When Gerry Dee didn’t like a student he taught in class, he would hit him in the face with a dodgeball.
“I actually did that,” Dee said. “If I didn’t like a kid I would hit them harder. They were sponge balls, so if you hit them in the face it doesn’t hurt. And if you hit them in the face they have to stay in the game. Those are the rules.”
A 10-year teaching career turned into a gold mine for Dee, who transitioned from teacher to stand-up comedian 10 years ago.
His experiences in the classroom and secret insights into what teachers really think of their students have become perfect fodder for his sitcom Mr. D – now in its second season on CBC Television – as well as a newly released book, Teaching: It’s Harder Than It Looks, and his latest cross-Canada Life After Teaching standup tour.
“Good or bad, I’ve become the comedic voice of teaching and I tell stories that teachers say ‘I can’t believe he’s telling them we do that,’” Dee said.
Dee talks about things like how teachers mark, shortcuts teachers take when lesson planning and the real reason teachers play movies in class.
Brant residents have the chance to hear these stories and more when Dee’s Life After Teaching tour stops at the Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts on Dec. 1 at 8 p.m.
“I haven’t been to Brantford for four years, so everything is going to feel really new to everybody,” Dee said. “A lot of teachers come out and a lot of parents and that’s what kind of things I talk about – teaching, parenting and everything you can relate to.”
Beginning his career as a private school teacher at his alma mater, De La Salle in Toronto, Dee never expected to achieve comedic success.
“I thought, ‘this is my life. Hopefully, I will get married and I will teach and get a pension,’” Dee said. “Now, I’ve become known in the country and it’s bizarre and very surreal to me.”
On top of his teaching-related comedy successes, Dee was third runner-up on the fifth season of Last Comic Standing, had a part in the film Trailer Park Boys: The Movie and has his own segment on the Score, Gerry Dee: Sports Reporter.
The Canadian Comedy Award winner has come a long way since his first day as a teacher, supplying for a Grade 9 girls gym class.
“Being a substitute, I certainly got thrown into the fire,” Dee said. “They didn’t listen to a word I said – it was the worst day ever. My fourth day teaching I got cursed at.”
Dee will take time to meet with fans, take photos and sign autographs after his Dec. 1 show. Tickets range in price from $41.75 to $61 and can be purchased at the Sanderson Centre box office at 88 Dalhousie St., by phone at 519-758-8090 or online at www.sandersoncentre.ca.
If you can’t make the Sanderson Centre show, Dee and his fellow Mr. D castmates will perform on Jan. 1 in Toronto at the Toronto Centre for the Arts.