On April 10th 2018, The Rick Mercer Report aired its last episode.
We knew this was coming. Rick had done the farewell press tour stopping at q with Tom Power and The National. He picked up an Icon Award at the Canadian Screen Awards in March.
But it still feels wrong that the Rick Mercer Report won’t be on TV anymore.
The Rick Mercer Report has been on the air for the last fifteen years and before that, Rick was on This Hour has 22 Minutes.
I was born in 1991. This Hour has 22 Minutes started in 1992. With the exception of one year – Rick Mercer has been on the CBC my entire life. I have been watching him for as long as I can remember.
I was a political kid so I loved Rick. I remember watching the infamous Stockwell Doris Day segment.
I was obsessed with Talking to Americans. I have watched it hundreds of times over the years. It was exactly what Canadians needed.
Other kids got their laughs from The Simpsons. I would sit on the couch with my parents just giggling at Rick Mercer’s latest antics.
At 14, I was the kid that lined up to buy his book and meet him. My face is so red in this photo because I was just so excited to meet him.
So the fact that this was the last week of the Mercer Report… I’m really sad.
As Rick said in his opening, when the show started in 2004, Canada had 31 million people. Today it has 36 million. The country has changed over the last 15 years.
But Rick was a constant.
His last episode paid tribute to all the things we loved about him.
As much as it was the Rick Mercer Report, Rick had a great ability to deflect the spotlight to the people around him or as he said, “The real star has always been the landscape.”
His team put together some truly magical montages of the scope of his show.
The first was one dedicated to the country set to The Tragically Hip’s Poets. I almost rolled my eyes at how Canadian it was but I loved it too much to toss it. All of the provincial flags were shown, we saw the country from the air (so many airplanes), the land (so many trains and cars), and water (so many boats!). He really did visit the whole country.
He saw so many beautiful things and met so many interesting people.Rick was always willing to go the extra mile to make us smile. He jumped out of planes, was covered in bees and went bungy jumping.
As he got into a demolition derby-style car the guy leading him said, “I’ve seen you do some stupid things before and this is about as stupid as it gets.”
Beyond the crazy things, he did so many cool things. Climbed mountains, swam in lakes and skinny dipped with Bob Rae. He really showed that Canadians work hard, but play hard too. He treated window cleaners with the same respect as the politicians and celebrities he interviewed.
In that vein, he spent a lot of time acknowledging the hard work of emergency workers and he brought a lot of awareness to the Paralympics.
People everywhere loved him and everyone wanted to meet him.
This was another memorable, almost too Canadian moment:
Rick: How did you know I was going to be here? Kid: My mom found out at the liquor store.
He put that power of wanting to meet him into his Spread the Net campaign. Raise enough money and Rick would come visit you and your school. Since he started the charity Spread The Net has raised 2 million dollars helping stop the spread of Malaria. In 2008, the top fundraising school was Dalhousie. I loved the school-culture he showed so much that in 2009 I went Dal’s sister school King’s.
Beyond visiting towns, schools and festivals across the country, Rick’s skits were always a highlight of every episode.
Most of his skits made fun of the ads you’d see during his broadcast. Adds about stairlifts, step-in baths, and e-harmony. The Seven Day Forecast that they showed in the finale seems right after last weeks ice storm.
Yet throughout the skits and visits to different communities – the part that stands out will forever be the rants.
Before John Oliver and Jimmy Kimmel – Rick was delivering rants that would get people talking at the water cooler.
The iconic graffiti alley, the fast-talking/fast-walking, and his ability to hit the zeitgeist of the nation made the rants worth watching.
Each week he would give us a rant that was both poignant and funny. More often than not, he would hit the nail on the head and articulate exactly what the nation needed to hear.
We don’t have a lot of people doing comedic political commentary in this country and through his rants, Rick established himself as the best in the biz.
As a country, we are going to miss segments like these.
As a country, we are inundated with American news and culture. In the era of Donald Trump – we need relevant and timely Canadian content more than ever.
Rick Mercer will be missed. I’m hoping he goes away for a year or two and pops up again as the Canadian Graham Norton. A few monologue jokes plus some interviews with his celebrity friends could be exactly what Canada needs.
After all, we need people who can answer all the questions we had about Canada but were afraid to ask…