TORONTO – Chris Hadfield has seen all of Canada — from coast to coast — in ten minutes.
Orbiting from the International Space Station, the retired astronaut could marvel at the vastness of the Arctic as well as landmarks such as the Trans-Canada Highway.
What you can’t see from space, Hadfield agrees, are politicians. What you can see, however, is the importance of perspective.
“To have seen Canada the way that I’ve seen it really highlights to me the necessity to find a way to communicate and understand it,” he says. “Our artists have a very important role in expressing our problems and our successes to us. It’s another delightful reason to be on a show like ‘Air Farce.'”
Hadfield joins Lorne Cardinal, Eric Peterson (both of “Corner Gas”) and Helene Joy (“Murdoch Mysteries”) among the guest stars for Saturday night’s “Air Farce Canada 150” on CBC. The hour-long comedy salute to Canada’s sesquicentennial also repeats on July 3.
“We’re trying to make it a totally different flavour from the New Year’s show,” says Royal Canadian Air Farce founding member Don Ferguson. After consistently delivering top-rated year-end specials since the “Air Farce” series ended in 2008, Ferguson has been lobbying hard for a second annual showcase.
The special will include the Trudeaus (played by Craig Lauzon and Jessica Holmes) at the cottage, as well as sketches goofing on Canada’s past. The Vikings’ landing, the origins of hockey, and Alexander Graham Bell all come in for some ribbing.
The cast has swelled to a record eight members. There were fears it could have been nine had a very pregnant Emma Hunter (also seen on “The Beaverton”) given birth during one of the two studio-taping days.
Ferguson, fellow founding member Luba Goy, Lauzon, Holmes and Hunter are joined again by Second City alumnus Darryl Hinds. Two new cast members — Chris Wilson and Isabel Kanaan — have been added.
“Luba and I, we’re senior citizens now,” says Ferguson. “It’s time to let some new kids in.”
Wilson says it was “surreal” joining the “Air Farce” team after growing up watching the troupe’s annual New Year’s Eve comedy specials.
“There are only so many things I’ve been able to tell my parents about what I do where they go, ‘Whoa! That’s a big one!'”
Wilson worked hardest on a “La La Land” sketch re-imagining the movie with a Canadian twist.
The sketch is one of several “Farce Films” included in the hour.
“The director (Rob Lindsay) wanted to film it all in one take,” says Wilson. “We just had to nail it.”
A native of the Philippines, Kanaan goes by “Izzy.” The Second City graduate impressed “Farce” producers Kevin Wallis and Mark Selby during auditions.
She gets to play “Anne of Red Gables” in the Canada 150 special.
“I really got in Luba’s face,” she says. “My goal was to try and make her crack up. It never worked!”
Hadfield did crack up, and sees “Air Farce” as a way of unifying people spread over a vast part of the planet.
“It’s a funny, self-mocking version of (CBC Radio’s) ‘Cross Country Checkup’ that we really need.”
— Bill Brioux is a freelance TV columnist based in Brampton, Ont.