Roger Abbott RIP
March 28, 2011 8:08 PM   Subscribe

One of the key members of the award-winning Canadian comedy institution Royal Canadian Air Farce, Roger Abbott died on March 26th after a 14-year battle with leukemia.

Abbott's comedy success started on CBC radio in the 70s, with Air Farce performing many shows in towns and cities across the country and eventually the comedy troupe began a regular TV show. Abbott impersonated the likes of former PM Jean Chretien, the Queen and George W. Bush.
You can listen to a moving tribute by his closest friend and business partner, Don Ferguson, and others on this CBC Q radio broadcast.
posted by hala mass (22 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I was never really a fan of Air Farce but when I listened to Q this morning Don Ferguson's words were very moving indeed.
posted by chococat at 8:22 PM on March 28, 2011

I don't think I'll ever be able to think of Roger Abbott without picturing him as Jean Chretien. RIP Roger.

posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:39 PM on March 28, 2011

Air Farce was great during the radio years and it used to be the highlight of my weekend as a kid. I'll miss him.
posted by sfred at 8:41 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


posted by Mike Mongo at 8:45 PM on March 28, 2011

definitely one of my favourite comedians from when I was younger. this guy will be sorely missed.
posted by sarastro at 8:53 PM on March 28, 2011

Abbot as Jean Chretien.

And here is a youtube link of the Q episode, with comics remembering Roger Abbott.

posted by hepta at 9:26 PM on March 28, 2011

Although I prefer Scott Thompson's Queen to his, I totally loved his Jean Chretien impression.

posted by LMGM at 9:34 PM on March 28, 2011

I will greatly miss him.

posted by seawallrunner at 9:36 PM on March 28, 2011

It became de rigeur to ridicule at the Air Farce in the last years of its television incarnation, which became increasingly forced over the years, even though the old spirit was always there. Old-timers - children of the 80s, even - remember that it wasn't always thus.

As a radio show, the Air Farce toured Canada, recording shows in a different city every couple of weeks. I saw them once, when I was perhaps 11 or 12: "Live from Sault Ste. Marie, it's the Royal Canadian Air Farce! (Ici farce Canada!)" There were 1,000 people in the audience, and it was as close to a love-in as a middle-Canadian audience of CBC listeners in the early 1990s got. They were an incredible act: Warm and ingratiating, with their unneccesarily elaborate live sound effects and exaggerated mugging, making the audience feel like they were in on a prank being played on the rest of the country.

The troupe, as always, had done their homework on the city: Part of their schtick was to drop local in-jokes into a national broadcast, which wrapped local crowds around their pinky fingers in an instant. (This being before the Web, I can only imagine that researching small-town politics from abroad was a chore.) TV viewers from their later years might remember "Mike from Canmore," John Morgan's all-purpose bumpkin character. In their radio days, Mike would be from the closest hick town to the city in question. Hearing your city's dirty laundry aired on national radio: fantastic. Hearing the hick town next-door get trashed? Now that's a show.

Go back and listen to their radio recordings, and listen to the sound of the audiences reacting to their broad, familiar humour. It's a different kind of laughter, slow, rolling and building. It's not the sound of an audience laughing hysterically; it's the sound of an audience having fun. There's a difference. You can laugh at a stranger, but you have fun with friends.

This all comes back to me, when the news about Roger Abbott broke, and hunting around I discovered that the Air Farce website has streaming audio from all of their radio albums, with clips recorded across the country. (It's in RealAudio, speaking of flashbacks.)

So again, go listen:

Comedy Album (1978)
Air Farce Live (1983)
The Green Album (1989)
To Air is Human, to Farce Divine (1990) [Abbott and John Morgan barely keep it together in "Amy's Elephant Hunt"]
Farce on a Stick (1991)
Year of the Farce (1992) [Revisit "Duelling Joes," with Double Exposure's Bob Robertson, which I remember from the day it aired.]
Twenty Twenty
Unplugged and Uncorked (1993) [I remain fond of "Zap-a-cat," but you have to imagine Luba Goy doing the cat.]

Anyway, I prattle. I was enormously sad to hear the news yesterday. I'm sorry for the long comment. It's just my way of saying
posted by bicyclefish at 9:44 PM on March 28, 2011 [14 favorites]

posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:50 PM on March 28, 2011

Wow, glad to see I'm not the only one who remembers the heyday of Air Farce from back when they were a radio-only affair. I think I saw them once at the old CBC studio in Cabbagetown as a child. Dave Broadfoot was the best of them IMO, but it's definitely a loss to say goodbye to Roger Abbot.

posted by GuyZero at 10:27 PM on March 28, 2011

posted by threetoed at 12:26 AM on March 29, 2011

posted by edmcbride at 2:39 AM on March 29, 2011

posted by joeycoleman at 3:20 AM on March 29, 2011

posted by redyaky at 4:45 AM on March 29, 2011

posted by northtwilight at 6:04 AM on March 29, 2011

Yes, I heard that Q interview yesterday. At the end there when Don Ferguson got really emotional there was a long, LONG moment of dead air and I thought, "Oh god they've all become unglued. Now what?" Then Jian choked out "Yeah, we've got about a minute left." Live radio is hard sometimes.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:33 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Did the Air Farce ever spoof The Vinyl Café with Stuart McLean? There's comedy gold in them thar hills.
posted by anthill at 7:48 AM on March 29, 2011

posted by Alterscape at 8:40 AM on March 29, 2011

posted by Gridlock Joe at 8:51 AM on March 29, 2011

Sorry to hear that he's gone. Never was a fan of Air Farce, but I occasionally got a chuckle from the commercials for the show.
posted by antifuse at 1:47 PM on March 29, 2011

I haven't kept up with the Royal Canadian Air Farce in recent years, but when I was younger, I saw them live with my parents a few times.
I don't think I'll ever be able to think of Jean Chretien without picturing him as Roger Abbott.
posted by Stove at 7:55 PM on March 31, 2011

« Older "We, like you, have problems with hostile...   |   Still the spring winds come and the young girls... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments