Air Farce's Craig Lauzon often the only indigenous comic in the room
This Dec. 31, he'll play Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Lauzon is an Ojibway actor and comedian living in Toronto. He has been a regular on the popular CBC-TV comedy show Air Farce since 2004, and has appeared on several of their New Year's Eve specials.
"I know that with a lot of my friends, the more they tease you, the more they love you." - Craig Lauzon describes First Nations humour
"I love to make fun. It all depends on how you do it and the tone," he said. "The person you are usually doing it to knows if you're having fun or not."
Fight to push boundaries
Although Lauzon brings that sense of humour and wit to his personal projects, he has yet to make that crossover to the Air Farce specials, where he is the only indigenous person on the show.
"We are a satire show. It's sketch comedy; it's political. There's not really a group in this country outside of politicians that are more political than we are," said Lauzon, referring to the indigenous community.
He thinks shows such as Air Farce should have more fun with the indigenous point of view on current affairs.
"I think a lot of it [the resistance] is fear of backlash," Lauzon said. He cited the NFL's Washington football team name as one example that is ripe for satire.
"I feel like there is always a way to poke fun of and make light of a situation if you handle it the right way. I think that is what our job is supposed to be on this kind of a show."
Lauzon referenced John Oliver, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert as other performers who take serious topics and shed light on them through the use of humour and satire.
Fight to end cancer
But Lauzon also has a serious side, he is currently training for a boxing match in June, as part of the Fight to End Cancer, which raises funds for cancer research.
"In 2012, I got to work with one of my heroes, August Schellenberg," Lauzon said, his voice shaking.
At 75, Schellenberg, who appeared in Grey's Anatomy, Dreamkeeper and Free Willy, had finally realized his lifelong dream of bringing an all-star indigenous cast to perform Shakespeare's King Lear at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.
Lauzon said Schellenberg, a Golden Gloves boxer in his youth, was still going to the gym every day while they performed King Lear.
I heard about this boxing event and wanted to do it in his name.- Craig Lauzon
Schellenberg had already battled a bout of cancer and performed the two-hour play, in which he faced some very physical demands, with just one lung.
Schellenberg died the following year after a recurrence of lung cancer.
Lauzon's has turned down work in order to take part in the Fight to End Cancer — and turning down work is no easy task for a Canadian actor. Neither will it be easy to climb into that ring on June 4 in Toronto.
"It's going to be for Auggie," Lauzon said quietly.