“I’m Pierre Berton and that’s how to roll a joint,” said the late Canadian author as he signed off from what would be his last television appearance and what should be an unofficial Heritage Minute.
In a segment that aired yesterday (January 6), the old friends chatted for the first time on screen since Mercer stepped away from his award-winning show, The Rick Mercer Report. The fifteen-season series ended in April of last year.
Not allowing a major moment in the country’s political history to go un-Mercered, Barton probes the comedian for his thoughts on the recent federal legalization of cannabis.
“I find it amazing that nothing happened. It’s just amazing. Nothing happened,” he says, recounting a recent incident at a Canadian airport in which the man in front of him unabashedly plopped a baggie of weed on the tray during a security screening. And, spoiler alert, no one got arrested.
“I kind of equate it to finally getting air conditioning. People say: ‘We should have done this 15 years ago. This is fantastic!’”
Then, the interview cuts back to a truly Canadian moment in television history—an early segment of The Mercer Report in which Berton teaches viewers how to roll a joint.
“It’s one of my favourite stories and it’s one of my favourite moments of my life because I got to meet Pierre Berton,” Mercer says. A lifelong fan of the writer, he says the experience was a “real thrill” and reveals that Berton was—no surprise—really freaking cool.
The video, which originally aired during the first season of The Mercer Report on October 18, 2004, is a two-minute comedic sketch in which Berton instructs Canadians how to roll a “coner”—or cone-shaped joint—on a copy of his book Prisoners of the North.
Not only was Berton excited to film the clip, but he was adamant about working with real weed, saying to Mercer: “I am not going on CBC and rolling oregano, I’ll look like a fool.”
“The first thing Pierre Berton said to me when I went to his house was: ‘did you bring the weed?’ and the last thing he said to me was: ‘leave the weed’,” says Mercer during the interview.
Berton passed away later that year, but the clip left the country with some lasting words of wisdom: “Remember Canada, it’s the loose joints that tend to fall apart, leaving unsightly toke burns on your chair or on your bow tie. It’s a tragedy we all want to avoid, don’t we?”
Watch the full interview on CBC.