SURREY — Gerry Dee could probably teach a course about making it in the world of comedy.
On TV, he’s best known as the star of “Mr. D,” the fifth-season CBC sitcom about a slightly bemused high school teacher.
In real life, he’s a business-savvy Torontonian who, on a whim at age 30, left teaching to do comedy. The career move currently has Dee travelling Canada as host of another Just For Laughs fall tour that stops at Surrey’s Bell Performing Arts Centre on Thursday, Nov. 12.
In a phone interview with the Now, Dee said it was his business smarts that landed him a TV series, with some luck along the way.
“It’s called show business and I was very driven on the business side from day one – always promoting, always pitching,” he reasoned.
He sees a lot of comics “sitting on the couch” waiting for a call that may never come.
“I was never that type,” Dee underlined. “I was never one to shy away from the obvious fact that I was trying to make money, too. Some artists say, ‘It’s not the money, Gerry, you get to perform’ – no, not for me, it’s both. I grew up with no money, and my parents had no money, so maybe that’s why I was motivated from day one to try to do both.”
One day, Dee may write about the subject in a second book; his first was called “Teaching: It’s Harder Than it Looks,” a national bestseller first printed in 2012.
“The first (book) was very light and anecdotal about teaching, but the second one could be about how I got where I got, the stories of that,” suggested Dee, named Gerard Francis Donoghue at birth.
“I don’t know how exciting that is for people, but it’s rare in Canada to be a name, you know, and anyone who is, is very fortunate. I think that’s an interesting story for others to look at, about perseverance and belief, because I heard as many no’s as anyone else in the industry.”
Dee is working the current Just For Laughs tour with featured performers Cristela Alonzo, Robert Kelly and Graham Chittenden. This year’s tour features “a relationship theme that encompasses family, love (or the lack thereof) and all the nonsense in between.” Tickets for the show in Surrey can be purchased via Comedytour.hahaha.com and 1-855-985-5000.
Also this fall, Dee is writing material for a sixth season of “Mr. D” – “it’s not green-lit yet,” he cautioned – and is continuing development work on “My Scottish Family,” a second sitcom.
The recently-wrapped fifth season of “Mr. D,” meanwhile, will run for 13 weeks on CBC starting Tuesday, Jan. 19.
“We’re still at it with ‘Mr. D’ and I think in Season 4 it just started to get going. I think it’s at its peak and is still peaking, really, so that’s my focus but I’m starting work on ‘My Scottish Family’ because ‘Mr. D’ will come to an end at some point, whether it’s my choice or the network’s choice. It will end, that’s inevitable.”