In its best-known time on television, Royal Canadian Air Farce was a group of comedians that consisted of John Morgan, Luba Goy, Don Ferguson and Roger Abbott as main performers, with Dave Broadfoot making special appearances every now and then, and Rick Olsen and Gord Holtam as writers. The first incarnation of the group, however, appeared in Montreal in 1970 as the improvisational stage theatre group known as The Jest Society, originally composed of John Morgan, Martin Bronstein, Patrick Conlon, Gay Claitman and Roger Abbott. By January of 1971, Mr. Conlon and Mr. Claitman had left the group and Ms. Goy and Mr. Ferguson had joined. With Mr. Broadfoot's appearance in 1973, the group as most people are familiar with it was formed and was named Royal Canadian Air Farce.
The group's first radio performance was on Dec. 9, 1973, on CBC Radio, and its television show first aired on CBC Television in October of 1980 as a one-hour special. The show ranked No. 2 for the week (behind Hockey Night in Canada), leading to CBC requesting 10 more episodes to be aired weekly. A change in CBC Television management led to Air Farce leaving television until 1992, when the group produced "1992 Year of the Farce" on New Year's Eve of 1992 and sold it to CBC Television. The episode was a success, and the first episode of the Air Farce television show that most viewers are familiar with -- complete with the opening theme composed by the Barenaked Ladies -- aired on Oct. 8, 1993.
Air Farce's four core performers are best known for their political satire and deadpan delivery in addition to sheer goofiness, and among the most well-known characters played by them are the following.
- Roger Abbott: Peter Mansbridge, Pope John Paul II, Jean Chretien, Leonard Cohen and Gilbert Smythe Bite-Me, a television critic known for his misogyny.
- Don Ferguson: Bob Dylan, Lucien Bouchard, Bill Clinton, Preston Manning and just about any Canadian prime minister. He also plays Col. Stacy, who directs the firing of the Chicken Cannon.
- Luba Goy: Kim Campbell, Queen Elizabeth II and Sheila Copps.
- John Morgan: Jock McBile, the perpetually disgusted Scotsman; Mike from Canmore, the monosyllabic redneck; and the Prophet on the Mount, as well as Boris Yeltsin.
The show continues to this day on its 12th season, only without Mr. Morgan, who passed away on Nov. 15, 2004, and with the addition of Jessica Holmes, Craig Lauzon and Alan Park.