Mr. D earns high marks for comedy career


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There's a very long distance, intellectually speaking, between TV's inept and politically incorrect Mr. D and the actor/comedian that plays him.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 11/12/2014 (3097 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

There’s a very long distance, intellectually speaking, between TV’s inept and politically incorrect Mr. D and the actor/comedian that plays him.

The sitcom character remains forever blissfully unaware of how chronically wrong-headed he is; Gerry Dee, who created Mr. D (as well as another amiably addled alter-ego, Gerry Dee: Sports Reporter), is a man very much in control of his intellect and completely sure of where he’s headed.

“There are sort of three parts to my world,” explains the former schoolteacher, whose first big showbiz break came in the form of a third-place finish in Season 5 of NBC’s Last Comic Standing in 2007. “There’s Gerry Donoghue, which is my birth name and is my real life, which I’ve spent as a husband and a father and a normal guy who lives like everyone else; then there’s Gerry Dee, the comedian, who gets onstage and talks about his family and his world and is kind of exaggerated at times; and then there’s the character (Mr. D), which is an exaggerated take on my teaching career.

Gerry Dee Brings The Real Mr. D tour to Winnipeg Friday.

“There are these three parts to my life, and I’m constantly in and out of each of them.”

The first of those personas — real-life Gerry — brings the second to Winnipeg this week when his The Real Mr. D Tour hits the stage at the Burton Cummings Theatre on Friday, Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m. (limited tickets are still available for $48 and $53 at Ticketmaster).

Dee, 45, remains one of the few comedians currently working in Canada who is capable of regularly touring the country and filling theatrical venues.

He’s the first to admit this isn’t necessarily because he’s the funniest guy out there (“Most of my standup is just me trying to find the humour in my life,” he offers. “My comedy isn’t anything outside the box; it isn’t like, ‘Wow, this guy’s brilliant!’ and I know that”); rather, his success on the soft-seater circuit is a result of having figured out both ends of the “show business” equation — he possesses the talent necessary to put on a great comedy show, and he has worked hard at cultivating the business side of his career.

“I came into Mr. D after doing Last Comic, with a little bit of Canadian recognition, which, as you know, is pretty rare for a standup comic. I mean, most people in this country don’t know who Mike Wilmot is, or who Derek Edwards is, and they’re brilliant. How crazy is that?” he says.

“It isn’t the funniest people who end up on TV; it’s a whole package of things: your business skills, your acting skills, it’s everything. I don’t know what other people’s goals are; what interested me was doing a sitcom based on my life, and I was always very driven toward that, from the first day I started doing standup. I was always very ambitious; when I first started (comedy) at age 30, everyone said, ‘You’re too old to start. At 30? Are you crazy?’ And I just didn’t listen to them. And what was always at the end of that road, for me, was this show.”

As it heads into its fourth season on CBC (premiering Jan. 20), Mr. D is not just the engine that drives Dee’s multi-faceted career; the successful sitcom has also provided a launching pad for other cast members such as Mark Forward, Mark Little and Darrin Rose, whose standup-comedy careers have taken off since Mr. D’s debut in January 2012.

“Look, we just hired people we thought were funny,” says Dee, deflecting the suggestion he deserves credit for advancing his co-stars’ careers. “These people are funny and talented, and that’s what makes the show. I believe you should get funny people and let them act, rather than getting actors and trying to make them be funny. That’s just our way of doing this.

“They’re helping me, too. A show doesn’t work with just one lead character. I knew that after our third season, our cast would all start to get recognized. Is it pride? No. I’m just happy for them; I’m happy that we’ve created a show that’s a springboard for them to get noticed. They’re all very talented and they’re all working on their own things now, and they will all be successful.” Twitter: @BradOswald

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Brad Oswald

Brad Oswald
Perspectives editor

After three decades spent writing stories, columns and opinion pieces about television, comedy and other pop-culture topics in the paper’s entertainment section, Brad Oswald shifted his focus to the deep-thoughts portion of the Free Press’s daily operation.


Updated on Thursday, December 11, 2014 6:37 AM CST: Changes photo

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