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STAND BY TO LAUGH
by Rob Lindsay

Pat McDonald gets ready to cue the performers during a studio taping. Pat is the eyes and ears on the studio floor of the director, Perry Rosemond.

It was also on this show that Pat was introduced to John Peterson, a director that helped shape his career. "John and I loved live TV. What you laid down is what you got," says Pat. "Working with those talented kids and such an excellent director every day was such a kick to me. I'll never forget those times." Another influential director early in Pat's career was Terry McDonald. "Terry saw TV the same way John did. To all three of us, broadcasting live is the only way to go. It's a shame that the young people in television today will never experience the rush we got from working on a live show."

Flash forward twenty years. It is now 1991. CKLW has become CBET, a CBC-owned and operated television station. Pat McDonald, who after twenty-five years of working in Windsor on hundreds of shows, decided it was time to test the waters of the Mother Corporation in Toronto.

Upon arrival in the Big City, Pat quickly put his veteran years of variety programming to the test. He started studio directing such prestigious shows as "The Journal", "Mid-Day", "Friday Night with Ralph Benmurgi" and "Kids in the Hall". It was on "Kids" that Pat got his first taste of big scale sketch comedy. After years of music, news and sports, he found a new challenge with comedy in front of live studio audiences. "I love doing any type of this medium. But the sketch comedy format at this level was so foreign to me, I enjoyed the whole process," recalls Pat. Then in 1992, CBC decided to give Royal Canadian Air Farce a chance at TV. And thus a legend was born.

"Pat was great for us," says Farceur Don Ferguson. "We knew radio. He knew TV. So he played the Big Brother role, which was perfect since he was so much bigger than the rest of us." But Roger Abbott, a co-producer with Don, adds, "Our only complaint with Pat was that he was so intimidating. Before we rolled the cameras, he would say 'Quiet please. We're rolling!' in his deadpan serious tone. There is nothing worse to a comedy troupe than playing in front of an audience too afraid to laugh." So to combat his approach, Pat decided to tell people what was funny and when to laugh. "I just substituted 'Quiet please' with 'Stand by'. Then one day I slipped in 'Stand by to laugh'". It was the perfect combination. The big bully telling everyone to laugh - and they did. So much so that to this day he can say his famous line five or six times a night, and people always crack up. Even the cast. "We try and make him laugh," giggles Luba Goy, "or even smile. But no one has succeeded yet. We'll get him one day though."


 

Marty McSorley
Aired: Oct 06, 2000

Marty McSorley's court case swings in to action...

Once again, Pat 'takes one on the head' for the good of the show.