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ROGER ABBOTT

Roger

Birth place: Birkenhead, England
Birthday:
July 10
Star Sign:
Cancer
Lived in:
England, Montreal, Toronto (born in Britain and educated in Montreal)

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 has tried his hand at hosting various radio and television shows, but given the choice he would prefer 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 are Jean Chretien, Peter Mansbridge, Leonard Cohen, and the misogynist TV critic Gilbert Smythe Bite-Me. With Don Ferguson, he produces the television series.

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 characters
It changes from week to week. I like (Don as) Larry King, (Luba as) Bingo Lady, and (John as) Mike from Canmore. I like doing Peter Mansbridge and the Pope.

Favourite Air Farce sketches
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
I'm so easy to please... every time a theatre is sold out, or a new joke gets an incredible roar, or our ratings climb higher, I'm happy. It was also a highlight 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?
I miss The Larry Sanders Show. Frasier is good. I like Red Green, and Made in Canada! There's good laughs to be had there. I can still watch Monty Python reruns and laugh, 27 years later. I laugh when I hear some Bob and Ray albums.

Your attitude towards being politically correct
Political satire is supposed to be politically incorrect--that's the point! I think 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?
I probably thought "Ad Man", which was a big thing then, or a lawyer.