Gerry Dee is a man of many talents. He developed and stars in his own CBC-TV show, Mr. D. He's taking his stand-up comedy on tour. And last year, he wrote his first book, Teaching: It's Harder Than It Looks. But all these talents have one thing in common: they all draw from or are inspired by Dee's experiences as a real teacher.
Before he entered the entertainment world, Dee was stuck in a classroom, teaching students history and geography. While Dee believes he was "a good teacher," he knew it wasn't the right place for him. "I didn't know that subject matter," Dee admitted to George Stroumboulopoulos in a recent interview. "I was a phys-ed guy teaching the wrong subjects." Dee made up for it where he could, coaching sports teams and volunteering for school dances and field trips. "I think I was really good after three [o'clock]," he said. And this made sense to him, as it's what he enjoyed the most about school when he was a student himself.
The other aspect of school he enjoyed as a student was interacting with his teachers. "I don't remember one day from my high school years where I left class thinking 'Boy, that math lesson, I'll never forget...' No. I remember stories and teachers coming in hung over and telling us about their weekend." So this became the backbone of Dee's own approach to teaching. "I became that guy. Was I the best on an academic scale? No. But was I good and caring."
Being a student was also when Dee learned about the power of comedy. But he didn't learn that from a teacher -- he learned it from his father. "I was five feet tall in grade 10. I was small," Dee said. Instead of letting the taunting get to him, he learned how to deal with it differently. "My dad always said that if someone makes fun of you, you laugh and agree with them. It was the best trick ever."
That trick has gone from coping mechanism to career for Dee, and it's a path he couldn't be happier about. "I'm very fortunate, very lucky in this business to have what I have," he said. "I count my blessings every day."