Winnipeg comedian reluctantly marries man so they can both get on with their lives

A Winnipeg comic duo is in love but was split over whether to get hitched, so they made the totally reasonable decision to put the question to a crowd of strangers that made the decision for them.

Comedians Tim Gray, Dana Smith get hitched on stage after heated debate for CBC's The Debaters

Dana Smith and Tim Gray recently got married after battling over whether or not to do it on CBC's The Debaters. Pictured on Dana's hand: one of the 'seven-for-$10' rings the couple bought at a mall jewellery store. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

A Winnipeg comic duo is in love but was split over whether to get hitched, so they made the totally reasonable decision to put the question to a crowd of strangers that made the decision for them.

Tim Gray and Dana Smith got married on stage after a heated debate on CBC's The Debaters at Club Regent Casino Sunday. The event was part of the Winnipeg Comedy Festival.

Tim argued the two should get married, while Dana argued against. The audience found Tim's argument and tuxedo more compelling, and now the happy newlyweds get to argue for the rest of their lives.

"They loved it," Tim said.

The pair has been doing comedy for nearly 15 years between them and started dating seven years ago.

A boozy rejection

Tim casually broached the topic of marriage for the first time a couple years ago.

"I was sort of, 'Hey Dana, you wanna get married ever? And she was like, 'Nope.' And I was like, 'OK, well we'll see about that.'"

He tried again by trying to surprise Dana in Paris, where she was on a trip with some friends. Tim caught a flight to France, crashed Dana's trip and everyone had a great time on that first day. But Tim had a little too much fun before he popped the question.

"I was having too much French wine," Tim said, recalling his boozy second attempt at proposing.

"I think the first thing that I said was, 'I think I am going to throw up,'" Dana laughed.

Dana Smith and Tim Gray attend a wedding in 2014, which is as close as Dana ever wanted to get to marriage. (Dana Smith/Facebook)

It wasn't like the two didn't have every intention of spending the rest of their lives together — Tim says "that was pretty much a lock almost from Day 1."

But both say they didn't want to just be "indefinitely engaged," rush into any big public displays or have to deal with the flurry of congratulations and recommendations that would inevitably flow in from family and friends.

"I think the worst part about getting married is talking about it, and the expectations, and people get mad at you, and you get mad at people. Like, there's just a whole lot of stress that I just wanted to avoid. And a lot of money," Dana said.

"I don't really like the word wife either."

Early signs crowd biased, pro-marriage

In Dana's view, Tim kept relentlessly asking her to get married, so she agreed to battle it out on The Debaters once and for all.

When the pair walked out onto the stage, the crowd cheered — much louder for Tim though. That worried Dana. Deeply.

"The second that he walked out in his tuxedo, people just went crazy, they went nuts. It was like the Beatles. And I was like, 'Oh this is not going to go in my favour.' Which is fine because I had a dress at the ready, and I wanted to wear a dress," Dana says.

Both made their cases for why marriage was a good or bad idea. Dana's point essentially boiled down to, "We don't have to."

"We already live together, I already get his health benefits. I do want to be with you forever, and just because you want to get married doesn't mean I have to," Dana says, summarizing her argument again to Tim as if the pair hadn't already tied the knot.

Tim's argument was a touch more sentimental.

"I wanted to wear the ring that tells the world, 'I do,'" Tim says. 

"Very earnest and sentimental. They ate it up," Dana replies.

7-minute ceremony

The audience sided with Tim, and shortly thereafter there were sixteen people on stage for the vows, including a wedding commissioner and every member of the couple's comedy group, Hunks.

Dana read her prepared vows, Tim forgot every line of his.

"Dana called me an idiot in the middle of the vows. It was perfect.… The service was beautiful," Tim says.

"And sweet," Dana replies.

Tim Gray and Dana Smith got married on stage after a heated debate on CBC's The Debaters at Club Regent Casino Sunday. 2:30

"Altogether it was maybe seven minutes," Tim says. "We did the rings, we did the kiss, the audience went wild."

The couple danced off the stage to the timeless 1980 romantic classic You Make My Dreams Come True by Hall & Oates.

Tim says he's fine if he never wins another debate for the rest of their marriage. 

The couple plans to do a "honeymooners" stand-up comedy tour this fall. 

As for what's next in their marriage?

"Divorce?" the couple says in unison after a thoughtful pause.

"I guess that's the logical next step," Dana said.

With files from Tyson Koschik