Day 77: Funny People (Stephenville Crossing – Deer Lake)

July 25, 2014

Tired. Just bone tired would sum the day up well, leaving little room for interesting though, much less writing. The drizzle thankfully let up quickly this morning but it remained overcast until I set my tent up for the night. What exhausted me were the friecesome hills that began this morning. Those gentle slopes and rolling hills of yesterday didn’t return until late in the day. Climbing is obiously nothing new but I’m starting to hold my breath for the end, which makes them so troublesome. For the first time I can recall on this trip, setting up the tent and all that follows seemed like such an undesirable chore. As unbelievable as it may seem, those roadside motels beckon like havens of luxury to me at this point. There’s something to be said for pulling back the sheets and sliding in instead of blowing up your bed and awkwardly backing into your tent.

A difficult climb makes for a picturesque road
A difficult climb makes for a picturesque road

So in today’s post, I’d like to pay tribute to the comedians of Newfoundland. The connection from my day to comedy may seem a stretch but there’s no better way help make the unbearable more bearable. There’s an interview somewhere with Mary Walsh, Newfoundland comedian best known for the news satire show “This Hour Has 22 Minutes”, in which she talks about why Newfoundland had produced so many of Canada’s funny people and entertainers generally. Life in fishing communities is hard with limited creaturely comforts. She talks about the hard life she personally had growing up and how it shaped her to become an entertainer. I know some of the funniest stories we’d tell in our family were about the hard times but with the right choice of words and intonation, they’re just hilarious. In this sense, comedy is an important way of processing the life that happens to us.

“22 Minutes” then isn’t just a Newfoundland created show with local talent but is reflective of the province’s position in Canada. Already an outsider politically, only joining confederation in 1949, and geographically isolated, Newfoundland is more often the brunt of a joke than taken seriously. With limited economic resources beyond the troubled fisheries, it was long a ‘have-not’ province; part of the taxes the federal government collects are redistributed to provinces with lower economic performance in what are called equalization payments, hence ‘have-not.’ Newfoundland and Labradors fortunes have recently improved with offshore oil but that’s another story. So not taken seriously and largely outside the halls of power, it is so much easier to see the comedy in the news. All these bigwigs talking so earnestly as if all the world depends on them when what they are going on about will offer you no help, why not laugh? Or to put it differently, the comedy is so much more obvious.

My favorite Mary Walsh character is Marg, Princess Warrior who is tireless in confronting people in power and offering advice. Her latest run in was with the now infamous Rob Ford. Check her out. And if you didn’t catch it in the news, her fellow actor and Newfoundlander Rick Mercer just got the Order of Canada.

The open plains at the top are pretty and full of moose if tracks are any indicator
The open plains at the top are pretty and full of moose if tracks are any indicator

Road Report: 137

The only thing to add is that the hilly bits also have that infernal rumble strip with lots of gravel on the shoulder so all around a ‘pleasant ride’.

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