Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein, Kim Jong-un — how do you end a year full of deplorable news headlines?
With several New Year's Eve comedy specials, of course.
The Royal Canadian Air Farce celebrates 25 years on television Sunday night with its annual "Air Farce New Year's Eve Special" on CBC.
"The world is a mess," says founding Farcer and executive producer Don Ferguson.
"There's North Korea, there's Trump, there's the sexual predators — the story that keeps on giving."
He credits main writer-producers Kevin Wallis and Wayne Testori for doing a great job "navigating the shoals in this current environment."
"It was a very tricky year," agrees Wallis. "We all want to laugh at the end of it, but how do you get there?"
Rule No. 1, says Wallis, is never make fun of the victims.
"We focus on the people who really deserve having the F-Bomb dropped on them," he says, referring to the messy machine that splatters gooey bombs over photos of targets at the end of the specials.
"We could have had many more targets this year, but they just wouldn't all fit into the studio."
Joining the eight-member cast this time is Lisa Gilroy. A former member of the Toronto-based comedy troupe the Sketchersons, the Edmonton native was thrilled to join the Farce.
"They treated me like I had been there for the full 25 years," says Gilroy. "You would think I was there because I had won some sort of charity lottery. It's a real little family there."
Wallis says it was no lottery win. He scouted Gilroy at Toronto's Comedy Bar and says she aced her Farce audition.
"She had a character she did on her demo reel, a ridiculously upbeat motivational speaker," says Wallis. "We moved the character directly into a sketch we wrote about the shutdown at Sears Canada."
Gilroy says Air Farce, which actually goes back 44 years on CBC Radio, seemed like it was "always playing in the background" as she was growing up in Alberta.
"It was surreal to join the cast and especially so meeting Luba Goy," says Gilroy of the troupe's other founding member. "She was so kind to me; just meeting her was like meeting a movie star."
Gilroy was added after Emma Hunter, who joined the Air Farce in 2015, became unavailable. New mom Hunter is now firmly entrenched as co-anchor on The Comedy Network's "The Beaverton." That series will close the year with "The Beaverton's Year in Review: 2017, The Year That Sadly Was," which airs on New Year's Eve on CTV.
Also airing on CBC on Sunday will be the latest New Year's Eve stand-up special from comedian Ron James: "The High Road."
"This is nine for me," says James of his annual year-end specials, this one taped in Guelph, Ont. The Nova Scotia native remains ever-busy criss-crossing Canada on comedy road tours.
Yes, "The High Road" is a reference to the fact that legalization of marijuana is coming to Canada in 2018. However, James doesn't want viewers to think "it's a 60-year-old's stoner show."
He's also referring to the high road Canada is on "as America seems to go squirrelly." He refers to President Trump, for example, as "that Kraft Dinner-coated basketball of a noggin."
James also takes aim at the Weinstein story and other dishonourable headlines but is also keenly aware that, on New Year's Eve, he's performing to a party audience that is mainly simply looking for laughs.
"That's the challenge with these shows," he says. "You have to take broad strokes on these events that have affected us."
— Bill Brioux is a freelance TV columnist based in Brampton, Ont.
Bill Brioux, The Canadian Press