USA's new popular export: Their ignorance.
May 28, 2001 9:52 PM   Subscribe

USA's new popular export: Their ignorance. A comedian who specializes in political and cultural satire, Mercer's most popular schtick is "Talking to Americans" -- a "Candid Camera"-esque routine in which he travels the United States asking people ridiculous questions to exploit their ignorance about their northern neighbor.
posted by adnan (57 comments total)
 
Goddamn commies.
posted by Dirjy at 10:28 PM on May 28, 2001


Arthur Dent was pretty put off when he found out that the entire entry for Earth in the Hitchiker's Guide was "Mostly Harmless".

I suppose he could have roamed space, chortling at the blatant ignorance of the spaceways concerning his grand and glorious home planet. Aliens of ten thousand worlds could have been pestered and quizzed, and left with a momentary quizzical look. And Earth would have remained merely "Mostly Harmless".

No offence, Canada. But sometimes, people just have more important things to think about.
posted by Perigee at 10:33 PM on May 28, 2001


There's something to the north of us?
posted by Doug at 10:39 PM on May 28, 2001


people just have more important things to think about

Or unimportant things as long as they are local. Of course, we Australians also like to laugh at (US) American ignorance and insularity.

Just don't ask us any tough questions about New Zealand though....
posted by lagado at 10:48 PM on May 28, 2001


Bush failed to catch the fast-talking Mercer substituting the word poutine -- a Quebec mix of french fries, gravy and cheese curds -- for the real name of the prime minister, Jean Chretien.

come on... funny is funny.
posted by the_ill_gino at 11:03 PM on May 28, 2001


It's Canada for chrissake. Maple syrup, hockey, ice and beer - is there anything else up there?
posted by owillis at 11:06 PM on May 28, 2001


Well, there's hot women...
posted by fusinski at 11:12 PM on May 28, 2001


and don't forget...

poutine.

:)
posted by the_ill_gino at 11:13 PM on May 28, 2001


Canada is to the United States as what Taiwan is to China. We allow for those French/English "a-boot" speaking bastards to "run their own country" so long as they don't get high and mighty.
posted by Brilliantcrank at 11:13 PM on May 28, 2001


Canada is just like Mexico, only above us.

Just don't ask us any tough questions about New Zealand though

On a recent trip to New Zealand, I was bombarded by 'Australian' jokes. I came away with the impression that Australians must not be the brightest bunch;)
posted by justgary at 11:43 PM on May 28, 2001


> Canada is ... above us.

More than you know.
posted by pracowity at 11:52 PM on May 28, 2001


Excuse me "gsxl" But "americans" tried to selfishly take canadian soil for themselves before, and we(Canada) kicked the high-horse poo out of you(america). The war of 1812. A group of american troops marched into Canada with "superior" numbers, and then were routed by a Canadian officer and his handfull of men. After that, Canadian allied forces came south and burned down the presidential house. They had to repaint the ugly thing white, hence the name for the silly building. Sound familiar? No? Thats because your ancestors wont say a word about past failures(I say nothing about native americans, mexicans or anything in the line of slavery, we all have shared sins when it comes to having past ties with the british empire). Imagine that, not talking about your own defeats. What kind of hubris is that. "He who fails to learn from history is doomed to repeat it".

I know your joking around (you better buddy, or I feel sorry for ya, you have no idea what one of us could do to 10 of you...I once reduced a man to slobbering on himself and total lack of muscular control....I told him the Killing joke), and so am I, Im just showing you what sitting on a high horse looks like.

I have a favorite phraze I like to use when I talk to state-siders who seem less than interested in knowing what they are talking about before their mouth gets opened:
"Canada is a great place to live, and to keep other people from wrecking it, we keep a big ol dumb bulldog out front (america). It thinks it owns the yard, and it spends alot of time pooing where it sleeps, but generally we in the big beautiful house (Canada) get along with it, letting it think its the master of all it surveys. After all, it cant seem to see over the fence..."

Now that one stings, dont it? Im terribly sorry if it does. Its meant as a matched verbal sling when someone fails to notice Canadians are the first people to the party and the last ones to throw a punch, and always always telling the jokes that keep everyone happy.
Canadians soldiers are applied in Peace Keeping missions worldwide moreso than in matters of Canadian defence! Why? Because the US seems to have the art of hitting everyone else first down pat. For this I am very greatful to the States. God bless you. We dont have much to wory about (no, we never NEVER say "Aboot" until we think an american is listening) because anyone who attacks Canada is gonna piss off the political aliance and treaties honourees.
Simply put: "Hey america, as long as you refuse to learn aboot...(ahem) About us, we are gonna keep on saying your ignorant. You know damn well a Canadian tourist in washington would get beaten to death when asking what a "white house" is and if its available for rent; but if an american goes anywhere else on the planet, everything is called "stupid" because its not american. Sheesh, give me a break. Next time any of you are out abroad in the world, try putting a Canadian patch on your shoulder and suddenly discover that other countries arent throwing rocks at just anyone who passes by, just americans.

My humble apologies for my views to any Americans who already have taken 5 minutes to learn where Canada is and for knowing it is the largest politically unified landmass in the world, with the lightest (therefore possibly most ideal) population densities in the americas.

By the way: Jim Carey is ours. That is all. Born and raised.
Tom Green may have come from here (I met the idiot, he and I lived in the same city for too long, and there is no getting around that guy) but america can keep him.

(wink) This is all I will say for now about the *secret* Canadian planned invasion of america.

Have a nice day. :)

PS: Rick mercer rocks because he actually does stand as an example of a regular Canadian -- sharp, witty, glib, cool under fire.

PSS: My girlfriend is american. I love americans when they are just being nice. No, really, honest.

Im sorry.

Shes gonna kick my @$$
posted by Azaroth at 12:34 AM on May 29, 2001


like I said, maple syrup.
:)
posted by owillis at 1:01 AM on May 29, 2001


I'm sorry, but wasn't Canada a British colony in 1812? Not trying to pee on your rant (it was a nice rant, really) but you guys didn't get to run your own affairs for a while after 1812, if I'm not mistaken. I'm pretty sure it was the British Navy who burned DC.

Otherwise...well, honestly, what does Canada want? Why should we treat you any better than we do the English, or the French, or anyone else? Because you're closer?

I've been to Canada quite a few times in my life...spent some time in Vancouver, and a month in Toronto. Good deal of country between the two. And in that time, I lost track of how many people felt the need to make snotty comments about my homeland. Especially since they didn't even know where it was...my accent is not a New York accent, it's a New England one. Specifically, southern New England, the state of Rhode Island.

I didn't expect them to know that. Should I be expected to know all about Canada? Why? (Sir Winston Churchill's excellent writings aside, which I read with interest.) It's like asking me to care about the neighbor across the street who always mispronounces my last name and who couldn't remember the difference between me and my brother even though we spent ten years delivering his newspaper. Must I spout off about Emily Beavan to be considered sufficently informed about Canada? Do we have to discuss Bloody Saturday? How about the fact that in 1928, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that women were not persons under the law? Do I know enough about Canada yet? How about the battle of Ortona, when Canadians kicked the crap out of a bunch of Sicilians? Or I could sing the praises of Louis-Joseph Papineau, if that would make you happy.

Tell me about the Gaspee and I'll talk about Canada. Otherwise, isn't it about time for Quebec to decide they should secede again?
posted by Ezrael at 1:07 AM on May 29, 2001


> Canada is ... above us.

More than you know.


Ahh, you left out 'just like mexico'. Selective editing eh?

By the way: Jim Carey is ours.

Don't forget Howie Mandell, CĂ©line Dion, Corey Hart, and Bryan Adams. Stars all...
posted by justgary at 1:27 AM on May 29, 2001


My above post is evidence that one should never respond purely out of anger. Sorry about that...I will now stand back and endure the drubbing I have earned.
posted by Ezrael at 1:42 AM on May 29, 2001


If you are going to take the credit for Jim Carey, then you have to take the blame for Tom Green and Mr. Shatner. Of course, John Candy is reason enough for me to forgive Canada of just about anything.

In the end, stupidity is a an abundant, renewable world resource for comedians to tap in perpetuity.

"Well he got this new globe for Christmas. He's found a lot of new countries."

-Robert J. Dole, when asked by Conan O'Brian about how some people were concerned that GWB doesn't have a good grasp about current affairs
posted by john at 2:07 AM on May 29, 2001


This is just like the the American show Street Smarts (can't find a link to it anywhere) the only difference is that Street Smarts features Americans who don't seem to know anything not only about the US, but their home cities as well.

Please Azaroth. Do whatever you can to take Jim Carrey back (and I would consider it a personal favor if you got Nelly Furtado to go along.) I'll do what I can to keep letting Bran Van 3000 come over the border to make up for Celine Dion.
posted by eyeballkid at 2:07 AM on May 29, 2001


A group of american troops marched into Canada with "superior" numbers, and then were routed by a Canadian officer and his handfull of men. After that, Canadian allied forces came south and burned down the presidential house.

Just to reaffirm: Canada was still British at the time. Canadians didn't do it; the British did. Any Canadian who throws this useless bit of information out there is living on borrowed glory.
posted by Mo Nickels at 2:08 AM on May 29, 2001


I'm just guessing here, but I think that the reason Canadians are so well informed about the U.S. and not vice versa is because a large percentage of Canadian mass media is actually imported from America (which causes a lot of Canadians to worry about the dissolution of their culture, from what I've read). If I could get Canadian TV stations and movies and newspapers where I live, I'd probably know a lot more about Canadian affairs.

Also, I'd be willing to bet that a large percentage of people in any given country are ignorant about many things that don't directly affect them or their neighbors. I bet I could make a TV show based on traveling Canada and making fun of ignorant Canadians just as easily as this guy makes fun of ignorant Americans. I don't think it would be as popular, though, because it'd be about Canadians. Who would care?
posted by RylandDotNet at 2:33 AM on May 29, 2001


> try putting a Canadian patch on your shoulder and
> suddenly discover that other countries arent throwing
> rocks at just anyone who passes by, just americans.

It's true. I suggest the Maple Leaf patch trick to all US tourists. People like Canadians. But even supposed friends of the US on a national level often dislike Americans one by one, and would prefer that Americans just leave their dollars at the cash register and go home on the next plane.

> Canada was still British at the time. Canadians didn't
> do it; the British did.

And the British colonies to the south of Canada of course remained British until the end of the colonial revolt. Does that mean everything done in those colonies should be credited to the British? And the colonials -- Daniel Boone, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, etc. -- all British?
posted by pracowity at 3:07 AM on May 29, 2001


Mercer's Talking with Americans schtick is fun in small bits, but I found myself drifting away after about 1/2 of the special they ran recently.

Do I think Americans are stupid? No more than anyone else. Do I think Americans are more arrogant than Canadians? In the overt, "my country is the greatest" way, yeah. But then we Canadians can get all passive-aggressively arrogant in turn.

To be fair, not all the stupidity displayed on the TwA is extracted under fair circumstances. As much as I love to rag on Bush, a hurried response re Jean Poutine when he probably wasn't completely listening isn't demonstrable evidence of any genuine dimness. And some of the other questions asked do suppose that Americans pay more attention to us than one should reasonably expect. But some of these people do seem completely clueless: "congratulations to Canada for getting the ninth grade"? (Let's allow for a certain percentage saying anything in order to play along and get a chance to be on camera -- but only a certain percentage).

Nonetheless, as our beloved Laura Secord would say, don't have a cow, man. We still love you. (Now give us some HBO, damn it!)
posted by maudlin at 4:58 AM on May 29, 2001


Thank you for Red Green, that is all.
posted by Mick at 5:25 AM on May 29, 2001


Right on, pracowity.

A more meaningful indicator would be where did these British troops live? How many were colonists and how many straight from Britain?

Australian troops have been called British on many occasions, that's certainly not how they thought of themselves though.
posted by lagado at 5:37 AM on May 29, 2001


Wow, this is the most time I've spent thinking about Canada in my whole life. Somebody, make it stop!
posted by Outlawyr at 5:54 AM on May 29, 2001


"Americans don't know who we are talking about," the 31-year-old Mercer said. "We find that funny because we happen to know who Newt Gingrich is even if we don't want to know."

Newt Gingrich is so Clinton Administration. I suppose that news of current American politics hasn't reached Canada. Or they don't know as much about US politics as they think they do.

Q: What's the collective noun for a group of Canadians?
A: A smug of Canadians.
posted by idiolect at 6:08 AM on May 29, 2001


mmm... the two best things from Canada. Degrassi Jr. High & Labatts.
posted by jbelshaw at 6:43 AM on May 29, 2001


At best, the War of 1812 was a draw. In the end the border didn't change and asses got kicked on both sides. To further muddy the waters as to whether "Canadians" (british colonists at the time, as pointed out) defeated the American army, locally-raised militias fought alongside iroquois warriors and british regulars in most of the battles in Upper Canada. Owing to the large influx into Upper Canada of colonists from America after the Revolutionary War, it wouldn't be much of a stretch to say that the American Army was defeated in some part by former americans, too.

Ambiguous results and valiant deeds on both sides let everyone claim victory. It was 175 years ago. Can we move on yet? No one else in the world can tell us apart, after all.
posted by cardboard at 6:46 AM on May 29, 2001


After the War of 1812, the then-Canadians were loaded on buses and sent back to the U.K. Canada was re-stocked with new inhabitants, who are the ancestors of the current Canadian population.
posted by websavvy at 7:23 AM on May 29, 2001


Azaroth, what are you talking aboot?
posted by Brilliantcrank at 7:27 AM on May 29, 2001


> Q: What's the collective noun for a group of Canadians?
> A: A smug of Canadians.

"A smug of Canadians" isn't a noun, collective or otherwise. Here's a template for you:

Q: What's the collective noun for a group of Americans?
A: Dolt


But that's a boring little game I don't feel like playing.

> At best, the War of 1812 was a draw.

Yes, but the US president was burned out of the White House! Now that's good fun. He had to sleep on a neighbor's couch until 1817.
posted by pracowity at 8:09 AM on May 29, 2001


Canadian joke:
Q: Why is screwing in a canoe like American beer?
A: They are both fucking close to water.

... best things from Canada ... Labatts

Labatts is shite. We ship our crap south and keep the good stuff for ourselves.
posted by dithered at 8:55 AM on May 29, 2001


actually, i put Labatts down to be nice. I personally hate these discussions.

Holden: So, uh, what do you wanna do tonight?
Banky: Mmm, get a pizza, watch "Degrassi Jr. High."
Holden: You got a weird thing for Canadian melodrama.
Banky: I got a weird thing for girls who say "aboot."
posted by jbelshaw at 9:19 AM on May 29, 2001


I'm Canadian, but the idea that the War of 1812 means soemthing political or moral to anyone anymore is somewhat silly.

Canadians fought for democracy and freedom of the press all through the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. The British colonies that remains loyal to the crown after the American War of Independence had elected assemblies and a form of responsible self-government. The transition to Canadian self-rule was gradual and, for the most part, avoided bloodshed, culminating in the repatriation of the constitution in 1982.

I have met many nice, intelligent Americans who don't seem to know very much about the world. Combine that with a strong sense of pride in their country and some Americans can come off a little arrogent. You can't really blame them to much for that.
posted by tranquileye at 9:26 AM on May 29, 2001


America: Everybody hates us, yet they keep buying our crap.
posted by owillis at 9:38 AM on May 29, 2001


[Newt Gingrich is so Clinton Administration. I suppose that news of current American politics hasn't reached Canada. ]

Why blame Canadians for that? Judging by the amount of times I hear his name most liberals haven't figured out Newt is out of power either. Then I suppose they need a boogeyman too...
posted by revbrian at 9:44 AM on May 29, 2001


The transition to Canadian self-rule was gradual and, for the most part, avoided bloodshed, culminating in the repatriation of the constitution in 1982.

At least our constitution is ratified. How's that Meech lake thing coming? Oh, sorry. Charlottetown? Whoops.
posted by norm at 9:59 AM on May 29, 2001


I have met many nice, intelligent Americans who don't seem to know very much about the world. Combine that with a strong sense of pride in their country and some Americans can come off a little arrogent. You can't really blame them to much for that. [sic]

And you blame them less when you see what they have in terms of broadcast media. My gf was particularly pleased that by the end of her two weeks in the UK, she knew the name of the Lib Dem leader, as well as what was going on in the rest of the world...

America: Everybody hates us, yet they keep buying our crap.

Nah: like the US, we buy our crap from China.
posted by holgate at 10:01 AM on May 29, 2001


You damn Americans are just jealous of our ingenious "Poutine" creation.

That's what the War of 1812 was really all about.
posted by D at 10:15 AM on May 29, 2001


Hi Guys,
Terribly sorry if I came off sounding like a big ol America Hating ranting lunatic. What I was trying to do was add fuel to this little fire and see if anyone would come stamp on it. To my supprise people kept showing up to this party with fuel.

I love it.

However, Im not bashing america per sey, more just being a loud mouth for being a loud mouths sake to prove a point: we can be arrogant too. All of you that brought up facts on Canada being a British colony during the war of 1812, you are fully correct. All I wanted to do was to see if anyone had ever paid attention.

Shucks, ya caught me. But good for you guys, good for all of us. This is the most fun Ive had reading a metafilter link in a few weeks.

And Im really sorry for Shatner and Celine, I swear we are not all like that. :)

I wont say anything on Quebec, because its far to easy an issue to comprehend compared to what is happening to highway signs in Vancouver (I cant speak chinese, can you?).

You are right john, stupidity IS abundant everywhere, and no one has the copyright on it.

And to RylandDotNet: yep, you too are absolutely correct. American media saturation is pretty thick here in canada (even moreso here in Ontario [thats the home of Toronto and Ottawa for those of you unfamiliar with our geography] [Ottawa is the Capital of Canada, in case some of you didnt know that either] )

Mick, your welcome. We love Red Green too (or at least I do, I cant actually speak for anyone else on my side of the worlds largest unguarded boarder)

Oh, and guys, our beer is pretty good, I will admit, but its the fact that typical alcohol percentage here is something like between 3 and 6 percent, but thats nothing compared with asian beer which can be as high as 12 percent! As I hear it Milwaukee and Boston Brew better beer. Ill have to try some when Im living as a temporary American citizen this summer.

Wow. No one gave up the crack aboot canadians saying "eh" at the end of a scentence. Just in case you do, Im going to make the following statement:
(clearing throat)

"Those people are ususally living on the East coast. You will notice the phraze "eh" will be used prominantly on the east coast of both the states and canada.
eg: (halifax) "Im sure your confused by quebeccers, eh?"
(New York City) "Eh bucko, dont walk away, Im talkin' here!"

Thanks for playing the canada game. Just remember as much as you poke fun at us, our own comics zing us twice as hard. Now you can forget aboot us again for a few more months eh?
posted by Azaroth at 10:33 AM on May 29, 2001


I think we are influenced by TV a bit too much. At least something has to make people want to have such gross generalizations: "Those USians! Those canadians! Those people with half a brain that visit MeFi!

You damn Americans are just jealous of our ingenious "Poutine" creation.
Oh yeah! Well we have scrapple! Also, isn't it true that we are all Americans?

"Yeah, and their beer sucks...." - Canadian Bacon
posted by samsara at 10:35 AM on May 29, 2001


"Canadians are just like Americans, except without the guns." -- KITH
posted by jennak at 11:07 AM on May 29, 2001


Norm, I'm not sure what your point is. The Canadian constitution was ratified, but like any constitution, it is a living document that people would like to change in various ways.
posted by tranquileye at 11:26 AM on May 29, 2001


Canadian Q&A

Q: What was number 1 in Canada when "Wake Up Little Suzie" was number 1 in the United States?
A: Who knows? But six weeks later it was "Wake Up Little Suzie."

--Bruce McCall (bitch at him, he's Canadian)
posted by rodii at 11:27 AM on May 29, 2001


re: Dubya accepting the endorsement of Jean 'Poutine'

I believe (and someone please correct me if I'm wrong) it is a major foreign policy gaffe for the leader of another country to formally endorse (indirect endorsements seem to happen all the time, but that's another issue) a political candidate preceeding an election...

so...had the Canadian Prime Minister endorsed Dubya, it would have been rather diplomatically incorrect. However, Dubya, in accepting this endorsement, was equally incorrect....

I guess my point is the "poutine" part of the gag (which, admittedly, I found rather humourous) is not the only part of the gag which indicates Dubya is dim...
posted by lumiere at 11:48 AM on May 29, 2001


What my point is? Well, Quebec didn't participate in your constitutional patriation, and thus your constitution isn't ratified by many people's interpretation. That's why you had the Meech Lake and Charlottetown agreements, which were designed to overcome this little "problem." From the link, quote dated after the collapse of the Meech Lake accord:

"The Prime Minister stated that much of the consensus Canadians had developed on what constituted Canada and where the country should go had dissipated, and that Canada was running the risk of fracturing along linguistic and regional fault lines."

All I'm saying is that at least our union isn't threatened and we have a constitution that all our states recognize.
posted by norm at 12:41 PM on May 29, 2001


All I'm saying is that at least our union isn't threatened and we have a constitution that all our states recognize.

However, melding different groups into one country takes time (especially if the two groups have differences of opinion.) The Mason-Dixon line is proof positive of this. We've been working on this Canada thing for less than two centuries. Our growing pains are just showing up a bit later than they did in the US.
posted by iceberg273 at 1:15 PM on May 29, 2001


Norm, as I said, a constitution is a living document. Not everyone is going to agree with all aspects of it, and some people will suggest changes. That's governance; that's how it works. There is always a tension. The fact that Quebec didn't sign the 1982 constitution was a problem then and a problem now. But the United States had to engage in a civil war to settle such fundamental issues; the southern states never "agreed" to the 13th amendment to the constitution, did they?
posted by tranquileye at 2:09 PM on May 29, 2001


eh! margeret troudeau....nuff said!

oh, they have some dyanamite cheese, and fireworks too. and canadian bacon. yes they do.

and the best toffee...(macantosh) in the world.

and they have non-prescription asperin with two grains of codeine in it. that stuff will dull the pain.

as a former buffalonian, i love canada, and the peace bridge, and lake erie, and toronto....so there!
posted by billybob at 2:55 PM on May 29, 2001


I don't know what the hub-bub about Canada is, we kicked their ass in Vietnam!
posted by Brilliantcrank at 3:12 PM on May 29, 2001


I have a few words to say about stupid Americans:

Buster Keaton
Mark Twain
H.L. Mencken
Thomas Pynchon
Ralph Nader
John F. Kennedy
Groucho Marx
Eleanor Roosevelt
Martin Luther King
James Baldwin
Herman Melville
Maya Angelou
Stanley Kubrick
Tom Waits
William Gaddis
Eli Whitney
Thomas Edison
Henry David Thoreau
Allen Ginsberg
Philip K. Dick

And many more...
posted by ed at 4:44 PM on May 29, 2001


buy some 2-2-2's if you ever get to Canadia.

2 parts codeine
2 parts caffeine
2 parts aspirin

breakfast of champions before, during and after rugby games. or as a precursor to a memorable(if lucky) night on the town.
posted by donkeysuck at 4:45 PM on May 29, 2001


If we're exporting our ignorance, we're not exporting it anywhere near fast enough, because there's still plenty of it within our own borders.
posted by kindall at 4:58 PM on May 29, 2001


Curiously enough, from that list I can tell you that today is also JFK's b-day. You put James Baldwin in there as a joke, right?
posted by john at 7:54 PM on May 29, 2001


What, Baldwin's not a great American? Got beef with Jimmy, then?
posted by allaboutgeorge at 1:47 AM on May 30, 2001


Azaroth, next time you decide to drape yourself in our flag and try to defend Canadians as a group, please be aware that not all of us consider Molson Canadian commercials to be the epitomy of patriotism.
posted by cCranium at 5:59 AM on May 30, 2001


Rick Mercer refuses Gemini nomination for Talking to Americans
"Mercer says that while he is honoured by the nominations, he feels this isn't the time to poke fun at the differences between Canada and the United States."
posted by todd at 3:11 PM on September 19, 2001


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