Friday, 21 December 2018 17:54

Air Farce Gets High

Written by  Dennis Kucherawy
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Air Farce Gets High with Its Annual New Year’s Eve Special Featuring Canadian-born Comic and Pot Proponent Tommy Chong

Acclaimed Homegrown Comedy Troupe Celebrates 45th Anniversary

Guest stars include Natalie Spooner, Gold Medal Olympian and Member of Canada’s Women’s Hockey Team, and actress Lauren Lee Smith of the “Frankie Drake Mysteries”

By Dennis Kucherawy

 

“Up in Smoke” goes CBC Air Farce’s 45th anniversary as Edmonton-born Tommy Chong returns to his native land to get high celebrating with the Air Farce troupe in its annual CBC-TV special.  Renowned as one-half of the counter-culture comedy team Cheech and Chong, Chong is also a cannabis rights activist.  With Canada making pot legal this year, it’s the perfect time for Chong to join the team as a guest.

He appears with Air Farce vets Craig Lauzon and Jessica Homes on a parody radio phone-in chat show,”Cross Country Check-up.”  Craig is host Duncan McHugh and Jessica plays an uptight opponent, while Chong is a caller from Edmonton who joins the two in-studio.  Chong, of course, comically advocates the benefits of pot, especially a blend called “Northern Lights.”

Other news events of the year to come under Air Farce’s comical and satirical focus on such news items and issues of 2018 as climate change, the fallout of the #MeToo movement, Brexit, the Trans Mountain Pipeline, the movie “Black Panther,” and the Queen expecting the birth of royal great-grandchild.

An annual highlight of the program is the F-BOMB, in which the five most irritating people and news items of 2018.  Buckets of “monstrously messy guck” are dropped on their images from a height of 50 feet.

Luba Goy and Don Ferguson, two of the original Air Farce members since its founding in 1973 appear on the show.  Others, in addition to Craig Lauzon and Jessica Holmes, are Darryl Hinds (“The Beaverton”), Chris Wilson (“Meet the Family”), and Isabel Kanaan (“Haunted or Hoax”.)

Air Farce’s Craig Lauzon chatted with Song & Script via e-mail:

SS:  With pot becoming legal in Canada this year, it’s a great time for Tommy Chong to return to his native land to appear on CBC’s Air Farce.  “I never thought I’d see this happen, said your floor director.  “In this studio?”
Do you agree?

Craig Lauzon: It is quite the coup to have Tommy Chong, a counter-culture icon, on our set.  I don’t think he ever thought that he would be on mainstream TV.

SS:  What was it like working with Tommy?  And, of course, with Jessica Holmes on the same skit?  The three of you are terrific comedy talents. Did you improvise?  Any fun anecdotes?

CL: I was like a giddy school boy with Tommy on set.  It’s a dream come true.  Now, I’m rehearsing a play (“An Unsafe Space” at Toronto’s Tranzac Club) with his daughter, Precious Chong.  Funny how things work out.

Jess and I are old hat.  We’ve known one another for decades.  I went to school with her brother and she and I did our first show together at the Ottawa Little Theatre around 1990.

SS:  Craig, you had some friends in the audience at Friday’s taping (Dec. 7th).  What was their surprised reaction like to seeing Tommy Chong?  Were you all fans of Tommy’s in high school in Ottawa?

CL:  Yes.  In fact, my friends had hatched a plan to come to the taping at my wedding this past summer.  I didn’t tell them that Tommy was a guest.  They collectively lost their minds when he entered.  One friend yelled tu his love for him and another tried to rush the stage for a hug before my wife stopped him, LOL.

We used to sit at my buddy’s place and listen to “Cheech and Chong” albums all though high school.

SS:  Natalie Spooner, Canadian women’s hockey Gold Medal Olympian forward and inner of the Clarkson Cup, also appears on your show in a “Budweiser” skit lampooning the popular “flashing red light goal score” glasses.  She performed well.  What was she like to work with?

CL:  Natalie was a little nervous at first, but very excited to be on set.  While she has done quite a lot on camera, this was her first time performing live sketch comedy.  She did a great job.  She’s really funny and a super sweet person.

SS:  Let’s talk about Air Farce as it celebrates its 45th anniversary.  It’s been 16 years since you first appeared with the troupe and you’ve been a regular on TV since 2004.

What are you happiest memories?  Funny anecdotes?

CL:  I loved “Air Farce Live,” the season that our weekly TV series became a live-to-air telecast.  We hired a team of writers and had a plethora of scripts to choose from every week.  We did a piece written by Luciano Casmiri about the Noro Virus and it was the best time I’ve ever had on screen… SO much fun!

SS:  And finally, Craig, your Donald Trump.  I told you your impersonation of his is better than Alec Baldwin’s on NBC’s Saturday Night Live.  What kind of responses do you get?  What aspects/characteristics of him make him so easy for you to “do”?

CL:  Thanks for the compliment.  I actually tweeted Alec Baldwin to try and get a Trump-off going, but it never happened, LOL.

It’s actually a tough thing to do because there is too much material to choose from.  It’s difficult to pinpoint which aspects to lampoon.  The hair and makeup really help – the likeness is pretty uncanny.

“Air Farce New Year’s Eve 2018” premieres nationally on CBC-TV Monday, Dec. 31st at 8 p.m. (8:30 p.m. NT.)  An encore telecast is later the same evening at 12:10 a.m. (12:40 a.m. NT.)

By Dennis Kucherawy

Last modified on Friday, 21 December 2018 18:04
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