Ever since the early 1990s, when he entered the national consciousness with a series of one-man stage shows and his role on This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Rick Mercer has been delighting Canadians with his quick wit, playful demeanour, and bitingly satirical take on the Canadian political system.
Mercer might just be the closest thing we have to a truly homegrown celebrity: someone who is known and beloved by millions of Canadians from coast to coast to coast, but who has never sought fame elsewhere, and is relatively unknown outside of the country. His program, CBC Television’s Rick Mercer Report—for which he has improbable adventures, meets remarkable and eccentric characters, pokes fun at the politics of the day, and delivers his trademark rants—is now in its eleventh season. It regularly draws more than a million viewers an episode. In fact, the Report is consistently the most-watched Canadian comedic series on television.
With a level of earnestness that is almost hard to reconcile with his default wit and irreverence, Mercer genuinely wants Canadians to be more actively engaged with the politics of our land. But as one might expect, his life contains no shortage of outlandish anecdotes—including the fact that while he was the student council president of his Newfoundland high school, he never graduated with his diploma.
In our interview, Mercer sheds light on his formative years: growing up near St. John’s, the development of his interest in politics, his thoughts on the role of satire in a democracy, and why he considers the Conservative government’s current crackdown on science so pernicious.
Originally posted at broadcastingcanada.com. Edited for republication.
Kevin Caners hosts The Public, a weekly radio interview show for CIUT at the University of Toronto. Learn more about Broadcasting Canada, his series celebrating CBC voices and personalities, at broadcastingcanada.com.