Tag Archives: Air Farce

APTN’s Guilt Free Zone returns for raucous laughs and rockin’ talent

Guilt Free Zone‘s tagline is “This Show is Ridiculous.” That’s true, but it’s also hilarious, educational and truly unique.

Returning for its third season this Wednesday at 10:30 p.m. ET on APTN, Guilt Free Zone (GFZ) is something I’ve never seen in Canadian primetime. It’s a sketch comedy, variety and musical series that showcases solely Indigenous musicians and talent every week while delivering a humorous take on colonization.

“I remember sitting around, thinking about doing a variety show,” GFZ co-creator, co-executive producer, star and Juno-winning singer-songwriter Derek Miller recalls of his initial idea for a program. “It’s grown a personality and a full vibe since then. It’s been an evolution to see how it goes from an original intellectual property idea to actually stuff happening.”

You can’t talk about GFZ without mentioning its past. Season 1 of the variety program had more of a traditional late-night talk show look, with Miller behind a desk, interviewing Indigenous guests from all walks of life, interspersed with moments of sketch comedy and showcasing a musical guest. Then, in 2015, after watching two episodes of the program, the federal government revoked the program’s tax credit, citing GFZ was a talk show and therefore exempt from receiving money. That forced Laura J, Milliken, the series’ co-creator, executive producer, writer and president and CEO of Big Soul Productions, to do some major scrambling. The result? What GFZ is today. I think the show is better for it, and Milliken agrees.

“That prompted a huge wave of creativity and it was actually a really good thing,” Milliken, the co-executive producer of the Gemini-nominated Moccasin Flats, says. “I kind of paced around my house for like, a month, trying to figure out how we could make it the Guilt Free Zone and keep all these wonderful performances but also give it that comedic feel and also say the things we wanted to say.” To tune into GFZ is to visit a legal speakeasy that Derek has won in a poker game. Derek has no clue how to run a bar and relies on the staff of oddballs who he inherited along with the bar to help him. Those include multiple characters played by Amy Matysio (Save Me), Herbie Barnes (Tipi Tales), Darrell Dennis (Blackstone), Camille Stopps (Killjoys), Craig Lauzon (Royal Canadian Air Farce) and Michaela Washburn (The Thaw).

Those wacky characters—and a writing staff that includes Milliken, Katya Gardiner and Dennis—enables to show to go off in wild, hilarious directions. One upcoming Season 3 instalment, “Dick Trouble,” sees the GFZ crew reminiscing about life pre-cell phone, plunging Derek into a film noir sequence while another, “Whack and Roll,” features puppies and an 80s dance off. There is also an acknowledgement of the taking of sovereign Indigenous lands through the lens of comedy.

“We do make commentary in the comedy about who we are and that we’re still here and we have a sense of humour,” Milliken says. “We make political jabs, social jabs and stereotypical jabs. We fight against the stereotypes that are cast upon us, but really the Guilt Free Zone is a place that’s ours and a place that we have to work together on to preserve and make ours.”

The other half of GFZ‘s weekly episodes are the stellar musical performances. An exclusively Indigenous list of performers—in addition to Miller—takes to the stage this season, including Lee Harvey Osmond, Leela Gilday, DJ Shub, Vern Cheechoo, David R. Maracle, Lacey Hill and Arthur Renwick, introducing viewers to an extensive set of bands, performers and singer-songwriters to take note of.

“In my mind, the performances are so beautiful,” Milliken says. “We’re really trying to show these people in the best way possible. “We’re here. We’re here to stay. We have talent and we have laughter.”

Guilt Free Zone airs Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m. ET on APTN.

Images courtesy of Big Soul Productions.

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Link: Looking back at 25 years of Air Farce on TV

From Artsculture:

Link: Looking back at 25 years of Air Farce on TV
But we all — and that includes Luba and I — get excited and nervous before stepping in front of a live audience in December when, for two nights in studio, when the CBC Broadcast Centre is packed with fans and we record the majority of the show.

The butterflies are definitely one thing that haven’t changed in 25 years. Continue reading.

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Link: “Air Farce” spoofs Canada in honour of 150th

From Bill Brioux of The Canadian Press:

Link: “Air Farce” spoofs Canada in honour of 150th
“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. Continue reading.

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What’s more Canadian than Air Farce, eh? Celebrated comedy troupe fetes Canada’s 150th, July 1 on CBC

From a media release:

Making Canadians laugh for over four decades, AIR FARCE pulls out all the stops for the country’s 150th birthday, capturing the patriotic spirit of the sesquicentennial celebrations in 60 funny, fast-paced minutes. For its first-ever summer special, and for the first time in AIR FARCE history, the whole country will come together to watch at the exact same time — no delays and no time shifting. AIR FARCE CANADA 150 premieres Saturday, July 1, 2017, at 8:00 PM ET/5:00 PM PT on CBC with an encore broadcast on Monday, July 3 at 8:00 PM (8:30 PM NT).

AIR FARCE CANADA 150 embraces what it means to be Canadian, satirizing Canada’s past, present and future. Flashing back through history, the special focuses on the people and events that shaped our nation, including the Vikings landing in Newfoundland, the first hockey game, cottage life with Justin and Sophie Trudeau, and pop culture parodies like Canada: The Musical and an all-new take on the classic NFB animation Log Driver’s Waltz.

AIR FARCE CANADA 150 stars founding troupe members Don Ferguson and Luba Goy, and veterans Jessica Holmes (The Holmes Show, The Itch), Craig Lauzon (Fool Canada, The Ron James Show), Darryl Hinds (My Babysitter’s a Vampire, Little Mosque on the Prairie), and Emma Hunter (The Beaverton, Mr. D). Joining the troupe for the first time are Chris Wilson (from Vancouver’s award-winning sketch duo Peter n’ Chris, The Beaverton, What Would Sal Do, Meet the Family) and Toronto television and stage actress Isabel Kanaan (Haunted or Hoax). The special is directed by Rob Lindsay and Wayne Moss.

Special guest stars scheduled to appear include Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian astronaut to walk in space, Lorne Cardinal (Corner Gas, Into the Forest, Insomnia), Kaniehtiio Horn (What Would Sal Do, Letterkenny, Hemlock Grove), Hélène Joy (Murdoch Mysteries, Heartland, Durham County), Eric Peterson (Corner Gas, This is Wonderland, Street Legal) and Ed Robertson (Barenaked Ladies).

A fan favourite, AIR FARCE is one of Canada’s longest-running television comedies and highest-rated entertainment specials. A total audience of over 2.1 million Canadians watched AIR FARCE NEW YEAR’S EVE last year on CBC. (Source: Numeris TV Meter, Dec. 30, 2016 – Jan. 1, 2017 and Jan. 3, 2017, CBC Total, A2+, Total Canada, AMA, generated by InfoSys+TV).

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