A man with no plan

Cana­dian co­me­dian has some ideas but pol­i­tics not in Mercer’s fu­ture

St. Thomas Times-Journal - - ENTERTAINMENT - VIC­TO­RIA AHEARN Satirist Rick Mercer re­hearses one of his trade­mark Rants in Toronto in 2006.

TORONTO — Po­lit­i­cal satirist Rick Mercer has a new book and “a bunch” of projects in the works, but a run for of­fice doesn’t seem likely.

“I’m less in­ter­ested in pol­i­tics now than I ever have been in my en­tire life,” the St. John’s na­tive, who lives in Toronto, said in an in­ter­view for the newly pub­lished book Rick Mercer Fi­nal Re­port.

“I used to think about it, but I think if you’re an arm­chair ex­pert in base­ball or hockey, you al­ways think, ‘Well, what if they called me up and asked me to be the gen­eral man­ager?’ ”

The Cana­dian co­me­dian was often asked about his po­lit­i­cal as­pi­ra­tions through­out his ca­reer on the weekly CBC satir­i­cal news series Rick Mercer Re­port, which ended its 15-sea­son run last April af­ter he de­cided it was sim­ply the right time. Now that the self-de­scribed po­lit­i­cal junkie has the time to de­vote to such con­sid­er­a­tions, it seems his mind is on other things than what’s de­fined him for so many years.

“For the first time in my life, I don’t have an im­me­di­ate plan,” said Mercer, who co-cre­ated and was pre­vi­ously a res­i­dent per­former on CBC’s This Hour Has 22 Min­utes.

“Now I can con­sider do­ing things that I couldn’t have con­sid­ered be­fore. Just the other day I said, ‘Maybe I’ll write a play again.’ It’s been 25 years since I said that out loud, so who knows.”

Or maybe that 2014 script he helped work on for a po­ten­tial re­make of Nor­man Jewi­son’s The Rus­sians Are Com­ing, the Rus­sians Are Com­ing, which never came to fruition, will resur­face.

The script is among the rev­e­la­tions in Rick Mercer Fi­nal Re­port, which in­cludes com­i­cal and touch­ing es­says on his life and ca­reer, as well as a slew of the sig­na­ture rants he de­liv­ered from a graf­fiti-dec­o­rated al­ley on his CBC show.

“I’ve had my hand in many, many, many (scripts) over the years. That one didn’t get pro­duced, un­for­tu­nately,” said Mercer, who writes in the book about his friend­ship with Jewi­son and his ad­mi­ra­tion for the film­maker.

“But I didn’t care. Head­ing into it, I knew it was prob­a­bly a long­shot. But as I men­tion in the book, I would have done any­thing to hang out with Nor­man Jewi­son.”

Jewi­son is one of many celebri­ties Mercer bonded with through his show, which launched in 2004 and saw him em­bark on wild ad­ven­tures across Canada.

Mercer writes about a ter­ri­fy­ing in­ci­dent in a heli­copter with mu­si­cian pal Jann Ar­den, and how he got late au­thor Pierre Ber­ton to roll a joint on his show.

Then there was the time late Trag­i­cally Hip front­man Gord Downie called him ask­ing how to cor­rectly pro­nounce the town of Isle aux Morts, N.L. Mercer gave Downie his dad’s num­ber in case he wanted to dou­ble-check. Downie did just that and they chat­ted for about an hour — all the while, Mercer’s dad had no idea who he was talk­ing to.

“It re­ally struck me as funny that dad was talk­ing to him for a long time and he just knew it was some guy named Gord,” Mercer said.

“When I told dad, ‘Dad, that was Gord Downie on the phone .... They were record­ing in Ber­muda. He’s, like, the big­gest rock star in Canada.’ Dad said, ‘Oh my God, he called from Ber­muda? I feel ter­ri­ble now, be­cause that’s long dis­tance.’ ”

Pol­i­tics, Tim Hor­tons wages, and day­light sav­ing time are among the other rant sub­jects fea­tured in the book.

With the news cy­cle chang­ing so quickly un­der U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, Mercer said he “can’t imag­ine” hav­ing to de­liver weekly on-air rants on cur­rent events, not­ing “it must be very hard to keep up.”

Pop cul­ture and U.S. pol­i­tics weren’t typ­i­cally cov­ered on the show, Mercer said.

“Ev­ery­one was talk­ing about Ri­hanna this week; I wasn’t. I was in Man­i­toba go­ing to the wheat fes­ti­val or what­ever. But it was a very, very Cana­dian show. Now oc­ca­sion­ally in­ter­na­tional sto­ries would suck the oxy­gen out of the room and you would have to ad­dress it.

“But with Trump, he sucks the oxy­gen out of ev­ery room, ev­ery day, no mat­ter what you’re cov­er­ing. You could be a show about base­ball and you have to talk about Trump. You could be a show about any­thing — it’s just all that peo­ple are talk­ing about.”

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