Promoting the Mother Corp

Mercer’s new show set for debut
TORONTO — So much for Homeland Security.
CBC’s resident satirist Rick Mercer thought it might be interesting to take a camera crew, jump into a van and head for the Canada-U.S. border at Niagara Falls on Tuesday to test the orange alert and the new border regulations.
Alas, U.S. Customs wasn’t prepared to make it interesting.
“Piece of cake, tragically,” says Mercer, who says they were waved right through, without even a raised eyebrow over the Afghan stamps in his passport. Mercer recently returned from Kabul where he entertained Canadian troops.
He says the border guards WERE interested in the contents of his production assistant’s wallet, which contained nothing more official than a Newfoundland driver’s licence and a video store card.
“Very intrigued with the driver’s licence and ‘Oh you have a Blockbuster.'”
While he did some interviews with truckers and people on both sides of the border, Mercer says they didn’t roll tape during the crossing itself.
“You can’t roll cameras as you go through U.S. Customs. Everyone in TV knows that. If you do that, you get sent to Syria, I think.”
Mercer was hoping to catch something funny on tape for his new CBC comedy series, Rick Mercer’s Monday Night Report which debuts, well, next Monday.
During the week, Mercer and crew will travel the country for material, then tape the show Friday nights in front of a studio audience at the CBC broadcast centre, with the edited product ready for airing Monday.
The comic says there will likely be something salvaged from the Niagara road trip, as well as bits on Paul Martin, mad cow and the aforementioned Kabul experience. In addition, Mercer promises to continue The Rant, the manic monologue he made famous on This Hour Has 22 Minutes.
“It’s a political show because it’s about what happened in Canada that week and what people are talking about,” he says. “Canadians are political junkies and by and large they do talk about politics.”
But he doesn’t share the concern of some comics and political cartoonists that the new prime minister might not be funny enough.
“That’s just opening night nerves, with a new cast member,” Mercer says.
“They’re like going ‘Well, I hope he’s going to be as good as the last guy’. It’s like getting a new Darrin on Bewitched. It’s like ‘How’s he gonna compete with the old one?’ Well, it’ll work, don’t worry.”
Mercer’s new star vehicle debuts as part of CBC’s Monday night troika of mid-season shows. He is followed by the return of Ken Finkleman’s The Newsroom and then the new legal drama This is Wonderland with Cara Pifko.
While it sounds like a nerve-wracking high-wire act, Mercer says he’s comfortable with jumping on a plane or getting in a car, not knowing what he’s going to get.
“That’s part of the excitement of creating television on the fly, crashing and burning.
“Who knows? The nature of the beast is the unknown. All I can say is, I will try my best to give you a funny show every weekend. It’s not a soap box, it’s a comedy show.”
His earlier Talking to Americans routine became a huge hit as Mercer and crew just how little the average American knows about Canada. The routine lost much of its punch after Sept. 11. But Mercer says the street interviews he does in Canada will be different.
“Of course it has this connotation that I’ll be out there pulling fast ones all the time and. . .it’s actually quite impossible for me to do that in Canada anyway.”