Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Book Review: Rick Mercer's "Talking To Canadians" - a Memoir

There’s always a first time. A first time to buy a memoir, and a first time to read one. And—a first time to actually review one.  My gosh, I haven’t done a book review in 10 years, let alone of one that wasn’t fiction. My pen name/nom de plume/fake online character “George Wolf” of the POD world (Print On Demand) was a self deprecating drunk who reveled in handing out D minuses to scores of vanity press authors who knew nothing of basic publishing rules, such as “don’t rely on self-editing”.  So, all these firsts culminate in the joy of handling a professionally written, edited, and published physical book—no Kindles here; I love flipping real pages. And this book’s a gem.

Rick Mercer’s memoir “Talking To Canadians” is an engaging read to say the least; as Canada’s court jester, his candour and humour shine through like nobody’s business... I lost count of the number of times he made me snort out loud, laugh hysterically, and yes—shed a few genuine tears.  In case you’ve been living under a rock, Rick Mercer is a writer/actor/producer/comedian from St. John’s Newfoundland that is best known for his stints on This Hour Has 22 Minutes, and The Rick Mercer Report. His other accomplishments are too many to list here, but include a whole shitload of political satire that even had the country’s leaders falling all over themselves to get on his shows.

As a typical Canadian he’s polite, so his put-downs are rare... unless of course you want to classify harpooning America’s lack of knowledge of Canadian politics and geography as insulting. The memoir itself is a generously respectful and intriguing account of his life from childhood to the end of his stint at The Rick Mercer Report.  He leaves no stone unturned when heaping love and gratitude on all the people that touched his life in the various stages that it took him to become the success he is today.  

The memoir picks up pace the more you get into it, as it lays the groundwork for understanding the amazing successes and milestones he accomplishes.  From performing 150 one-man shows touring across Canada, to snagging an interview with Jean Chretien at a Harvey’s, to putting together two separate shows overseas to entertain our Canadian troops in the middle east, his account of how he got all this done held me spellbound.  And had me laughing my pants off.  To paraphrase Mr. Mercer, if he had pinched himself for every amazing feat he pulled off, he’d be black and blue all over. (Sorry Rick, I’m too lazy to look up the exact quote.)

You can google him to list all his awards and accolades, and there are many (25 Geminis for example).  Yet his humility and down-to-earth way of relating to the reader leaves you feeling like you know each other.  He’s a national treasure, and an iconic personality in the entertainment business and beyond.  I felt privileged reading his memoir, but he wrote it as though we were sitting around a pot belly stove eating a bowl of seafood chowder.  The last chapter left me wanting more.  Another first for me...

So Rick, what’s next?


Jim Hutchison is a wannabe author and reviewer who resides in Fox Cove-Mortier, Newfoundland with his wife Moira and Pumpkin the cat.