Writing World: Edward Riche

Award-winning author and screenwriter Edward Riche unleashes hilarity with his latest published work


Renowned local author Edward Riche is the first to admit that we Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have had quite the go of it. It’s no deep-buried covert secret. From not so prosperous times, to the haves becoming have-nots and those other times so blurred into memory that we can sparsely recall what they looked like. And that is only recent years!

So it goes without saying that us Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have made an art out of looking at the bright side. If we can’t laugh at ourselves, well by god we’d cry an ocean.

“Ultimately, humour is a coping mechanism – if you don’t laugh you’d cry kinda thing,” says Riche from his current residence in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. “I think given the hardships we face, political, economic, climatic, we live in a very rough place. We’re stuck right out in one of the most miserable and dangerous seas in the world and we live right up against it because we chose to be here, or our ancestors did. They wanted to be as close as they could to that sea, and they pitched some shacks on the side of cliffs so they could access the fish beneath those waves. We have, for those reasons, learned how to manage life here.”

Bag of Hammers

Laughter and the not-so-subtle act of satire is the subject of Riche’s latest publication Bag of Hammers. The series of articles and essays published everywhere from The Globe and Mail to The Walrus and to more local publications cover a wide swaft of pokeable topics.

From spotlighting the most boring town in Eastern Canada, to a crash course on how a government can most efficiently mismanage prosperity, and of course a few pokes at our own political and economic woes (looking at you Muskrat Falls!), the collection is timely, unapologetic and above all, hilarious.

The award-winning author and screenwriter of Rare Birds, The Nine Planets and Today I Learned It Was You has had the opportunity to ply his trade for outlets across the nation. He’s as qualified as any to assess just how those up-on-the-mainland access and view the comedic inclinations of our very own.

Sophisticated Comedy

“They underestimate the range of comedy, and the sophistication of comedy, that comes from Newfoundland. They respond to it in the kind of way where it’s like, look at those comical yokels. But if you go back to Ray Guy and the CODCO stuff, some of that was incredibly sophisticated,” Riche says, though he is quick to point out that there is certainly appreciation for Newfoundland comedy by our fellow Canadians.

“I think Canada has a profound appreciation for Newfoundland humour through the success of Rick Mercer, Mark Critch, Majumder and these guys. Canada really does love it, but I sometimes wonder if they don’t really get its depth.”

Riche himself has seemingly found the better side of his bread buttered when it comes to comedy. Indeed, looking at the jacket of Bag of Hammers, Newfoundland’s satire-king himself Rick Mercer calls Riche “a very funny man.” High praise from the rant-master himself.

“I think (comedy) is a strength of mine,” Riche says. “My wife has always said that if I’m working on something that’s not comedy, or is dramatic, that there’s a greater need for comedy than there is for serious drama. Focus on that for god’s sake, we need more comedy if anything. It’s always been something that’s been a focus of mine and a strength of mine.”

Riche’s 2018 will include the progression of various projects he brought with him from St. John’s to Labrador. One particular emphasis of inspiration will come in the form of a novel that will be deeply rooted in Labrador itself, but that’s a conversation for another time.

Returning to comedy as an outlet, Riche muses that us Newfoundlanders perhaps need it now more than ever.

“Comedy may be about that which you can’t control. That’s an interesting notion. It’s a response to powerlessness or having power seized from you.”

Bag of Hammers is available now wherever local books are sold. For more on Edward Riche visit breakwaterbooks.com

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