ready to laugh!" "Stand by to laugh!" "This
is funny - so laugh!" If you have ever been to a live taping
of Royal Canadian Air Farce, chances are you have heard these words
echoing through our CBC studio in downtown Toronto. But who is the
maestro behind these fine words of wisdom? Who is this man who frightens
everyone into great gales of laughter, yet refuses to even crack
a smile himself? To those who know him, he's simply known as Pat.
To those who don't, it's Mr. McDonald. Regardless of how he is addressed,
you can't miss Air Farce's Stage Manager Pat McDonald, nor would
you want to.
you've haven't had the chance to see Air Farce live, don't feel
left out. We guarantee you've seen Pat before. He has quickly become
known as the fifth Farceur, after making more than a dozen cameo
appearances on the show. If you're not sure which one is Pat, here's
a hint. Look for the guy who never smiles, and chances are you've
over six feet tall (six-one with headphones), Pat prowls around
the studio floor, clenching his square jaw, looking like a well-toned
linebacker seeking his next victim. In actuality, Pat acts as the
eyes and ears for Director Perry Rosemond,
who calls the shots from the control room over 100 metres away.
It is Pat's responsibility to ensure everybody and everything is
exactly where the director wants it. Among his many duties, Pat
is responsible for coordinating all the sets and decorations, props,
lighting, audio, hair, make-up, wardrobe and cast members, so that
they all come together in unison, giving the show its polished look
week after week. So please excuse Pat if his menacing demeanor frightens
you a bit - he just has a lot on his mind.
McDonald started his illustrious television career in 1965 at the
popular radio and television station CKLW, located in his home town
of Windsor, Ontario. Starting in the mailroom and then becoming
an assistant film editor, Pat landed his first Studio Managing job
within the year. Overlooking the daily operations of news, sports
and variety programming, Pat got his first big break in 1966 when
he was in charge of the live studio children's show, "Bozo's
Big Top". There wasn't a child with a television set who didn't
watch Bozo the Clown, and Pat says he felt honoured to be part of
this historical program.
to many, the late 1960's was a time of Rock & Roll and Motown
music, and Pat was no exception. CKLW, owned by RKO General, boasted
the third highest radio ratings in the United States - not bad for
a Canadian operated station. Most of the "new" sounds
were coming from, or through, Detroit (located across the Detroit
river from Windsor), so it only seemed natural that CKLW-TV should
take advantage of its own resources. In the late 1960's, CKLW started
their long running musical series, "Robin Seymour's Swingin'
Time". Between 4 and 5 p.m. every weekday, Robin Seymour (a
popular radio DJ) hosted the live dance and music show from the
Windsor studios. Pat was responsible for overseeing the daily operations
of the live studio set, which included a full house of dancing teens.
Every day live bands such as The Four Tops, The Four Seasons, Three
Dog Night, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Frank Zappa and even a baby-faced
Ted Nugent rocked the studio walls. "You name a band and chances
are they performed on Swingin' Time," Pat reminisces with a
smile. (Yes, that's right, a smile!) "I loved that time. I
was able to witness the beginnings of superstars, like The Supremes.
They were just little teen-age kids promoting their songs and hardly
anyone knew them. Now they're all considered classics."