When it comes to Canadian celebrities, you don’t get much bigger than Rick Mercer. I was actually surprised by this– I know he still has his show, but I though his fan base was mostly limited to people who remembered his 22 Minutes/Talking to Americans Day. Boy, was I wrong.
He was in town after UNBC won the Spread the Net student challenge, raising $18,000 to buy nets to protect people in malaria-risk zones from infection. The prize was a visit from Rick Mercer, who held a rally, filmed segments for his TV show, and put together some sequences for a rock video. It was nuts– more people than I’ve ever seen on campus, including concerts. Estimates ranged from 400 to 700. This is my unplanned reaction to walking into the university and seeing wall-to-wall bodies:
And here’s some sound from the rally:
Fortunately, I was there with a CBC microphone. Even though I wasn’t actually with the crew, no one else knew that, so it was pretty easy to get through the crowds– people saw the logo and stepped aside, without me saying anything. I also got have a quick conversation with the man himself. Here’s a portion that, while funny, didn’t fit into my main story (plus a picture snapped by a friend who happened to be there):
As you’ll hear in the piece, people were young, old, students, and residents from Prince George and beyond. People brought their kids, exchange students turned out to see what the big deal was. The First Nations drummers normally used in basketball games were there, and incorporated into scenes for a rock video also being filmed. At the end, everyone spilled outside so a helicopter could get some overhead shots.
The moral of the story? Rick Mercer is still a pretty big deal.
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