TORONTO — Teacher-turned-comedian Gerry Dee says returning to his old school to preview an upcoming episode of his sitcom Mr. D was an emotional homecoming.
The wisecracking TV star visited his alma mater Wednesday to speak to students and recall the days he walked those same halls as a student, and later as a teacher.
Now, he says some of those memories at De La Salle College have provided fodder for his farcical CBC sitcom, about an ill-prepared instructor who often seems to know less than his young charges.
Dee showed students an upcoming episode in which his fictional character holds a charity boxing match and enters the ring with another teacher.
He says it’s based on an actual charity boxing match in which he and another instructor pummelled each other mercilessly.
Dee says the series is fictional but admits it’s filled with homages to actual students and teachers who made an impact on his life.
They include his old hockey coach, favourite instructors and former colleagues whose names are attached to fictional characters including Mason, Cheeley, Hunt, Maya and Callaghan.
“There are homages everywhere in the show,” Dee said later in an interview, insisting that otherwise the over-the-top series is nothing like life at De La Salle College.
Following his 20-minute address, Dee said he struggled to stifle emotions that emerged when he saw the packed auditorium and was hit by various memories.
“I saw where the (students) were sitting, I envisioned sitting where the teachers were sitting on the walls, I envisioned the days I would stand there and lead the assembly in prayer,” he said.
“It was a lot of emotions going through (me). I always get emotional when I think of all that stuff for some reason.”
Dee credits the school with giving him a solid grounding in life.
“I’m living the dream that I wasn’t supposed to be doing,” he said.
Mr. D airs Mondays on CBC-TV.