Everyone’s a Critic

I heard yesterday that come this new year’s eve, we we will see the last new episode of The Royal Canadian Air Farce. (which, for non-Canadians, is described at its website as a weekly comedy show offering a “…unique and hilarious blend of topical humor aimed at our country’s (and the world’s) most newsworthy people and events.”)

I was flipping channels last night and halted at The National (Canada’s National Nightly News) when Peter Mansbridge mentioned the story was coming up. I waited and while I waited, I rejoiced. Saint Aardvark called from the kitchen, “Maybe it’s an April Fool’s joke…” and I wept a little in fear but then yea I did rejoice again because it’s true: this dreadful, unfunny, overwrought travesty of Canadiana is finally being taken out back and shot.

The reporter called Air Farce a “…Canadian tradition…” and “…our version of Saturday Night Live,” to which I said “Bullshit! HOLY BULLSHIT!” so loud I woke the neighbours.

Canadian tradition – maybe. Like complaining about that long stretch of weeks without long weekends between January 1st and Easter (unless you are in one of the provinces that gets Random February Day Off, in which case you will complain about not getting paid for it. Which complaining is totally justified.) Or tradition, like Boxing Day sales? Awesome – I guess we’ll take our traditions where we get ’em.

But comparing Air Farce (which, to start, puns are not funny) to Saturday Night Live is like comparing carob to chocolate. Soy cheese to real cheese. Fiat to Ferrari. And I haven’t liked SNL for years either but that’s an old saw I won’t play today.

Back in the day, we 30-somethings like to say, when it was on the radio, maybe, OK, it might have been relevant and sometimes funny. But I don’t even trust that memory anymore because I was a kid. A kid with pretty poor taste, who wore a lot of peach and aqua. Together. Often in slouch sock form.

Then The Air Farce switched to TV. And I guess what was left of the “we’re on radio so let’s just be funny and perform for our live studio audience” turned into “we’re on TV so we need elaborate costumes and sets and LOTS of mugging to the camera.” Because the comedy, such as it was, turned into:

“Set up.”
“Set up.”
“Set up.”

…audience laughter and camera shot of guy in baseball cap in audience slapping his thigh.

Oooh, a joke about a politician’s teeth getting cleaned … at the taxpayers’ expense! Ooooh, a bunch of people at a coffee shop talking about current events and being mildly snarky about it! Because I don’t know ANY people who make mildly snarky comments about current events. No, it’s not like I’ve worked in an office for 10 years and have had to deal with, “So, ‘ja hear about the guy on the weekend who drove into a light post because he was texting his girlfriend? She was in the passenger seat the whole time! Whatta maroooooon!” every goddamn Monday morning when all I want is a cup of tea.

Yes, good comedy, like all popular art forms, should have a universal appeal. But it doesn’t need to be mundane to be universal. I have to guess that Air Farce has been the “top rated Canadian comedy show for X years” either because there aren’t any others to choose from or because the Boomers (and older) have the remote controls. It’s not their fault – they don’t know how funny it isn’t because they’re on the couch, feet up on the coffee table, sleeping through it. Canned laughter makes a soothing lullaby if your adult years were spent watching sit-coms evolve.

Canada has a rich artistic landscape sprinkled liberally with comedians. I know some of them personally and if I, one of the lesser social beings you will ever encounter, know some, then there must be scads of them. I hope the people who have been making Air Farce for the past 20 years get to move on to something greater and I hope they are replaced by today’s funny people. Oh, and please: no spin-offs.

This entry was posted in not funny, television. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Everyone’s a Critic