Son of a…

I think it’s probably fair to say that Mark Critch is a bit of a Canadian institution.

And, as Canadian institutions go, that means either socialized medicine or comedy. In this case, it’s the latter.

For 18 years, Mark’s hilariously irreverent turns as anchor and roving reporter for CBC’s satirical news send-up This Hour Has 22 Minutes have brought laughter to livingrooms all over the world. He’s been a part of Canada’s Just for Laughs comedy series and the host of Ha!ifax ComedyFest.

And if you’ve watched him in action, you’ll know it’s probably fair to assume that he likely had an interesting childhood.

  • Title: Son of a Critch: A Childish Newfoundland Memoir.
  • Author: Mark Critch
  • Published: 2018
  • Cover Designer: Leah Springate
  • Who is it for? Fans of Canadian comedy; anyone interested in a peek into a life spent growing up in 1980’s Newfoundland

And you’d be right.

Luckily for us, Mark decided to share his childhood stories in his 2018 memoir Son of a Critch: A Childish Newfoundland Memoir.

The book traces Mark’s childhood, from his pre-kindergarten years through to grade 9, and–with a skill that seems to define good comedians–finds the humour even in the most heartbreaking situations. If we humans are the sum of our stories, then it’s not hard to see how Mark became the comedian we know today.

And while some of these stories are funny–really funny–others include bullying, loss and grief, humiliation and trauma. It takes a certain sense of humour to be able to go on this journey with the young Critch and truly appreciate the wackiness of it all.

From a technical standpoint, there a few spots where he wanders off on a bit of a tangent and it takes you out of the story for a moment and occasionally, a funny riff goes just that little bit long and the humour in it fades a little. But neither of these things take away from a delightfully funny book.

My reader brain struggled with the voice–especially in the early parts of Mark’s childhood. When we look back on our childhoods, we tend to do so from an adult perspective, and that perspective is altered by a life’s worth of experiences. So maybe it’s impossible to reflect on the thoughts and feelings you had when you were four or five years old from the same viewpoint of that four- or five-year-old. As I was reading, there were a few places where young Mark’s thoughts and experiences were being filtered and embellished so much by adult Mark that it felt oddly out of sync. But that being said, maybe that’s what makes the comedy work.

And it does work.

This is a good read. It’s funny and tremendously heartfelt. I laughed out loud in places, and was teary in others.

If you’re keen to experience an ’80s Newfoundland childhood through the eyes (and heart) of one of Canada’s great comedians, give this memoir a go.

For more, check out the TV adaptation of Son of a Critch, created by Mark Critch and Tim McAuliffe. Season one landed on January 4, 2022, and new episodes air on Tuesday nights on CBC. Check it out here!)