Canada’s Dismally Depleted Air Farce

Attention CBC Television fans: Stop watching Royal Canadian Air Farce!


I’ve long felt the need to clearly and confidently state, with the utmost of sincerity, that Air Farce is a terrible show.

I say this with a truly noble intent, my friends. Whereas most of us consumers of comedy media know fully well that Canada has an excellent knack for bringing the funny, a show like Air Farce has been pushing our comedy stock value down for a couple of decades now.

Trust me, I don’t say this lightly. I’ve sat through long half-hours of tired sketches, extremely lame jokes and truly awful impersonations to arrive at this conclusion: Air Farce just isn’t funny.

I’ve given the show more chances than it really deserves and only by virtue that it is a Canadian comedy show and that the show has an obvious venerability.

But being around for a long time doesn’t make one funny, and aging hasn’t done anything for Air Farce but make Luba Goy’s character choices less believable.

I want to be proud of Canadian comedy.

I remember the good ol’ days of being glued to the set, ready to have my brain altered by the SCTV gang. Codco and This Hour has 22 Minutes (only while Greg Toomey was on) and The Frantics had some great hits. And I still love catching re-runs of the highest watermark of Canadian comedy TV, The Kids in The Hall.

So what happened to Air Farce?

I’d posit that Air Farce jumped the shark as soon as we could see the cast. Having been on the radio since 1973, they made a jump onto television via a special in 1992, then five years later they were regulars on the CBC TV line-up.

Performing on radio and television has some obvious differences. While the Air Farce members could easily bring the charisma when our imaginations filled in the blanks, seeing them on air changed everything dramatically.

The dynamic was completely different and certain things radio could forgive were garishly pointed out. A good voice actor doesn’t make a good actor. Watching Luba Goy impersonate Wendy Mesley made a part of me die inside … the part that had a crush on Wendy Mesley.

Look at what happened to Double Exposure. They were extremely popular on radio, but the jump to television pretty much buried them.

It was Air Farce’s venerability that has been saving them so far, but as its jokes get more tired (seriously, I swear the writers are phoning it in), shouldn’t we just cut our losses?

Television comedy is a tough battleground so, naturally, CBC (the network that is pathetically alone in believing Sean Cullen is funny) is going to rely on Air Farce’s history to keep it afloat. It’s a safe bet, and I don’t blame them for it.

What disappoints me is that people might look at Air Farce as a standard of Canadian comedy even though there are so many other astronomically better Canadian comedy shows.

And you’ll have to pull yourself away from the Mother Corp. to catch some of these … I know, heresy!

There’s the fantastic History Bites, created by Frantics alumnus Rick Green.

While personally not an impersonation fan, History Bites has some of the best.

Trailer Park Boys is certainly a niche, but it covers it extremely well. Same goes for the new Jon Dore Television Show.

Shows like The Newsroom and Twitch City knocked it out of the park with style and creativity.

Though sometimes hit or miss, I can also recommend Comics and Comedy Now, which feature new and upcoming Canadian stand-up comedians.

So, since we all know that Canadians can make a superior comedy product, we need to acknowledge when something isn’t funny anymore.

Feel free to keep the memory of their past glories intact, but it’s time now to retire the Air Farce.

If you need a supportive hug, I’ll be around.

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