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The best comedy imitates real life

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Gerry Dee is a teacher turned comedian who boasts a hit TV series.

The only pre-requisite for enjoying, understanding and laughing out loud at the comedy TV series Mr. D is to have endured being a high school student sometime, somewhere.
Recall the great teachers, the funny teachers and even the not-so-great teachers. The jostling in the hallways, sidelong looks at the hot jocks and remember how small a locker is when you're looking at it from the inside out.
That's high school and every week you can relive or revile the whole experience as Mr. D comes back for its third season on TV.
Shot almost exclusively in Halifax, the hit series follows the life of Gerry Duncan, an under-qualified high school social studies teacher and wanna-be basketball coach with his share of delusions of grandeur.
Besides writing, producing and starring in the series, Gerry Dee also keeps his hand in the business of standup comedy, and will take his sharp wit almost coast to coast with his one-man show.
The comedian, who was honoured with a Gemini Award for Best Performance, promises to bring lots of laughs to the stage when he performs at the Kelowna Community Theatre on Dec. 13.
"I miss parts of being a teacher, but not necessarily the financial side of it, compared to being in the show," Dee said. "Coaching was always fun. But missing the academic side - I miss it less and less."
He looks forward to the comedy road trips, especially when he finds former students of his in the audience.
"Doing standup is a challenge in itself, and when you have kids in the audience, well, they are a tough crowd. They do judge you and it keeps you on your toes when it comes to oratory skills."
His material for the one-man comedy show, as well as his take on life as a teacher in the TV series, leans heavily on his real life experiences in the classroom and "in life in general."
"It's all new material, but it still comes from personal experiences as a teacher, a husband and a dad." Dee said. "Because it's personal, it's easier to make a connection with the audience.
"We've all been in the situation or remember someone who has been in the situation. Connecting with it makes it funny."
Mixing his two careers has been relatively easy for the comic, who won the Canadian Comedy Award and has made several TV commercials and still appears in comedy clubs like Just for Laughs and Yuk Yuks.
"Being on stage is a very solo thing," Dee noted. "On TV, it's very much about the team, so I like both in different ways."
His series, which is set in a high school called Xavier Academy, first aired in 2012, and has been renewed for its third season with the first show set for Feb. 23 on CBC.
The popularity of the show is that "everyone can remember someone like Mr. D" and his challenges and mistakes are so real-life that the laughs come easily, whether you're a teacher, parent or student.
"Real life is always great material for stand-up comedy," Dee said. "And to be a good teacher, you really need a sense of humour."

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