#80 – Channel Surfing, Part Four: This Hour is 22 Minutes (Too Long)

English Canadians watch a nasty, prejudicial, stupid comedy show that sucks so badly that only two of its seasons have ever been put on DVD.

This Hour has 22 Minutes is a lame, stereotype-laden “comedy” effort farted into existence in 1992. The CBC thought that its collection of Quebec-hating lowball comedy (including a hilarious bit in 2007 where an independent Quebec is presented as a third-world land with nothing left but racism) was just the thing to help created a concept of common Canadiana amongst the Anglos. Scoring an amazing 6.5 on IMdb, this hilarious show was all about making pantomimes of what Canada’s regions look like. So Newfies are idiots, the Quebecois are racist evil nasty no-good bad guys, and bothering Rob Ford at home to make an unfunny joke was totally okay!

What really gives with this show? It was the starting point for the careers of people who fled to the United States, and it launched Rick Mercer and his milquetoast non-humor. Did you know that Fort McMurray’s downtown is defined by its residents in terms of the front office of the Edmonton Oilers and how poverty has reduced them to sleeping on their Ski-Doos? Hilarious! Turning YouTube meme-sation “What Does the Fox Say?” into “What Does Rob Ford Say?”, which doesn’t even fit the rhythm of the original tune? Riotous! The show also actively shills for Jean Chretien because he was an effective comedy stump for the show. Never mind the cuts and devastation caused by Chretien’s rule – he made the funnies with the funnymans hee hee hee!

Such a clearly brilliant program obviously played on the successes of Canadian sketch comedy, but it did so in such ridiculous mythological contexts so as to make the whole thing ludicrous. Rick Mercer’s hilarious “Talking to Americans” wherein the expectation that Americans know or care about a country 10% of its size in a context where Mexico is far more important resulted in abjectly humorless hubris from “Canada’s comedians”. The show is supported by Canadian taxpayers – an unfunny, sanitized relic of the days when Canada did sketch comedy well. As it is, the show seems best to shuffle Canadians off to the United States, where they presumably are allowed to be free-range humorists.

I’m sure glad to be subsidizing comedic brain drain by way of an unfunny program that long ago lost its bite. Making fun of Rob Ford? Refering to Stephen Harper as a “King”? Never done that before!! Ha ha ha ha ha. Ha. Ha…

#61 – Channel Surfing, Part Three: Rick Mercer Reports on Nothing

Rick Mercer is the Don Cherry of the caker left in Canada. I’ll admit to putting this off because watching the man in action is just so unappealing. Look, people. I’ve watched Schitt’s Creek, Little Mosque on the Prairie, and listened to the Vinyl Cafe for the sake of research. They were all insipid, gloopy, flaccid mush. But I would take in every episode of that dreck twice in the name of avoiding this moron and his mouthbreathing Potemkin Tour of Canada. I don’t think it’s possible to any less amused by anything ever put to film than I was while doing the research for this piece. I hate Don Cherry because he is an empty suitrack with a singular competence who nevertheless feels that his reactionary, know-nothing voice is wanted. For Rick I feel much the same, only without the “singular competence” bit. Even the Moan and Wail won’t hesitate to call Mercer a coward!

Let’s start with this noxious example of how Rick peddles in Canadian revisionism:

Rick scores some rotten points immediately with his whinging nonsense about American border security. He makes a point of attempting to break US law by having his driver only bring his driver’s license to the border, and then he sagely advises the viewer that although his passport contains Afghan visas (because Afghans in the US were at the time being horrifically mistreat…oh, wait) he himself is white and therefore should have no problems. He then suggests to his viewers that should he fail to follow (another) US law regarding filming border crosses he will be sent to Syria and tortured. Hey assbag – Canada was complicit in the extradition of Omar Khadr. Amazing how you didn’t mention that part, eh fuckface? He finishes by making it to Buffalo (one wonders how the driver managed to get over, unless he actually had his passport the whole time) and shilling for Tim Horton’s, because you just can’t be a revisionistic shitstain on the face of Canadian “entertainment” without that. DAE security warnings in Canada are the same as the quantity of cream in a shit cup of coffee?

Hilarious.

Then we get this laugh-a-minute look at the poverty of Newfoundland:

You see, Rick doesn’t have the balls to make fun of the hideous urban form of Fort McMurray or the ludicrous stupidity of having a mono-industrial town in the middle of nowhere. Instead, he decides that it’s hilarious to say that as a thirty-something year old Newfie it’s shocking that he hasn’t been to Fort McMurray. Never mind that this guy already has a job, making the entire joke utterly pointless. But don’t worry – Tim Horton’s is hiring!! What’s with this moron and his idle worship of Tim Horton’s? I also find it remarkable how the notion of sending remittances to failed parts of this country is rendered into humor by Rick. Tee hee, aren’t the Maritime provinces just so fucking poor? LOL having to leave your home to find work in extractive bullshit is funny! HAHAH-oh, right. Funny how Rick never jokes about how trashy Fort McMurray is.

And this isn’t even the worst of Rick. His wretched show is mercifully kaput, but he maintains his idiotic ramblings in a Toronto alleyway with his singularly blunt “Rick’s Rant”, where he shills for #RealChange by effectively suggesting that Canadians are too stupid to oppose obvious failures in the Canadian state because they will instead idly point to Donald Trump. It turns out that Canadians are not in fact immune to populism, as future Premier Doug Ford looms over Ontario like the Hindenburg coming in for a landing. Or this unbearable left-caker insinuation that only white people can hold reactionary views and thus that only white people are responsible for civic and social failure in this country.

Part of the reason I took so long to do this is because I genuinely want to punch this gob in the nose every time I look at him. To read the comments on these videos it seems like Rick is fooling Canadians into believing in their ramshackle shit-shack just fine, which is even more alarming and disheartening. A propagandist with an unfunny bundle of jokes and the kind of comforting upper-middle-class opinions that middle management bleats out over Thanksgiving dinner, Rick Mercer represents a Canada that is simply too scared to meaningfully self-reflect. I can’t wait to watch him squirm when Doug Ford becomes Premier of Ontario, mostly because I’m curious as to how these caker munsons will try to pass this off as somehow congruent with their revisionistic make-believe.

 

 

 

 

#40 – Channel Surfing, Part Two: Little Shit in the Prairies

The year is 2007. Somewhere in the bowels of the CBC a monstrously unfunny belch of a television program lay dormant, awaiting its chance to inflict grave wounds on the concept of comedy. A whiff of nepotism breathes life into the unspeakable horror, and soon the rotting eructation that is Little Mosque on the Prairie is launched into the unsuspecting television screens of over eighty countries. Little Mosque sees its viewer base decline by 80% in four seasons, probably because every episode is disgustingly hokey, cheerful, tee-hee tripe. Five years later, the show is cancelled and returned to the depths. As I re-write this it is the ten-year anniversary of Little Mosque’s greasy hand-stain on humor. Why not slag the shit out of it?

Little Mosque on the Prairie takes place in a fictional town called Mercy, Saskatchewan. Ever notice that so many Canadian shows take place in make-believe communities? Schitt’s Creek, Dog River, Possum Lake – what’s with that? Anyways, Mercy looks and feels like most of the CBC’s make-believe rural communities in that the place was apparently written by someone who had never seen a Canadian city with fewer than 100,000 inhabitants except while driving. Here come some shucks-golly Muslims renting an Anglican church as a place of worship and GASP! Tensions! Comedic, wacky, hokey tensions that can be set aside after 20-some minutes of painfully saccharine dialog until they blow up again in the next episode! And be sure to laugh at the ridiculous swimsuit the Muslim wears since the pool has co-ed swimming classes! The show’s message appears to be “did you know that Muslims are people too?”. Sadly, it lacks the comedic punch, visual appeal, and talent of shows that express similarly complex messages, like Sesame Street.

(S) These puppets feel more human than Little Mosque’s retinue

We have nepotism to thank for this show’s existence and continuation despite losing over one million viewers just within the first season. Generic “nice guy” and feel-good liberal strawman Amaar Rashid is played on the show by a fellow named Zaib Shaikh, who now works as a who-knows-what bureaucrat for the City of Toronto saying stupid shit about Toronto being the most diverse city on Earth, which seems unlikely in a world where New York City exists. Now, I’ve got nothing in particular against Zaib, but I do take issue with the fact that he’s married to Kirstine Stewart, who at the time of the show’s running was the executive director of programming at the CBC, and that at no point was there a conversation I can find regarding the potential for a conflict-of-interest. I mean, the show was given a sixth (and mercifully final) season despite losing 80% of its audience just three months before the wedding. The person who okays your show probably should at least make some show of recusal when they’re also benefiting from you getting paid. But hey – this is the CBC, a place where nepotism and double-dipping are commonplace, so fuck it!

As for the show itself, my biggest complaint with it remains the same as my general complaints about the CBC’s interpretation of small towns – namely, that these fictional towns are presented as generally-functional places. In Little Mosque the Mayor, Ann Popowicz is presented as a doofus while somehow a suburban town of 14,000 continues to self-maintain without apparent issue, the right-wing radio host equating Muslims to terrorists is revealed to be playing up his vitriol for rating, the conservative imam is convinced that anti-Semitism isn’t acceptable because reasons, and social difficulties melt in 22 minutes of cheese. The show represents the Sesame-Streetification of a complex series of problems that newcomers have to small-town Canada. It is noxious revisionism, like the Vinyl Cafe, and I think it a grave shame that anyone might watch this and think that Canada’s Prairies (which are of course hotbeds of racism) actually look anything like this dreck.