My high school, De la Salle College "Oaklands", on the other hand, once counted Keanu Reaves as its most famous former student (though he didn't graduate there). But how the sands of time have shifted! It seems that Gerry Donoghue, aka Gerry Dee, may be ascending the ranks, thanks to a new TV show based on his experiences teaching at Del.
Gerry Donoghue graduated from De la Salle in the 1980s, and came back to the school as a teacher in the mid-1990s, when I was there. (Class of 2000!) Even in academe it's pretty lame/frowned upon to come back and teach at the same place you got your degree, and it's even lamer when it's a high school. But hey, it's tough getting teaching jobs, especially if you're not all that good. And Del had been going through a transition – it had just privatized in 1994, after a tumultuous period in which it was part of the Toronto Separate School Board (i.e., Catholic schools) and was thought to be used as a dumping ground for trouble students.
In fact, my very first day of high school, I had Gerry Donoghue substitute-teach my gym class. Thankfully, that was my first and last class with "Mr. D." He later went on to teach Grade 12 history, and friends in that class told me that it was a bit of a joke. So credit Gerry Dee for honesty in his standup routine, but let's not pretend he was fooling anybody. I had heard rumours that Donoghue did stand-up on the side during this time, and thought to myself that it was kinda weird, but if he was better at that than teaching, well, more power to him.
Some years later, I started seeing Donoghue – now going by the stage name of Gerry Dee – on some local stand-up specials (e.g. CTV's super-cheapo Comedy Now). The routine was based on teaching at De la Salle, and was pretty funny – not the best ever, nowhere near the prophetic satirical power of the late great George Carlin, but certainly better than your average observational humour about relationships. Then Gerry Dee popped up again on a couple of seasons of Last Comic Standing, using mostly the same stuff. Again, his material was better than most of the other competitors, but he kept telling the same jokes.
So it's now with near-annoyance that I note that starting next week, Gerry Dee is starring in a new CBC sitcom, Mr. D. Early clips are not encouraging, folks: this is not going to renew anyone's faith in the CBC's (non-news/sports) programming acumen. And yes, it's based on that same, fifteen-year-old material about showing up hung over to teach history to a class that knows more than he does. Moreover, things have changed since Gerry Donoghue and I were at Del: there was no Facebook, no Twitter, cell phones had monochrome screens and were as big as bricks, and the nascent modern Internet was still 100% dial-up. (The high-school plagiarist's wonderland, Wikipedia, had also yet to be.)
On the one hand, Dee's repetition makes sense – if you only have a limited amount of experience with a particular job, and don't do it anymore, you start telling the same stories about it over and over. But on the other hand, if you're going to tell stories professionally, you need to update your material, no matter what the subject – especially if there have been important changes in the meantime. (It's called research, Mr. D.)
I guess some people really don't get over high school – and for one, it's even a living.
ETA: Here's a thoughtful review of Mr. D, from an American, no less.
*Yes, classicist nitpickers, that should indeed be almae matres. But then nemo cognoscisset quod scripsissem.
**Nikki Benz (née Alla Monchak), Josef Cardinal Slipyj Catholic School Class of '95.