TORONTO — Political satirist Rick Mercer has a new book and “a bunch” of projects in the works, but a run for office doesn’t seem likely.
“I’m less interested in politics now than I ever have been in my entire life,” the St. John’s native, who lives in Toronto, said in an interview for the newly published book Rick Mercer Final Report.
“I used to think about it, but I think if you’re an armchair expert in baseball or hockey, you always think, ‘Well, what if they called me up and asked me to be the general manager?’”
The Canadian comedian was often asked about his political aspirations throughout his career on the weekly CBC satirical news series Rick Mercer Report, which ended its 15-season run last April after he decided it was simply the right time.
Now that the self-described political junkie has the time to devote to such considerations, it seems his mind is on other things than what’s defined him for so many years.
“For the first time in my life, I don’t have an immediate plan,” said Mercer, who co-created and was previously a resident performer on CBC’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes.
“Now I can consider doing things that I couldn’t have considered before. Just the other day I said, ‘Maybe I’ll write a play again.’ It’s been 25 years since I said that out loud, so who knows.”
Or maybe that 2014 script he helped work on for a potential remake of Norman Jewison’s The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, which never came to fruition, will resurface.
The script is among the revelations in Rick Mercer Final Report, which includes comical and touching essays on his life and career, as well as a slew of the signature rants he delivered from a graffiti-decorated alley on his CBC show.
“I’ve had my hand in many, many, many (scripts) over the years. That one didn’t get produced, unfortunately,” said Mercer, who writes in the book about his friendship with Jewison and his admiration for the filmmaker.
“But I didn’t care. Heading into it, I knew it was probably a longshot. But as I mention in the book, I would have done anything to hang out with Norman Jewison.”
Jewison is one of many celebrities Mercer bonded with through his show, which launched in 2004 and saw him embark on wild adventures across Canada.
Mercer writes about a terrifying incident in a helicopter with musician pal Jann Arden, and how he got late author Pierre Berton to roll a joint on his show.
Then there was the time late Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie called him asking how to correctly pronounce the town of Isle aux Morts, N.L. Mercer gave Downie his dad’s number in case he wanted to double-check. Downie did just that and they chatted for about an hour — all the while, Mercer’s dad had no idea who he was talking to.
“It really struck me as funny that dad was talking to him for a long time and he just knew it was some guy named Gord,” Mercer said.
“When I told dad, ‘Dad, that was Gord Downie on the phone…. They were recording in Bermuda. He’s, like, the biggest rock star in Canada.’ Dad said, ‘Oh my God, he called from Bermuda? I feel terrible now, because that’s long-distance.’”
Politics, Tim Hortons wages, and daylight saving time are among the other rant subjects featured in the book.
With the news cycle changing so quickly under U.S. President Donald Trump, Mercer said he “can’t imagine” having to deliver weekly on-air rants on current events, noting “it must be very hard to keep up.”
Pop culture and U.S. politics weren’t typically covered on the show, Mercer said.
“Everyone was talking about Rihanna this week; I wasn’t. I was in Manitoba going to the wheat festival or whatever. But it was a very, very Canadian show. Now occasionally international stories would suck the oxygen out of the room and you would have to address it.
“But with Trump, he sucks the oxygen out of every room, every day, no matter what you’re covering. You could be a show about baseball and you have to talk about Trump. You could be a show about anything — it’s just all that people are talking about.”