An Embarrassment of Critches

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: Michelle Good
Genres: Humour, Non-fiction, Memoir
Pub. Date: Oct. 2021 (read Nov. 2021 on Audible)

I read Mark’s first book last year as an audiobook. It was a bit of an impulse buy when I was doing a bunch of jigsaw puzzles and looking for some humour to get me through the pandemic. It was funny and I really enjoyed it. You could tell the stories were embellished, but Mark is an excellent storyteller so it didn’t bother me. 

I was more excited to read An Embarrassment of Critch’s and quickly bought a copy on Audible when it was released. Mark narrates both books and I highly recommend doing the audio for this reason. I love all the different voices and accents he uses throughout the book and it made me nostalgic for Newfoundland. 

In my opinion, this book is the perfect companion book to Son of a Critch and I kind of see it as an extension of his first book. I know his first book is centered on his childhood, but when I finished it last year, my one complaint was that I wanted to read more about how he got into comedy and his time on 22 Minutes. That is exactly what An Embarrassment of Critch’s delivers and I had a lot of fun reading it.

I’m currently reading Rick Mercer’s new book as well and it’s really hard not to compare the two. In terms of laughs, I would give the edge to Mark Critch, but there’s more of a sincerity to Rick’s memoir that I thought was missing from Mark’s. I think this is totally fine since the primary intent of Mark’s work is humour and storytelling, but he does tackle several more serious topics as well. While he tries to reflect and be contemplative about his experiences (thinking mostly of his recount of traveling to Afghanistan), I couldn’t help but think his recollections were somewhat surficial and portrayed through rose-tinted glasses. In some ways his essay selection reads more like a checklist of his accomplishments rather than a reflective look-back on his career. Although, he does talk about some of his mistakes over the years, but I felt like his exploration of these errors in judgement were included as more of a PR move rather than any meaningful contrition about them.

But really these are minor complaints. I enjoy his comedy and love watching his impressions and sketches on 22 Minutes. He is an excellent storyteller and I can pretty much guarantee I’ll be picking up any future books he may decide to write!

Son of a Critch

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Author: Mark Critch
Genres: Memoir, Humour
Pub. date: Oct. 2018 (read Jun. 2018 on Audible)

I went on a little bit of a Newfoundland binge back in June, listening to both Son of Critch and Rick Mercer Final Report back to back on Audible. For my blog readers, Newfoundland is an island located on the far east coast of Canada. It was the last province to join Canada and its influence from the English and Irish have left the island with a very distinct sense of culture and place. I grew up in Newfoundland and so it has a huge place in my heart.

Mark Critch is a Canadian and Newfoundland comedian well known from the Canadian comedy show, This Hour Has 22 Minutes. I consider him a bit of a Newfoundland icon and always get a kick out of his comedy. I was drawn to the audiobook because it’s narrated by Mark and I was looking for something light to read during the pandemic.

If you’re looking for an account of how Mark got into comedy, you won’t find it here, likewise if you’re looking for a highly accurate memoir of his childhood, I don’t really think this is it. But if you’re looking to have a laugh at some truly wonderful storytelling, then you’ve found what you’re looking for. As the name suggests, “a childish Newfoundland memoir”, the book is heavily focused on Mark’s childhood. He talks a lot about growing up on Kenmount Road before it was the booming metropolis that we know today and the struggles he had with always getting into mischief at Catholic school and with his highly Catholic (and nosey) mother.

St. John’s did away with it’s heavily religious school system when I was in the third grade, so I couldn’t really relate, but I definitely think it captured a lot of what it was like growing up in St. John’s at that time and a lot of what it’s quintessentially like growing up in Newfoundland in general. I questioned the authenticity of a lot of Mark’s stories because he was so young in many of them that I doubted he could actually recall very much from that time, but every story made me laugh out loud, so I was able to overlook it.

I suspect there’s a bit more in this book for Newfoundlanders to enjoy than your average reader, but there’s so much hilarity packed in here that I do think anyone can enjoy! I would still love to read another memoir about how Mark got into comedy and all the cool people he’s worked with over the years, but I can wait. Definitely recommend this if you want a laugh.