Reflects on his life and his very Canadian career
IN HIS NEW MEMOIR, TALKING TO CANADIANS, RICK Mercer turns the spotlight back on himself and reflects on his life and his long and successful career. In the no-holdsbarred memoir, the beloved comedian tells his own story for the first time with riveting stories from his childhood, his days as an aspiring actor, his big break and the heights of TV fame. Mercer recently sat down with publisher Salah Bachir to take a trip down memory lane and discuss his best-selling memoir, as well as some of the hilarious stories inside. Salah: Rick, I loved the book. I could not stop reading it. It’s so funny and touching. Most people during a pandemic wondered how to survive and you go and write a 300- page memoir? Rick: Yes! I wrote it at a cabin in Newfoundland. It was the straightest gig that I’ve ever had. Every morning it was like clockwork: I went into the shed at 8:30/9:00 am and clocked in, opened the window, sat down, looked out at the ocean and worked on the memoir. Salah: Incredible. And it’s only the first part, right? Rick: Yes, the current book stops just as The Rick Mercer Report is beginning. And that wasn’t intentional. When I sat down to write the book I actually googled “how to write a memoir” because I had never written a memoir before. It said don’t start at the beginning. It’s not chronological, so just pop all over the place and I couldn’t get started by popping all over the place! So, I started right at the beginning and I just continued to write chronologically until eventually my editor said stop now. That’s the book. Salah: The book is a touching tribute to people you have worked with for a long time. Rick: One of the things that I realized while I was working on this is how few people I’ve worked with! And I don’t mean that in a bad way. I just mean, the same person directed all episodes of 22 Minutes and then directed all of the episodes of The Rick Mercer Report. I’ve had 2 cameramen in my life. For the first half of my career it was Pete Sutherland and for the second half it was Don Spence. Al McLain edited everything of any consequence I’ve ever done. It’s a very small group but it’s why I think I’ve been successful, because once I find someone that I get along with and I like working with that relationship continues and I think that’s pretty rare in show business. Salah: And you’ve had all these different offers. I thought that you’d be perfect as a host of Jeopardy! I don’t think that ship has sailed totally yet. Rick: That’s very kind of you. Salah: Honestly! I think that would be great to have a funny host. You had an offer to host Weakest Link and move to the US but your love of Canada kept you here. Rick: Well, I’ve been really lucky that I’ve managed to continue working here! And I certainly don’t begrudge anyone who’s ever gone to the States because it’s the largest English-language market in entertainment on the planet. So of course people gravitate towards there. I’ve just been fortunate that I didn’t have to and I think a lot of Canadian entertainers who’ve been very successful in the States, they’ll say, well, they didn’t have the opportunity to stay at home. So I was just fortunate. I was in the right place at the right time, and I think my interests in politics and comedy and marrying the two, there was an appetite and an audience for that. So I lucked out and didn’t have to host The Weakest Link, although, the pay was very good. Salah: You have been together with your husband [Gerald Lunz] for over 30 years. Rick: Yep, yep. Which is a lot. I know. How does it happen? Which is another weird thing about writing a book. I think I’m 18 or 20 in my head but of course I’m not. I’m 52. But you know, if you’re always looking forward, you’re not really reflecting. It’s easy to think that you’re still 18 or 20 or 25 but when you really get down to it and you start looking into your past and calling people up and reconnecting, you realize, wow, there’s actually a lot of water under the bridge. I wanted to concentrate on funny stories because of the pandemic. I felt that people probably need a book that’s funny at this time and one of the things that I realized is that I’ve had a lot of fun in my life. And I’m really grateful for that. I always knew I was lucky but now I’m incredibly grateful. Salah: And with the state of the world as it is and everything going on, I think that’s such an important healing, loving message to send out. Rick: Well it certainly doesn’t hurt. I realized, too, that I’m so fortunate in the pandemic that I had something to do, which is write this book and, you know, I had a house that I enjoy being in. All I could think of was here in Toronto, especially, there are so many people on the seventh floor of a building and there’s a pandemic and they’re kind of freaked out about elevators. They have no spouse or two children and it just goes on and on. There’s a lot of people who had it really tough and I’m really impressed by how well Canada has responded to this situation. Salah: Maybe your next book should be Talking To Americans. Rick: We actually got a transcription of the whole Talking to Americans special when we were preparing this because there’s a couple chapters in the book on it. I couldn’t believe how well the whole transcript read, there’s a lot of funny in that Talking to Americans. Salah: Have your parents read the book? Rick: No and, in fact, about three or four weeks ago I was home and my sister was there and she asked, “do you have a copy of the book?” and I was like, “no I don’t” and there was one in my briefcase in the front pocket! I thought, no, because I will put that off and then they’ll all read it and I’ll deal with that when it happens. Not that there’s anything untoward, but there’s a story I happened to mention to my brother. Oh, I put the story of us cutting the tree off the Queen’s land in there and he’s like, you didn’t put that in there! I don’t want that in there! And I was like, why? And he’s like, because, you know, it’s an act of vandalism! And I’m like, we were nine! But you just never know how people are going to react. I actually had to call up. I had to call a lady on the phone and admit to her that 40 odd years ago it was me who cut the tree off her lawn as a Christmas tree. And I was like, I’ve thought of confessing many times over the years because she lives down the street but I never did but now I had to because the book is coming out. Salah: What did she say? Did she say, what tree? Rick: Oh no, no. I know for a fact that they remember. Over the years, every now and then it would come up. “Can you believe someone cut a tree off our lawn?” So I know it was fresh. Salah: I think I have found the perfect present. Would you mind signing a few hundred for me? Rick: Sure. It’s great to see you and I’m glad you enjoyed it. I hope it brought you laughs. RICK MERCER’S NEW MEMOIR, TALKING TO CANADIANS, IS AVAILABLE NOW AT BOOKSTORES ACROSS THE COUNTRY.