Nfld. & Labrador

Rick Mercer receives one of the highest, most prestigious honours — in Middle Cove, anyway

The celebrated comedian in town received the key to his hometown while visiting St. John's to promote his new book.

Comedian awarded key to his hometown on Saturday

Before Rick Mercer was a CBC Television staple, he was just a funny kid from Middle Cove. (Malone Mullin/CBC)

This weekend, celebrated Canadian comedian and satirist Rick Mercer received one of the highest, most prestigious possible honours — in Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove, that is.

On Saturday morning, in the gymnasium of the St. Francis of Assisi School, Mercer was presented with the key to the town he grew up in.

"I knew about the key, and I was incredibly flattered, that's a huge honour," Mercer said after the ceremony. "What I didn't know is that there would be a sketch that included things I did when I was 10, 11, 12 years old, that I thought no one knew."

The packed crowd of 160 roared with laughter listening to locals parody Mercer's childhood exploits — but, despite flashing a sheepish smile and burying his face in his hands as comedians described the more embarrassing antics, Mercer isn't shy about sharing where he's from.

A couple of local comedians dug up some dirt on Mercer and had his hometown in stitches Saturday morning. (Malone Mullin/CBC)

On the mainland, he says, people ask him about the "magical place" where he first developed the saucy, bombastic style he's known for today.

"People were like, 'Where is this place, where there's beaches and capelin, and ponds to swim in, and meadows to camp in, and horses to feed apples to on the side of the road?'

"I was always aware that it was great.… I've always thought of it only as home." 

Rick Mercer accepted the key to Middle Cove in a ceremony Saturday morning. (Malone Mullin/CBC)

That's a big compliment, considering the globetrotting Mercer has done in his lifetime, some of which he revisits in his latest book, Final Report.

The book combines previously unpublished rants with stories from his 15 years spent on the road with the crew from the Rick Mercer Report.

"I flipped a car, we rolled a car, we almost hit a few deer, we crashed a hot air balloon, we crashed a helicopter, kind of — that's just going to work," he told CBC News about his years of travelling the country for his hit show.

Mercer shares the stage with Canadian country singer Brett Kissel in a segment from the Rick Mercer Report. (CBC)

Many of the Rick Mercer Report crew were with him from the very first shoot to the very last signoff, and it's that team he has missed the most since the final credits rolled April 10.

"My cameraman had three small kids when we started and now, they're all married," he said.

Writing the book allowed him to relive some of the show's most memorable moments — "a lot of things that went right, a lot of things that went wrong" — and revisit some of his best, most memorable rants.

"Sometimes you forget," Mercer said. "You go back and, you know, 'Oh I forgot that they built a fence around the harbour. I'm angry again!'"

Mercer's rants have evolved over the years — but he's never been at a loss for words. (CBC)

Over the years, his rants evolved from missives about Canadian politics to more universal topics, he said.

"The fact that Canadians don't know how to use escalators anymore," he said, as an example.

Eventually, he found he could write rants about things that didn't need a comedic hook, like one about Gord Downie, the late lead singer of the Tragically Hip. 

"All I can really do is talk to people," he said. "A lot of Newfoundlanders are like that; I'm just glad I figured out you can make a living doing it."

Mercer said he's not sure what his next project will be — or at least, he's not giving any hints — but he said he does love writing, and that in particular enjoyed writing Final Report.

"[But] I'm not quite ready to write a memoir yet, I'll leave that to Alan Doyle and Mark Critch."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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