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I love Mr. D!
“Well, thank you.”
I had a chance to watch a bunch of them, and I really enjoy the show. Tell me, how did you get involved in acting?
“I actually started when I was 12 years old. I started doing a couple of school plays. Then, I did my first commercial. That commercial is actually on a really funny YouTube channel called Retro Ads, I think. It was for Fantastic Sand Surprises. It’s a really, really horrible commercial. That was my first foot in it. I kind of went in and out of it as a teenager. As I got older, I stuck with it, and now I’m still doing it. That’s the only thing I’ve every really wanted to do.”
Did you go to school for it? Did you study? Do you study with someone?
“I do. I felt once I booked Mr. D, I really needed to take it up a notch, like the quality of auditions really went up for me. I should have done this before, but I started getting coached by different coaches around Toronto. I found one that I really, really liked, Lewis Baumander. I quite liked his style. I find that really helps me before auditions and that sort of thing. It is important, especially, I think, in Canada when you might not be auditioning a few times a day for things. You get out of practice, almost. You almost have to get somebody to get your juices flowing for the audition.”
I understand, too, that you are a photographer. Does any of that play into your acting at all?
“No, not really. I actually started doing photography to find an income in something that I really enjoyed doing that wasn’t acting because you always need a backup. I really enjoyed photography. I did a lot of photography. Then, I booked Mr. D, and I haven’t really since then.”
“Yeah. There’s been so much that’s been going on aside from that. I haven’t needed that creative outlet as much. It’s been hard to commit to it, and then, to have to take the summer’s off, and that sort of thing.”
Tell everyone who is not familiar with Mr. D what the show is about, and about your character, Lisa Mason.
“Mr. D is a sitcom about Gerry Dee, who is a comedian. Before he was a comedian, he was a teacher. He went on to be a stand-up comic, but this is about many of the mistakes he made as a teacher.
It’s basically a sitcom about teachers, and how they’re all just human. They all have many mistakes going on in their lives. It is like any office that you work in. You have all these characters, and these weirdos, the straight men, and that sort of thing.
I play Lisa Mason. She’s the straight-laced, by-the-book, Social Studies teacher. She eventually, worked her way up a bit, and, yeah, that’s me!”
Gerry Dee is hysterical. What’s it like working with him?
“He’s awesome. He has so many hats to wear on the show. He’s producer, writer, main actor. He’s in almost every scene. He works every day. He works more, and he works harder than any of us.
He’s always working on ways to make the show funnier. He’s got a huge business sense. He’s got an amazing business sense to him. I really admire him for that. He’s hilarious.
He’s also amazing with kids. I know that the show makes fun of him, but we’re making fun of the caricature of Gerry Dee, but I swear to God, he’s like a child whisperer. When he’s around kids, all the kids are just enamored with him!”
If I understand right with Mr. D, is semi-autobiographic. I know it’s based on his stand-up routine.
“Yeah. Absolutely. Especially in the first season, there’s definitely a few parts of his stand-up, that they use in our story lines. There’s only so many stories, I think, but I feel like in Season 3, we really hit our stride, and every year it gets more and more fun filming this show!
It is semi-autobiographical, but, like I said, it’s almost like it’s a caricature of Gerry Dee. What he could see in his work, some of his work characteristics, as a teacher, and it’s all inflated. That’s what it’s about.”
Nice. The show reminds me of the series, The Office.
It has that feel to it in my opinion. Do you agree with that?
“I think that’s what Gerry really wanted. I think he was nervous that it would end up looking more like it was Degrassi . He didn’t want it to be that way. He wanted it to be more like The Office, for sure. You have inspiration when you have a show. That definitely played a part in forming the show.”
Do you guys get to ad-lib anything? How much of it is ad-libbed compared to what’s actually scripted?
“There’s a lot of ad-libbing in certain scenes, in certain episodes. I find that the more that we film, the less we ad-lib. The longer the series has gone, the less that has happened, but it still happens a bit. It’s just little tags here and there, or little moments.
Depending on the character. Jonathan Torrens is just a comedy machine. He will come up with these massive amounts of puns and funny, cheesy lines which are great for his character. It depends on the day, on the scene, and you never know what’s going to happen.
If you’re shooting with Gerry, you want to have your lines memorized, but you don’t want them to be so memorized that you can’t change it because the lines do change quite often. You’ll get there, and everything’s set up, and, then, it’s like, “Actually, we’re going to take this line out and replace it with something completely different.” You just roll with it. You learn to.”
Initially, when that would happen, did that freak you out a bit?
“I was like “But I knew those lines.” When I first started on the show, there was this settling period where you just learned to roll with it, basically. You see people that come on the show. They haven’t been around before. They’re wondering what’s going on, like why the lines are changing, or, maybe, there’s one line that’s taken out. It has nothing to do with that. It’s just for the benefit of the scene when we run it all through, sometimes it changes.”
The season finale of Mr. D was interesting because Lisa is now the new principal, and Gerry is out of a job!
“I know. “Spoiler Alert”!”
“Spoiler Alert!” [Laughs]. Any thoughts, for now, on where you see the 5th season going for these characters?
“Well, now it’s called the “Lisa Mason Show.” [Laughs] No, I don’t know how much I can say, but Gerry Dee is still, obviously, quite tied to it. Without having any Spoiler Alerts, he’ll still be here in Season 4.”
Do you have any other projects coming up?
“It’s hard to book anything when you’re away for three months, so I’ve just been auditioning, and that sort of thing. Not quite yet, but there’s always something going on, so, we’ll see. I’ll let you know!”
Do you have any funny stories from the Mr. D set that you’d like to share?
“I mean, we had so much fun together. Oh, my God. Even at the hotel that we stay at in Halifax! The hotel has started throwing two nights of socials. They invite the entire hotel to come down and drink and eat for free for two nights. We were obsessed with it! We always go down to it.
Suresh John, who plays the janitor, just ran a little rampant. It’s not nearly as good as the other ones. He went down there in his hotel robe and slippers. He’s at the bar in the hotel. We live in this place as a home, but it’s just bizarre living in a hotel for three months!”