This article was published in the print edition of Popjournalism magazine, and is currently available as paywalled content on Artsculture.ca
Two regular-sized inkjet paper signs announce that you’ve arrived at the offices of Rick Mercer’s Monday Report. It looks like every other office in the labyrinth-like Toronto CBC Headquarters. Inside, there’s a farm of grey institutional desks with fabric cubicle walls. Lined around the room are tiny, mostly square workplaces. Near the end of the hall, to the right, is Rick Mercer’s small and windowless office. You can tell because there’s an oversized paper envelope taped to the door with his name on it.
Right now, Mercer is not in his office and it looks like he never is. His Spartan home base holds a simple desk with a few accessories and two basic bookshelves on opposite walls. It looks like a humourless place in which to produce a comedy show. However, further exploration is put on hold as Mercer steps out of another office to introduce himself.
Once we shake hands and exchange pleasantries, Mercer takes a few minutes to pose for a few promotional photographs. He’s smaller than you’d think he’d be, but everyone says that about television celebrities. Other than that detail, he looks exactly as he does on television: an average-looking Canadian, with an average build. He has green eyes that are housed over thick, arched eyebrows. His curly black hair looks unmovable and forever in place. Today he’s wearing a pair of grey dress pants with a black suit jacket over a navy T-shirt.
After the photo shoot, his expression is serious, but not intimidating. The chit-chat between celebrity and journalist is civil and efficient, like a business transaction. He seems wary, like the friendly face of Popjournalism could at any time turn into an ambush.
It only takes a misplaced pen to crumble that impression.
As we walk into Mercer’s office to start the interview, following a covert effort to find my missing pen or to locate a stray replacement, I sheepishly admit that I need to borrow a pen.
This act seems to break the ice for Mercer. He sits down behind his desk, takes off his suit jacket, and turns his burgundy plastic pen organizer towards me.
“It’s the first day back to school and I’ve got my supplies,” he says. “Help yourself.”