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Series / This Hour Has 22 Minutes

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(From left to right) Trent McClellan, Aba Amuquandoh, Mark Critch

"This Hour Has 22 Minutes is a satirical examination of daily events. Some viewers may not share this sense of humour."
— Opening Announcement

This Hour Has 22 Minutes (more commonly 22 Minutes recently) is a long running political satire show on CBC set up as a a fake news show. The title comes from a famous and controversial weekly Canadian news show from The '60s called This Hour has Seven Days (whose impact was widely felt—despite the fact that the original show only ran for all of two years—enough that they could make a reference to it in 1993 and people would still get the joke). 22 Minutes is a half-hour show, and subtracting commercials they have about 22 minutes of actual content each episode.

"What kind of show is this anyway?"
— Peter Fonda
"We're 22 Minutes. We're like the news, but drunk."
— Bas Mac Laren

The show is mostly sketch comedy revolving around current political issues, and is pretty much evenly split between the 'news anchors' interviewing fictitious people, monologues or dialogues from various recurring characters and actual interviews with real people, mostly politicians.

Very popular in its early run, the show made a national star out of Rick Mercer (who later struck out on his own with The Rick Mercer Report) and to a lesser extent Mary Walsh. At times, its influence on the Canadian political scene could be compared to the Jon Stewart era of The Daily Show on the American scene: as an example, there was a period when the Canadian Alliance (the then-right wing of the Canadian political landscape) was advocating a California-style referendum system, in which a petition signed by three percent of the population would cause a referendum to be held on the petition's subject. Rick Mercer picked up on this, announcing his plan to submit a petition for legislation to force Stockwell Day, the then-leader of the party, to change his first name to Doris. This resulted in well over three percent of the population "signing" on the show's web site by the next morning. It is arguable that this single event crushed Day's hopes for ever gaining the Prime Minister's office, although he later joined the government front bench. What is inarguable is that referendum idea was quickly and quietly dropped from the party's platform immediately and never brought up by them again.

"At this time, we need to look to Canada's poets for inspiration. And when we think Canada, when we think poets, we all think... Trooper!"
[Cut to montage of Canadian politicians singing along to "Raise A Little Hell"]

Despite the irreverent and sometimes viciously cynical attitude towards all sides of Canadian politics that the show displays, Canadian politicians are remarkably willing to do guest spots and interviews on the show.

Even the ambush reporting done by "Marg: Princess Warrior" and other personas of the cast members is popular, and few politiciansnote  have tried to escape or failed to bear up with good grace. The fact they are also on other networks at the time, as most ambushes are done during a Media Scrum, may have something to do with this.

Compare with The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.

"Well, that's the way we saw the world this week."
— Rick Mercer

This show provides examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny:
    • Many of the politicians the show goes after find the antics and jokes to be funny and laugh along. Some even are quick-witted enough to build on the humor while pushing back.
    • After the election Stockwell Day was asked about the poll attempting to force him to change his first name to Doris. His reply: "que sera sera".
  • Affectionate Parody: Common for a political satire show, but one notable recurring bit parodies The Joy of Painting. These sketches depict Bob Ross as an Ax-Crazy psychopath repressing his bloodlust with painting.
  • Alter-Ego Acting: The cast originally played characters all the time, even when in the anchor chair. This was eventually dropped around 2006 with the cast reverting to using their real names while anchoring in the studio and most reporter characters gradually being phased out to allow cast members to start building a rapport with regularly featured politicians.
  • The Artifact: The continued use of Marg: Princess Warrior shows just how long the show's been around as Xena: Warrior Princess ended way back in 2001.
  • Attack of the Political Ad: Parodied several times. For example, a series of ads from the Conservative party mocked Stephane Dion, the leader of the Liberals at the time, by calling him a nerd and claiming his name is not masculine enough.
    • In another, a voice over actor continually screws up recording for the NDP. He was supposed to say how the Liberals have a bag of money and should be given them the boot, but instead talks about the NDP having a boot, or giving the Liberals a boot, or describing the animation of the commercial.
  • Autocannibalism: In one fake campaign commercial, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper cuts himself so he can collect and drink his own blood.
  • Backhanded Apology: Anthony St. George's "Apology to America", a circa 2002 bit in which Colin Mochrie walks around Washington D.C. and passive-aggressively apologies on behalf of Canada for calling George W. Bush a moron, cheaper lumber prices, Olympic hockey victories, reluctance for joining in the Iraq War, burning down The White House during the War of 1812, various terrible Canadian celebrities and music inflicted on the U.S. over the decades, the state of American beer, and, finally, for "apologizing for things in a passive-aggressive way which is really a thinly-veiled criticism... because we've seen what you do to countries you get upset with."
  • Buttmonkey:
    • The show was unrelenting towards Stephen Harper while he was in power and the cast's barbs had none of the backhanded affection/respect that they showed to other politicians across the political spectrum.note 
    • Peter Kay has long been a favorite target because, to paraphrase Mark Critch, he's "always doing something stupid". It helps that Kay is willing to take it on the chin and occasionally gets his own back.
  • B-Roll Rebus: Parodied by having Nathan Fielder take an object out of his coat that matches each noun.
  • Couch Gag: The second disclaimer at the start of each show.
  • Country Matters: During one “Computer Corner” segment, Gunter Wilson abbreviates the phrase “See you next Tuesday” in an unfortunate way.
  • Creator Provincialism: Much of the cast are/were from Newfoundland so there's lots of good-natured jokes at their native province's expense.
  • Duck Season, Rabbit Season: A non-confrontational variation is used in one of the "Sportsbag" sketches, in which Greg Thomey plays an aging sports pundit who clearly had a few (hundred) head injuries during his own sports career, and talks completely in non sequiturs. His co-host plays along by also talking in non sequiturs, causing Thomey's character to start making sense.
  • Face Palm: Garth Brooks had to bury his face in his hands out of embarrassment when Mary Walsh ambushed him during a press conference and asked some questions laced with innuendo.
  • Gossipy Hens: The Misses Enid and Eulalia.
  • Guest Host: Several, such as Yannick Bisson and Alan Thicke.
  • Insane Proprietor: The finance minister as Crazy Jim Flaherty, selling off CBC shows.
  • Karma Houdini: Somehow, former Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard managed to become the only politician ever to effectively escape the clutches of Marg, Princess Warrior.
  • Kissing Cousins: The show's take on Prince Edward Island includes the claim that it's almost impossible not to date a cousin because the population is so small. Evidenced by the fact that most PEI characters the cast play are named Gallant.
  • Long-Runners: The series has been running continuously since 1993, with Cathy Jones being the longest-tenured cast member — serving from the show's inception until 2021.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: All of Geri Hall's characters.
  • Media Scrum: For field pieces, the cast often hide themselves among genuine reporters to pounce on politicians with their comedic questions. Their targets usually play along for a couple of minutes before moving on.
  • N-Word Privileges: In one sketch Gavin Crawford interrupts a co-anchor's report to apologize for having said "the n-word". A clip parodying the Kramer rant is then shown, with Gavin shouting "Newfies!" a couple of times.
  • News Parody: The show is a parody news broadcast with anchors in the studio and reporters in the field.
  • Piss-Take Rap: "Will the Real Rahim Jaffer Please Stand Up?" an Eminem parody.
  • Running Time in the Title
  • Sacred Hospitality: Newfoundlanders won't let anything, much less being impaled by a tree, stop them from making visitors feel at home.
  • Schemers: Recurring characters the four Quinlan Quints.
    • There are actually five quints, though in a show with only four regular cast members it's obviously difficult to depict all five at once. The running gag is that one of them is always missing or absent at any given time — although admittedly this isn't always explicitly called attention to anymore, relying sometimes on fan familiarity with their backstory.
  • Secret Other Family: In one of the New Year's Eve specials, Rick Mercer plays a taxi dispatcher who is relaying a message to one of the cabbies, telling him his wife on the east end found out about the wife on the west end.
  • Selective Stupidity: Rick Mercer's Talking To Americans features segments in which passers-by are asked questions like "Do you find it appalling that 70% of Grade 7 students in Canada, can not find their state on an unmarked map?" This was actually a statistic about American kids being bad at geography. Very few people caught on. A particularly memorable example was a mother going on about how shameful it was only to have her very young son pipe up with "Waita minute! Canada's got provinces!"
    • Mercer's also managed to dupe Mike Huckabee, George W. Bush, an Ivy League professor, and nearly every member of the Canadian Parliament since the early 1990's into saying or doing asinine things. He's a national treasure.
  • Sketch Comedy
  • Subverted Kids' Show / Stereotype Reaction Gag: Loonette the Clown, offended by the reaction to the 2016 clown sightings, tries to reassure the viewers that all clowns are harmless and just want to make people happy (except for Ronald McDonald; she fully admits that he shouldn't be trusted around children). But at then at the end of the segment, she pulls out a chainsaw with the intent of killing all of the studio crew.
  • Tongue on the Flagpole: In one segment, an eco-terrorist who was responsible for blowing up a pipeline in British Columbia offers some advice to other terrorists. He insists the media was wrong about no one being hurt, since he licked the pipeline not knowing his tongue would get stuck. Things got progressively worse when the bear showed up.
  • Who's on First?: Done with Shirley and Bill discussing Telus and Bell.