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Canadian comedian and actor Dave Broadfoot, known to older generations of Canadians from his many years with the Royal Canadian Air Farce, passed away on November 1, 2016 at the age of 90.

Dave Broadfoot was known for his stable of classic Canadian characters including Corporal (later Sgt.) Renfrew of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, as the member of Parliament for Kicking Horse Pass (and leader of the 'New Apathetic Party'), and as the addled hockey player Big Bobby Clobber.

Dave's lampooning was gentle and his target generally adored him. Hockey players loved Big Bobby, Prime Minsters and party leaders enjoyed his impressions of them. The RCMP even gave Corporal Renfrew an official promotion when he performed for them, presenting him with Sergeant's stripes.

Royal Canadian Air Farce was family viewing when I was in my teens, the sort of safe, genteel comedy that my parents would watch before the kids went to bed. I mostly remember Dave as Big Bobby Clobber, a character that was more accessible to me than some of the others. Big Bobby was depicted as a grinder, a spare part on the team, but one who would genially pause for an interview with the sports reporter, known logically enough as Big Jim. The shtick was that Big Bobby had taken 'too many pucks to the head' which left him perpetually dazed, and thus prone to saying what passed for amusing things...but occasionally slipping in a sharper zinger. In hindsight, Big Bobby was quite clearly a victim of repeated concussions. I suspect a montage of Big Bobby Clobber skits would challenge assertions that our understanding of the traumatic effects of high-speed pro sports on the brain only developed recently.

Big Jim: "Do you think hockey players should be made to wear helmets at all times?"

Big Bobby: "No way. Only durin' the game."

I recall Dave as having had a broad 'stage actor' delivery of physical comedy, overselling the sly look for a beat or two longer than a modern comic would, perhaps a vestige of his many years as a stage comic.

Farewell to gentleman comic and true Canadian icon, Dave Broadfoot.

American politicians can be bought. You can't buy a Canadian politician. You rent them.
-- Dave Broadfoot


All quotations drawn from Dave's speech to the Empire Club in 1978, recorded here.

Noded in honour of Dave, and for IN9.

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