Garet's Reviews > Rick Mercer Report: The Book

Rick Mercer Report by Rick  Mercer
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's review
Mar 02, 2012

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bookshelves: humour-satire-parody
Read on January 07, 2012

Newfoundland comedian Rick Mercer first popularized his short, pithy "rants" on the idiocies of Canadian politics on the ensemble show This Hour Has 22 Minutes and made them the centrepiece of his own half-hour news parody, The Rick Mercer Report. This book gathers together some of his most incisive rants from RMR, along with a sprinkling of camera stills and transcribed dialogue of memorable moments with the Canadian "celebrities" brave enough to accept the invitation to appear on his show.

The rants cover the years from early 2004 – just after Paul Martin's ascension to the Liberal throne – to the spring of 2008 when Steven Harper's minority Conservative government readied itself for another election and liberal-minded Canadians began to develop a serious case of Obama-envy. I'd forgotten just how depressing it was to watch a scandal-plagued Paul Martin earn himself the sobriquet Mr. Dithers from The Economist and make a hash of his election campaign, and and how frustrated it made me to watch the gradual rise to power of Steven Harper's Conservatives. It's a credit to Mercer that he made me laugh even as he brought those dreary days back to mind.

Unfortunately, anyone who isn't Canadian – and a fair number of people who actually are – wouldn't be likely to get a lot of laughs out of this book, even if it wasn't four years out of date. Many of the punchlines require a knowledge of Canadian politics or history beyond what is explained in the lead up and I definitely had to dig deep in my memory to remember some of the details. But if you have the requisite background knowledge, Mercer is hilarious, with a knack for hitting the nail squarely on the head.

And for some, the camera stills and quotes might be worth the price of admission. I deeply regret that I missed the episode that saw Margaret Atwood don a pair of skates and a Montreal Canadiens goalie uniform to discuss players who try to "deke" the goalie. The guffaw-inducing photograph provided an entirely new perspective on Canada's first lady of belles lettres.

I've always been amazed at what Mercer can talk his guests into doing – and vice versa. He has parachuted out of an airplane with Canadian Army commander Rick Hillier, skinny-dipped with former NDP premier and current Liberal party leader Bob Rae, and had a sleepover at 24 Sussex Drive, the home of Canada's Conservative prime minister Steven Harper. And, more often than not, Mercer and his audience are laughing with his guests, not at them.

And while Mercer loves to poke fun at our Canadian politicians, he isn't above poking fun at Canadians themselves. After eight years of George Bush, some of us had become more than a little smug. But in the spring of 2008, as the primaries heated up in the US and Canadians prepared to go to the polls for the second time in as many years, Mercer deftly punctured our inflated sense of superiority:

We Canadians think of ourselves as part of this progressive, diverse nation and yet who's running for the top job in big, bad, backwards America? A woman, a black man, a Libertarian, a Mormon with big hair, and some dude who was in a bamboo cage in Vietnam for five and a half years. Meanwhile in Canada, we're gearing up for yet another race between a pudgy white guy and a skinny white guy and some other white guy.

I haven't had television for almost five years so I had no idea if The Rick Mercer Report was still on the air but according to the CBC web site, RMR recently celebrated its 150th episode. I'm glad to know that Mercer is still out there taking the piss out of Canadian politicians. He may not be as well known as David Sedaris, but in my opinion his talent is just as huge, maybe even more so. It's definitely as huge as Canada.

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