Scarborough, Ont.-born Gerry Dee told 900 CHML’s Good Morning Hamilton his first open mic night at a Yuk Yuk’s comedy club in the late ’90s was “the worst imaginable bomb” amid a musical number.
“They forgot to play the (music) tape, and I was sweating,” Dee recalled.
“It was five minutes. It felt like an hour. It was terrible.”
Dee said it was his competitive nature that drew him back to the stage, concluding debacle couldn’t be the end of his journey.
“That can’t be how it ends,” Dee said.
“Like I at least got to have some remote laughter. I have to get something out of this.”
The former physical education teacher and hockey coach proceeded to moonlighting as a comic, keeping his day job and working clubs at times for free, eventually landing a consistent weekend gig and victory at Toronto’s Funniest New Comic competition in 1999.
“You’re always striving to get better. My third set when I started, I got a laugh and that was it,” said Dee.
“Once I made a couple of hundred people in a room laugh at something … that feeling was what drove me back for sure.”
His success would land him a run on the Last Comic Standing, his own comedy special on The Comedy Network, and in 2006 a part in the Trailer Park Boys movie.
After picking up a 2008 Canadian Comedy Award for Best Male Stand-Up, Dee would land the starring role in the CBC sitcom Mr. D in 2012 before securing his latest steady gig, host of Family Feud Canada in 2019.
The game show emcee is set to hit the stage at First Ontario concert hall for his ‘Alone. On a Stage” show Thursday night. Tickets are still available for purchase online.
He says the engagement will be an updated version of his traditional stand-up mixed in with some “new stuff.”
Dee, married and a father of three, has shared screen time on his sitcom with his two daughters Alyce and Faith who had recurring roles on the show as Amanda-Susan and Faith.
His son, Breton, appeared one time in the series finale.
Despite that, Dee says he’s not really sure his youngest actually knows what he does for a living.
“I don’t even know if my son knows what I do,” said Dee.
“He’s nine and I just go out the door and say ‘I’m going to work.’ He couldn’t care less.”