For the last two decades, Gerry Dee has won over audiences across the country with his family-friendly brand of humour. Celebrated for his hilarious stand-up, best-selling book, and as the co-creator, writer, and star of the CBC smash hit sitcom, Mr. D, Gerry’s ever-growing repertoire of comedic achievements have made him one of Canada’s most iconic talents.
After wrapping up the eighth and final season of Mr. D last year, this former school teacher, turned comedian, was ready to take on two new ventures: a nationwide stand-up comedy tour, kicking off early 2020, and a whole new challenge as host of the CBC game show Family Feud Canada. Just weeks away from the show’s premiere, we caught up with Gerry to find out more.
Were you a fan of Family Feud growing up?
Very much! I remember watching it as a kid and tuning in all the time. I think Family Feud was a staple in a lot of households growing up. We would try to play along with Fast Money and answer before the contestants could.
What was your family’s reaction when they heard you would be hosting the Canadian version of the show? Will they be on set or cheering you on from home?
Everyone is very excited. My cousins from Scotland are coming to a taping next week. I’m looking forward to introducing my young kids to the Canadian version of the show. My daughter came to my first ever rehearsal and she loved it.
Over the years Family Feud America has had many fantastic hosts. Do you have a favourite?
I think Steve Harvey is the best host. Ray Coombs was very good too … and of course, who can forget Richard Dawson. However, Steve is a genius as a host and I’m learning a lot watching how he works.
Is the prep work and rehearsal time that goes into hosting similar to what was involved with your sitcom, Mr. D? Or are they totally different experiences?
Some similarities for sure, but I wouldn’t say the experience is similar to the work I do on a scripted show like Mr. D. For Family Feud Canada, it has been a lot more improvising each day instead of preparing in advance. But, like Mr.D, Family Feud Canada also has a great team behind the scenes as well.
How did it feel the first time you stepped on set?
It was pretty cool. It’s such an iconic show. If I’m being honest, it was a total ‘pinch me’ moment the first time I saw it. I’m excited for everyone to see it!
It’s always a lot of fun to watch how the contestants interact throughout the show. What’s it like meeting the families?
It’s nice! The producers spent a lot of time auditioning families from all over Canada and have done a really good job selecting them for the show. Everyone I’ve met so far is very positive, upbeat, and happy to be there. If they don’t win Fast Money it is a bit of a bummer, but they’re so positive about the experience overall. I’ve had some of the families tell me that they’re organizing viewing parties in their community and have the whole town rallying behind them, which is what I think Canada does so well. It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience for them.
In the American version of Family Feud, the funniest parts of the show are often unscripted. As a comedian, what do you think the key is to drawing out those hilarious moments?
Hosting Family Feud Canada is a balance between keeping the game moving and keeping the laughs coming, so I’m still working to find that balance. I think the key is to keep talking to the families to find out more, which is the same thing I would do for my stand-up shows, if I was talking to a member of the crowd. The more you know about them, the easier it is to create those funny moments.
In addition to hosting Family Feud Canada, we hear you’re doing a nationwide stand-up comedy tour starting in the New Year. Do you think your interactions with the families and hosting duties will provide any new material on the road or what can fans expect?
Since I’m so new to hosting Family Feud Canada I don’t think it will find its way into my stand-up shows, unless something jumps out at me. I have been writing some new stuff and I’m excited to take the material out on the road. It feels good to get it out there and be able to entertain a room for an hour or so.
Family Feud Canada premieres December 16 at 8 p.m. and airs four nights a week Monday to Thursday on CBC and CBC Gem.
Be a part of the Family Feud Canada audience, visit cbc.ca/familyfeud.
Get your tickets for the Alone. On a Stage. tour at gerrydee.com.