CBC Program Guide

Roger Abbott

Roger Abbott

Roger Abbott is featured in the following program(s):

Roger Abbott passed away on March 26, 2011 after a 14-year battle with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. He was a man of many talents with a wonderful sense of humour. Roger received many awards including the Gemini Humanitarian Award, the Governor General's Performing Arts Award, 15 ACTRA awards, a JUNO and a star on Canada's Walk of Fame.

Roger will be dearly missed.

Birth place: Birkenhead, England

Roger began his broadcasting career off-the-air in programming and management at a number of radio stations, before accidentally stumbling into comedy and helping found Air Farce in 1973. Apart from Air Farce, Roger tried his hand at hosting various radio and television shows, but given the choice he preferred to spend his time reading mystery novels on a beach in Italy within walking distance of a vineyard and a bakery. Among his favourite Air Farce characters were Jean Chrétien, Peter Mansbridge, Leonard Cohen and the misogynist TV critic Gilbert Smythe Bite-Me. Roger produced the television series with Don Ferguson.

Reason for becoming a performer:

John Morgan and Martin Bronstein wanted to start an improv comedy group and didn't want actors. They wanted people who could write and act out their own material. They thought writing was more important than acting, and wanted people who were willing to make fools of themselves in public.

Favourite Air Farce sketch:

Any sketch that has good laughs and gives us something to think about.

Biggest challenge on Air Farce: Keeping it funny and fresh, and not taking it too seriously.

Highlight of working on Air Farce: When we performed at the '88 Olympics in Calgary the night after the Battle of the Brians (Skaters Brian Orser and Brian Boitano) and Brian Orser was our surprise guest. The audience went wild.

Who makes you laugh?

The Larry Sanders Show, Frasier, Red Green, and Made in Canada! Monty Python reruns and some Bob and Ray albums.

Your attitude towards being politically correct:

Political satire is supposed to be politically incorrect -- that's the point! It's a nuisance that provokes us into being more thoughtful and inventive. At least it ended the era of "Take my wife, please" jokes. It nudged everyone to a different level of comedy. Even if a joke is politically incorrect, if a joke is really funny, the audience won't filter the laughs. They may feel guilty about it later, but they'll laugh.

Who was the major influence on your career as a producer?

Some of the Radio Execs I worked for in my early years in Montreal. Don Wall had values like "Do it right the first time, 'cause you may not get a second chance" and "Stride through the corridor, don't stroll" and "If you expect the best from people, chances are you'll get it."

Who was the major influence on your career as a performer?

Watching the Monty Python group, and working with Dave Broadfoot.

What did you want to be when you were in school?

"Ad Man," which was a big thing then, or a lawyer.

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