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- Host of the Juno Awards at Copps Coliseum
VIEW Magazine - March 2, 2001
by Kerry Corrigan
Among his many other pursuits, Rick Mercer really likes hosting awards shows. He sees them as a celebration.
He’s done the East Coast Music Awards Show a number of times and hosted the 2000 Gemini Awards where Made in Canada was honoured with the award for Best Comedy Series. This Sunday he’ll host the Junos, a gig he did before, in 1995.
“Actually, it was one of the best nights I’ve ever had. I like doing award shows, and … I always like doing music awards shows more than anything. It’s always fun celebrating an industry that’s not your own. Everybody is very proud of the Canadian Music Industry and how we’ve produced so many international ambassadors for the country.”
Asked if he is a fan of Canadian music, Mercer replied with an enthusiastic, “Oh yeah!” but stopped short of revealing his preferences among the nominees.
“Course I know everyone who’s going to win, I have the list,” he teased me.
“You do?” I replied, my gullibility showing. “Get away.”
“No, I don’t,” he laughed. “I was just thinking for one second, that’d be fun if I said that! CARAS (The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences) would be going ‘he doesn’t know! Oh my God!’”
As excited as I was about talking to one of the funniest men in Canada, Mercer was equally excited about sharing the stage with such a dynamic line-up. “I certainly never thought in grade ten that some day I’d be introducing The Guess Who.”
Mercer’s also thrilled about meeting Bruce Cockburn, who will be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame at the Awards presentation this Sunday evening. “That’s the great thing about this show, it has an amazing line-up but it also has a great induction. Bruce Cockburn is just too cool, I love the fact that Canada’s most famous folkie hunts and wears fur. I like that!”
Born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, yet another product of that vibrant community of actors, musicians and comedians, Mercer appreciates the heritage that nurtured him.
Working in a cultural community where everyone knew each other, there was an incredible crossover among people in music, film, whatever. His first comedy troupe had a band because “that’s the way it was. To play in bars you had to have a band.”
His successful one-man shows - “It was me standing in the middle of a stage yelling for an hour” – include Show Me the Button, I'll Push It; I've Killed Before; I'll Kill Again and A Good Place to Hide.
These days, Monday night is Mercer night on CBC. First it’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes, now in its 8th season, with co-hosts Mary Walsh, Cathy Jones and Greg Thomey. He’s now relocated to Halifax, where the shows are taped. A few of the sketches for the weekly show are shot Thursday - things that have to be done outside the studio - but the bulk of the program is filmed Friday night in front of a live audience.
Two of the more popular segments are Mercer’s “Streeters”, where he walks and rants, staring down the camera as he dissects the convoluted reasoning of today’s headline makers; and “Talking to Americans”, real interviews with Americans, invited to comment on preposterous Canadian news facts.
You might see them congratulating us for finally getting a second area code, or disagreeing with our new law requiring children under 16 to wear diapers on public beaches. On April Fool’s Day there will be an hour long special of Talking to Americans, with old and new footage.
22 Minutes leads into Made In Canada, his popular sit-com set in the fictional TV studio Pyramid Productions. Sixteen episodes are filmed each summer.
Mercer will fly into Hamilton after Friday’s taping and he’s really looking forward to working Copps Coliseum again. “It was a great crowd. When you work in television you don’t get to play rooms like that – it’s the domain of the rock and roll star.”
// tie dye