jesuit teachers, and the seeds of a lifelong friendship and creative partnership were planted. Working with John Morgan and Martin Bronstein in Montreal, Roger helped create "The Jest Society," a satirical parry to Pierre Trudeau's "Just Society." Within a few months the troupe moved to Toronto, where Don Ferguson and Luba Goy joined them and, with the addition of Dave Broadfoot, the troupe evolved into Royal Canadian Air Farce.

In Flying by the Seat of Our Pants, Roger and Don take you behind the scenes to share their stories of their earliest days on CBC Radio, touring the country, and after twenty years of unprecedented radio success, landing on television for yet another incarnation of the Farce. The Farce won the hearts and minds of Canadians—both old and new—because of their uncanny ability to turn headlines into punchlines and find funny nuggets in everything from national scandals to small-town idiosyncrasies. For thirty-five years, millions of Canadians tuned into the CBC for their weekly dose of home-grown humour. They flocked to town halls, high-school gyms and charitable benefits the Farce supported, lined up for the annual Christmas revues at Toronto's Massey Hall, and clamoured for tickets to the New Year's Eve tapings.

Even those who gave the Farce fodder for their comedy—Jean Chrétien, Sheila Copps, Ron MacLean, Doug Gilmour, Joe Clark and Preston Manning, among others—shared in the fun on-stage and on-air.

You will hear the familiar voices of those who were members of the Farce and those who directed, produced and wrote for the Farce. Contributions from Luba Goy, Dave Broadfoot, Perry Rosemond, Jessica Holmes, Gord Holtam and Ivan Fecan, all interviewed by journalist and Farce fan Bill Brioux, bring their own stories and remembrances to the Farce experience. In addition, Roger and Don dug deeply into the Farce archives for a wealth of memorabilia that grace these pages.

As the Farce are so fond of saying, "May the Farce be with you!"

From the Back Cover

The Farce is with us because it is us. From their zany, crazy, bizarre minds we have learned to laugh at ourselves for a very good reason —we're funny. It just took Air Farce to make us realize it. Long live the Farce."

In my lifetime the Air Farce were always with me. I never much liked going to soccer practice when I was a kid but I loved the drive home; it meant my father and I would listen to Air Farce together. Usually we would end up sitting in the driveway, in his truck, listening to the last ten minutes, not taking a chance to run indoors in case we might miss something.

I was amazed at what they got away with, how saucy they were and the reaction they could generate, the laughter and the outrage.

As a kid I not only wanted to do what they were doing but I wanted to understand every joke. This meant watching the news, reading the paper and asking questions. They got me addicted to news and current affairs, they taught me it was okay to kick up and never kick down.

They were so much more than a group of funny people. They were a Canadian institution, like CN, The Rockies or the Atlantic cod stocks; always there when you needed them."

The Farce took it to the next level after Wayne & Shuster with a kind of participatory comedy. They helped us laugh at ourselves— and we love that self-deprecating kind of comedy in Canada. In my experience of being on the show, you were just encouraged to be yourself and have fun, and I think that's what everybody in the end did, and that's what made it work."

I know both Roger and Don were instrumental in bringing my show to CBC, although neither of them ever mentioned it. Without the Air Farce I don't believe there would be any comedy shows on the CBC schedule. It would just be news, hockey and documentaries about documentaries."

Air Farce were deeply important to me as a comedian. They were Canadians, out there, doing a show, being funny and reaching an audience."

It was one of those shows in Canada that went on forever, that went through generations of actors and all sorts of insane talent and original ideas. The backbone of our industry is shows like that."


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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars worthwhile for Farce fans! April 29 2012
By scribe
Format:Hardcover
If you were a fan of Air Farce, this book is definitely worth reading. It provides a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the show and the cast, from memorable sketches such as the "Chicken Cannon" to the troupe's adventures touring Canada. I found the portraits of Luba Goy and the late John Morgan to be quite memorable, and the book ends with a poignant account of Roger Abbott's final days. On the whole, it's an enjoyable and informative read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Story Of Canada's Premiere Satire Troupe March 31 2013
Format:Hardcover
To briefly establish my cred, I've been listening to Air farce since the late 70s, recording their CBC Radio shows since 83, and I taped pretty much all of the run of their CBC TV program. In short, I've been with these folks for a long time. Reading some of the stories that Don & Roger wrote about in this book took me back to shows I still remember well. This is a loving history of what a group of friends gave to us all, and we are all the better for their work, and for having read this book. The stories about their adventures in radio and TV, and across Canada are great fun, and show how much fun they had. The one shame is that the late 2000s CBC executives, mostly having been hired from the US and not from public broadcasting, let slip from their grasp what would have been an ongoing franchise.
If you enjoyed Royal Canadian Air Farce on radio and/or TV, you will love this book, and treasure the people who made it all happen all the more.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Air Farce Dec 17 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Arrived in great time and is for Christmas so cannot review the inside but I am sure it will be great.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
4.0 out of 5 stars Air Farce Dec 7 2011
By momsell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This a a book we will enjoy. The book arrived as soon as it was available and in excellent condition. My husband really got into it.
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