Books

Rick Mercer wins $25K Stephen Leacock Medal for best Canadian humour writing

In Talking to Canadians, the iconic comedian charts his rise from highly unpromising schoolboy to the heights of TV fame.

In his memoir Talking to Canadians, Mercer charts his rise as a Canadian comedian

Rick Mercer, seen at the 2019 Juno Awards, won the 2022 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour for his memoir Talking to Canadians. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Comedian and former CBC personality Rick Mercer has won the 2022 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for his memoir Talking to Canadians. The $25,000 prize annually recognizes the best in Canadian humour writing.

In Talking to Canadians, Mercer charts his rise from highly unpromising schoolboy to the heights of TV fame. 

Mercer rose to fame with his one-man show Show Me the Button I'll Push It, or Charles Lynch Must Die that toured across Canada before co-creating and starring on CBC's long-running series This Hour Has 22 Minutes. He was also the host of The Rick Mercer Report for 15 seasons. His newest project is the TV show Comedy Night with Rick Mercer, which is now available on CBC Gem.

Mercer became known for his unique approach to comedy, which he reflects on in Talking to Canadians.

"When we started The Mercer Report, we decided the time had come to celebrate things we liked and celebrate things we thought were worth celebrating about the country," Mercer told Shelagh Rogers on The Next Chapter in 2021

"That's an odd lane for comedians to take because comedy is never about building up. It's almost always about tearing down. And that's OK, but we just decided to go another way. So that was the rule. If we're going to go to Thunder Bay, we're going to go and explore why the people there love it and why they live there and why they think it's the best place in the world to live.

"We were going to celebrate, or nothing." 

LISTEN | Rick Mercer discusses Talking to Canadians with Shelagh Rogers:

Rick Mercer talks to Shelagh Rogers about his memoir, Talking to Canadians.

Talking to Canadians was selected from a total of 78 submissions, which was narrowed down to a longlist of 10 books and a shortlist of three books.

The other two finalists were This Hour Has 22 Minutes star Mark Critch for his memoir An Embarrassment of Critch's and Plains Cree writer and comedian Dawn Dumont for her novel The Prairie Chicken Dance Tour.

As runners-up, Critch and Dumont will each receive $4,000.

The Leacock Medal celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. The award has been given out since 1947. 

Last year's winner was Thomas King, for his novel Indians on Vacation.

Other past winners include Heidi L.M Jacobs, Robertson Davies, Pierre Berton, Farley Mowat, Paul Quarrington, Mordecai Richler, Stuart McLean, Terry Fallis, Susan Juby and Cassie Stocks.

WATCH | Rick Mercer reflects on his career on The National:

Rick Mercer on his new memoir, being ‘useless’ during the pandemic

11 months ago
Duration 8:08
Comedian Rick Mercer talks to Adrienne Arsenault about writing his memoir, Talking To Canadians, why he felt ‘useless’ during the COVID-19 pandemic and shares some thoughts on current Canadian politics.

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