Rick Mercer gets his rant on

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First aired on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight (17/9/12) and Q (17/9/12)


On January 14, 2004, the Rick Mercer Report aired on CBC TV. With it came a Mercer trademark: the rant. Perfected during Mercer's time at This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Rick's Rant has covered everything from voter turnout to Canadian drivers who don't think they need snow tires and has become a staple of Canadian critical commentary. Rick has compiled some of the best rants from the show's most recent seasons in a new book, A Nation Worth Ranting About.

The most successful rants have a formula: a bit of information, a bit of humour, a bit of inspiration. "A good rant is short and that's really my hardest job: cutting it down to a minute and a half. I never like to break the two-minute mark. It's gotta have an opinion," Mercer told Q host Jian Ghomeshi. "I try to make them funny. Sometimes they're not. It's usually gut reaction."

It was his gut that led him to perform a rant about the suicide of 15-year-old Ottawa gay teen Jamie Hubley. "It was a subject that didn't lend itself to any kind of humour." But the delicate subject matter didn't mean Mercer shied away. Instead, he shared his fury with Canada and called for immediate action. "It's no longer good enough to tell kids who are different it's going to get better," he says in the video. "It needs to get better right now." Mercer was faced with a flurry of op-eds and reactions on social media in response. "It took on a life of its own. If I ever had to choose a rant to go viral, it would be that one," Mercer said to George Stroumboulopoulos. "It was a rant that I was pretty passionate about."

Anger can have just as big an impact as Mercer's other trademark, humour. Mercer has inspired voter flash mobs and national conversations about subjects that affect Canada today. And he's aware of his influence -- and what a privilege it is to have it.

"I have the greatest job in the country," he writes in the introduction of A Nation Worth Ranting About. "And don't just take my word for it; I have received thousands of emails from 10-year-old boys telling me so."


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