Hometown: Scarborough, Ont.
- 2002, won San Francisco International Comedy Competition – first Canadian to win it in 27 years
- 2008, won a Canadian Comedy Award as Best Male Comic
- appeared in U.S. HBO Comedy Arts Festival, The Montreal Just for Laughs Festival and recently performed in Scotland and South Africa
- His new series, Mr. D, debuts Monday, Jan. 9, on CBC
- Starts a cross-country standup comedy tour, 2012 Life After Teaching, on Jan. 14
- Writing a book on his life as a teacher (publication planned for October)
Have you ever wanted to dump your job and try something new? Gerry Dee did just that.
After a decade as a high-school physical education teacher, he quit his gig to become a comic in 2003. Since then, he hasn’t looked back.
Nowadays, Dee’s career is on a roll. He has a new comedy series debuting on CBC Jan. 9, followed by a coast-to-coast comedy tour starting Jan. 14. To get to some of the comedy clubs, he’ll drive a brand-new 2012 Acura MDX.
What does an Acura MDX say about you?
It’s nice. It feels like a sports car.
I have a family, two young kids and it’s nice to get into something that drives like a sports car.
It gives you that feeling that, even though you’re getting old and settled, you’re not.
Do you drive to gigs?
Anything three hours or less, I drive. If it’s four hours, I fly.
I don’t like driving really. I don’t look forward to a drive. This car has a lot of bells and whistles and it’s kind of fun to drive, but I still don’t love when I have to go and drive for three hours. I’m so ADD – if I’m stuck in a car, it’s frustrating.
I can’t go anywhere. I can’t talk to anyone.
What was your first car?
The first car I had was a 1979 Volare, which my dad gave to me. I think he took the bus while I had it in university.
The first car I ever bought – well, I’ve never bought a car, I always lease them – was a white Pontiac Sunfire. I think it was 1996-97. It was about $12,000. Then I jazzed it up.
The next one I got was a convertible Sunfire, which I still laugh at. A green Sunfire convertible, thinking I had a sports car. If you’re going to have a convertible, it should be a high-end car.
You’re trying to look cool, but not really. I thought I had a high-end sports car. I was single the whole time I had it, too. I think there’s a correlation there.
Then I went to a Jimmy for two cars. I had an Acadia before the Acura. I also own a 2011 Honda Odyssey now.
What made you go from a string of North American-made cars to Japanese?
I had a little more disposable income to try something a little higher end.
The GMCs were fine, but I found after a while they didn’t ride the same way they did when they came off the lot two years later.
I thought I’d try something sleeker, something different, something smoother, more manageable and powerful. Guys like to have a bit of power behind the car.
I’m not a fast driver, but it’s nice to have that ability to just get a little bit smoother and quicker.
Any speeding tickets?
My whole life I’ve probably been caught – we all speed, 20 over is okay – probably three-four times in my life in 25 years driving. Not bad.
I was paying them and then I found out they go on your insurance – it’s called a conviction. I thought I was being a good guy paying them, saving the court systems and everything.
They’re never high or big: 15-20 over; 22 over was the highest.
What was your favourite and least favourite vehicle?
The Acura is my favourite now because it’s a completely different car. It’s a higher-end car. We’ve got everything for the kids and the DVD – we went all out.
My least favourite was a Mustang. It wasn’t anything against the Mustang, but it was just old and kept breaking down.
I remember driving back from University in Nova Scotia and it broke down twice. I was in Quebec and I had to hold the door with one hand. I had all my stuff from university packed inside and I couldn’t see. It was dangerous. That car caused me a lot of grief. It was a lemon.
I don’t know anything about cars. But the alternator went when I was driving from Quebec in some small town where no one speaks English on a Sunday morning. I found a guy, but I thought it was the battery so I got it boosted and then the alternator wouldn’t keep it going so it would die again. I must have got nine boosts from Quebec people – God love them.
And finally someone said it probably has something to do with your alternator. It was the alternator and battery at the same time. It was nine hours driving back home with my hand holding the driver door in the snow. I got it home and ditched it. I never used it again.
What’s your best and worst driving memory?
I had fun driving a convertible in the summer, I have to be honest. It was pretty cool. Now what I thought I looked like and what I looked like were two different things.
Worst was in university when you pack nine people in your car and you couldn’t see.
I had the car in university and no one else did. If you wanted to go on road trips or go downtown, I was the driver so everyone would jam in. ‘Okay, that’s enough. No. No. Okay one more guy.’
But I remember being out east in university when I went to St. FX [St. Francis Xavier University] I’m a bit claustrophobic and someone else did that and it was a bad drive. We went two kilometres, but I thought I was going to have an attack. I don’t like when there’s too many people in the car and I’m a passenger in the back – that’s what you do in high school and university – you just jam everybody in. Nowadays, it doesn’t happen as much.
If I can bring you the keys to any car what would it be?
A Porsche Cayenne SUV. I’m not a big sports car guy. I’d never want a two-seater. I’d want something practical.
But a Porsche convertible would be fun to drive or a four-seater Mercedes so the kids could enjoy it, too.
The interview has been edited and condensed.