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Don’t let this comedian drive your combine

Rick Mercer rolls into Round Hill at harvest time

Most farmers just go about their harvest days combining by themselves, alone in the cab.

But that goes out the window when CBC TV star Rick Mercer shows up.

“They had about three or four cameras all over the combine, and a drone with a camera on it taking pictures,” said Round Hill producer Humphrey Banack. “We got some really fantastic shots of harvest, with the three combines coming down the field one right behind each other. They got some really nice shots of harvest that we’ll keep and use. It turned out well.”

They also got some shots of what happens when you let a comedian turn off auto steer and run the combine through a wheat field.

“When your father sees the track I’ve made will he be able to tell I was driving?” Mercer asks Nick Banack after he allowed the TV star to take the wheel.

Rick Mercer's combine combine driving skills were a hard act to follow.

Rick Mercer’s combine combine driving skills were a hard act to follow.
photo: Rick Mercer Report

“Absolutely,” deadpans Nick as a drone shot reveals the wildly zigzagging path through the field.

Mercer also slides down a 25,000-bushel wheat pile and makes “grain angels” with Banack’s nephews, who stayed home from school to take in the action.

The Rick Mercer Report crew came out on the first day of fall and while the Banack family gave up about 10 hours of combining time to participate in the filming, it was well worth it, said Humphrey Banack.

“When he left here, I think we had impressed him with some knowledge of agriculture that he didn’t have before,” said the vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. “For me and my family, we consider that to be a success. Being on TV was a secondary thing.”

Comedian Rick Mercer playing in a pile of grain

Rick Mercer makes ‘grain angels’ with Tim (l) and Daniel Banack.
photo: Rick Mercer Report

The CFA suggested the Banacks when contacted by the show, and Mercer was interested in the details of what it takes to run a family farm.

“It was as much a learning experience for him as anything,” said Banack. “We also had some handouts for him on what you can use wheat for, and what you can use barley for. We tried to provide as much information for him as we could.”

His family also learned a bit about making a TV show, he added, citing the work that went into setting up the shot of the harvest supper out in the field prepared by Banack’s mother-in-law Donna Kennedy.

“It was interesting, because the TV crew needed everyone in the right place. They needed the sun right, the picture right, and the combine behind it right. We had to move the table four times,” he said. “We spent more time setting up than eating.”

The eight-minute segment, which aired in late October, can be found here at cbc.ca/mercerreport.

About the author

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Alexis Kienlen

Alexis Kienlen lives in Edmonton and has been writing for Alberta Farmer since 2008. Originally from Saskatoon, she has also published two collections of poetry and a biography about a Sikh civil rights activist. Her freelance work has appeared in numerous publications across Canada.

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