TORONTO — The talent behind CBC’s political romp “This Hour Has 22 Minutes” is preparing for a rare event: a live taping the same night as a federal election.
Top comic correspondent Mark Critch says he’ll be taking advantage of that calendar quirk by dogging Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and NDP boss Tom Mulcair at their respective headquarters on Monday, as well as providing live hits for “The National”‘s election night coverage with Peter Mansbridge.
“Hopefully if one of those two gentlemen should become prime minister or become the third party, I’ll be there to either congratulate or hold gently,” Critch cracked.
It’s believed to be the first time in 23 seasons that “22 Minutes” will tape its show on election night.
The half-hour comedy normally tapes in front of a live Halifax audience at 7 p.m. local time on Mondays. This Monday, the cameras will roll at 10 p.m. to catch as much of the results as possible.
TV viewers will have to wait until the show’s usual Tuesday timeslot to catch the action, but Critch says the show will nevertheless be fresh with election gags.
Critch says the fact he won’t be with Harper on Monday says nothing about whether or not he thinks the incumbent has a shot at another term. It’s just because the Tory leader refuses to mug for the cameras.
“Harper won’t do anything, which is strange because of all of them, he is actually the funniest,” says Critch.
“He does some great impressions, and he has a very good, dry sense of humour. He doesn’t show it to people but years ago, when he did do the show, when he was in Opposition, I saw that side of him a fair bit and he was still a pretty easy-going guy. Everything changed.”
Critch says he’ll be making things up as he goes along, as he does on most of his road trips.
A recent gag in which Critch chatted up Trudeau on the campaign bus was pure chance, he notes. The “22 Minutes” crew happened to be at the same hotel as the campaigning Liberals and Critch jumped on the opportunity to poke fun by dressing up as a long-haired, goateed younger Trudeau.
“I thought, ‘Oh I know what I’ll do, I’ll pretend to be Justin from 2011,’ but I had no idea I was going to do it. I just happened to have a black (wig), because I had a bunch of costume props because we were going to do a Halloween thing with (Federal Immigration Minister) Chris Alexander.”
Past episodes have featured Critch dressed as Mulcair interviewing Mulcair, and the cast taking on the various party bosses for a farcical English leaders debate.
Critch says the leaders clearly get something out of the bits, too. He notes that Mulcair, renowned for a combative temperament, has used the show to reveal a more relaxed side.
“It humanizes them and also if you can make fun of them a little bit about their politics, about how things are going, and they sit there and take it, they look good,” he says.
“I can tell a lot about a person by how they react in that situation. If they can stand there and take it and not get angry or anything and play along, they’re comfortable with themselves, in their own shoes.”
Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press