Tasering Rick Mercer: stories from his new memoir

TV star, author entertains enthusiastic crowd at central library

4 min read
A man in a black suit is talking into a microphone while crouched on the left. A man sitting down is laughing on the right, behind him.
caption Rick Mercer tells a story about how he was tasered during a talk publicizing his new memoir. The talk was hosted by Saltwire columnist John DeMont.
Kate Barrio

A full crowd showed up last Saturday to the Paul O’Regan Hall to listen as Rick Mercer launched his memoir and sixth book, called The Road Years: A Memoir Continued. The audience of around 250 laughed and applauded during the talk.

Rick Mercer, 54, is a Canadian comedian, author and television personality best known for the CBC shows This Hour Has 22 Minutes, which he worked on for eight years, and the Rick Mercer Report, which lasted 14 years. Mercer has over 25 years of experience on television, talking to politicians such as Stephen Harper and famous Canadians such as Rush drummer Neil Peart.

Mercer talked about famous moments during Rick Mercer Report such as an auto race held at Varney Motor Speedway in Ontario known as the “train of death,” which chained cars together as they sped around the track.

He said the show led him to meet multiple provincial premiers and talked about moments that never made it to air. One example: the time he was tasered by a police officer.

“There were so many things I did that I absolutely loved doing. I pinch myself that I’m having this opportunity,” said Mercer. “But there’s days like the train of death that weren’t on my bucket list, nor was being tasered.”

Mercer was filming an episode about a SWAT team in Ottawa, and the crew began joking about tasering Mercer as part of the episode.

“Tom Stanley, my producer at the time, said, ‘There’s a cop there who really wants to taser you,’ ” said Mercer. “And I said ‘Tom, all joking aside, I’m not getting tasered on television, that’s never happening.’ And he said, ‘I don’t blame you since no one has ever done it.’ ”

After hearing that, Mercer agreed to being tasered.

“Now the cop that tasered me, that was on his bucket list!” Mercer said.

After the crew found out the next day that a man had died by being tasered, the episode was delayed a week, but then never aired.

Bookmark manager Michael Hamm, who partnered with the Halifax Central Library for this event, was “very pleased” to have a well-known Canadian author’s publishers respond to their proposal.

Hamm was told by Doubleday Canada that spots were limited for tour dates but was then told that Halifax was lucky enough to be on the list of stops.

“We knew that Rick Mercer was coming out with another volume of his memoir series,” said Hamm. “We put in a pitch to the people in Toronto that we would love to be able to work with him if he came to Halifax.”

He also found the event is good for business, since many customers have purchased the memoir as Christmas presents.

“Once we get the books in the display window, yeah that generates a lot of interest in people who want to come, especially this time of year to give that book as a gift,” said Hamm. “We sold a lot of copies before Rick ever arrived, that’s for sure.”

Mercer also mentioned his charity, called Spread the Net, which he started in 2007 with the help of former MP Belinda Stronach. They started this after going to Africa and seeing the impact malaria had on the community.

Mercer noticed that no children were present, which he found out was due to a malaria outbreak that had killed all the children.

“The day before we were 400 kilometres away, and there were children, there was a school, there was an economy, corn growing. I said, ‘Well what’s the difference, we’re only 400 kilometres away?’ (His guide) said, ‘Well they have bed-nets, these people didn’t have bed-nets.’ ”

Then they started a student challenge for Spread the Net, to see how much money Canadian schools could raise to purchase bed-nets for the communities in Africa most affected by malaria. By 2018, they raised $1.6 million for bed-nets.

A woman in a green shirt with her back to the camera on the left, and a man facing the camera in a white dress shirt and black jacket is signing a book on the right.
caption Haligonians line up to get their copies of Rick Mercer’s memoir signed.
Kate Barrio

Fans got a chance after the book talk to meet Mercer and get their books signed.

Janet Clive, who has been a fan since the Rick Mercer Report aired when it was called Monday Report in 2004, was very excited.

“It was great, it was nice to hear him in person,” Clive said. “His involvement with the communities, and the places he went to, and the things that he did. Mostly on dares, I think, it’s very brave.”

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About the author

Kate Barrio

Kate is a fourth-year Journalism student in the BJH program at the University of King's College from Moncton, N.B.

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