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"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 is a political satire show set up as a a fake news show. The title comes from a controversial weekly Canadian news show called "This Hour has Seven Days". 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?""We're 22 Minutes. We're like the news, but drunk."
-- Peter Fonda
—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, 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 current influence of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report on the American scene: as an example, at 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's segment in which he announced 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 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.
"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 irreverant 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 four cast members is popular, and few politicians 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.
"Well, that's the way we saw the world this week."—Rick Mercer
This show provides examples of:
- Auto Cannibalism: In one fake campaign commercial, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper cuts himself so he can collect and drink his own blood.
- B Roll Rebus: Parodied by having Nathan Fielder take an object out of his coat that matches each noun.
- Canadian Accents: Specifically, heavy Maritime or Newfoundland accents; the production company is in Halifax, and the original four were all from Newfoundland.
- 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.
- 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.
- Gossipy Hens: The Misses Enid and Eulalia.
- Karma Houdini: Somehow, former Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard managed to become the only politician ever to effectively escape the clutches of Marg, Princess Warrior.
- Lovable Sex Maniac: All of Geri Hall's characters.
- Media Scrum
- 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
- Refuge in Audacity: Interviewing politicians in a Xena: Warrior Princess-knockoff costume. If that's not audacity...
- Running Time in the Title
- 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.
- Sketch Comedy