It's hard to find clean comics these days; harder still to find ones who are actually funny. Gerry Dee, a scratchy-voiced former schoolteacher, is one of the best. There's an affability about the guy that's always refreshing, whether he's regaling you with stories of his ex-students or contrasting the behaviour of single men and women.
In increasing demand as an actor (Trailer Park Boys: The Movie), Dee brings his act to Yuk Yuk's this week and next, at the Downtown club tonight (March 15), Mississauga on March 22 and Ajax on March 25. See Comedy listings or gerrydee.com for details.
I thought you were living in L.A. When did you come back?
The start of 2005. I still go down about twice a year, but I wasn't making any money there. I was a regular at the clubs, but being a regular there means you get five minutes every three weeks. Acting was a huge grind, and I got a couple of good parts up here.
You made a brief appearance in last season's Last Comic Standing. Good or bad?
I try to take the good out of everything. I think (fellow Toronto comic) Nikki Payne and I deserved to move on. Viewers didn't see our whole sets. Nikki blew the roof off, and I had a really good set. Who knows why they didn't take me? Maybe they knew I was getting married that summer, maybe it was because I was Canadian. I'll try it once more and see if they move me on. But it was great exposure.
Do you have any blue material?
I've never felt that what goes on in my bedroom is funny to anyone. It's just my nature. I started doing a joke recently and found it really hard to say "fuck off" onstage. I swear in real life. It's not like I'm squeaky-clean. I just don't feel comfortable onstage. People are starting to see me now because they know it's going to be clean. I've got 14-year-olds coming with their parents.
Clean comedy's good for corporate gigs. Are you rolling in cash?
It's starting to pick up, but it's not like you have a corporate gig every night. Some months I might do six nights of corporate work. There are so few clean comics, corporations don't have many to draw from. Jason Rouse and Mike Wilmot are two of my favourite comics, but they know they're not going to do corporate work. Or if they do, it'll be their first and last time.
How do you deal with comedy groupies?
A hockey buddy of mine came to my show and asked me that the other day. They're called Puck Bunnies in hockey, Lacrostitutes in lacrosse. I don't think there's a name for them in comedy. In my act, I talk about being married and expecting a kid, so no one's coming up to me. They'd have to be really optimistic if they were.
Additional Interview Audio Clips
Gerry Dee on how the internet's affected his comedy