It’s No Schtick
By Robert Kreutzer
Drew Carey is just a regular guy . . . a regular guy who just so happens to host one of the longest-running TV game shows
No small part of Drew Carey’s success is that he is an everyman of comedy. Looking like a middle-school science teacher hasn’t stopped him from being one of the most popular funnymen today. He says the regular guy thing is no schtick.
Known for a lot of different things, from stand-up to sketch comedy to movies and TV, Carey is currently the host of the long-running TV game show The Price is Right. It is there, he says, he is reminded of his own humble roots.
“I have empathy. I used to be as broke as anyone in the audience,” explains Carey by cell phone as he drives to Las Vegas for a series of dates. He sounds every bit as jovial as he appears on TV.
“I had a very blue-collar upbringing in Cleveland,” recalls Carey, “and I don’t look down on anyone else. I’ll ask people what they do, and someone will say ‘Oh, I’m just a bartender.
“I’ll tell them, ‘Don’t be down on that.’ I can’t imagine a world without bartenders, or waitresses, or garbage man, or plumbers or all the people who do these different jobs. My pants come on one leg at a time. I have a different job than a lot of people, but I’m not special or better—it’s just a different job.
“I’m not better than anyone else, and nobody else is better than me,” says Carey. “I’ll admit, though, that I do like it when someone recognizes me and gives me a better seat at the restaurant.”
What Carey is way above average at is staying busy. While being a game-show host is a full-time job all by itself, Carey still squeezes in a lot of stand-up dates. Carey doesn’t claim to be a workaholic or anything of that sort—he just has a nuclear-powered mind.
“I have so many half-read books around my house,” Carey admitted. “I start one, then I see a shiny object, so I get distracted, then I hear about a good documentary and then I have to check that out. Sometimes I can’t go right to sleep at night because I can’t shut my brain off.”
In exchange for some sleep deprivation, that cranial hyperdrive has resulted in a career with gobs of successes. Carey has had both his own sitcom and his own improv show. He has also appeared in movies, authored books, plus thrown himself into sports photography and political advocacy.
Carey comes double-barreled in June to the Ontario Improv, where he hosts “Drew Carey Presents The Best of The Midnight Show.” With a combo of improv and stand-up, Carey says the show is a bit different than what some longtime fans may be used to.
“There’s a lot of sketch comedy,” revealed Carey, “but it’s not a regular comedy club show. I hate doing anything that’s ‘the usual.’” The first part is a really funny series of sketches, of which I’m in about a quarter. Then I do some stand-up.”
Carey has been the host of The Price is Right since 2007. For a long time, game show hosting was sort of seen, rightly or wrongly, the way soap opera acting has been—a definite underclass of entertainment. That has changed as name comedians, such as Steve Harvey, have become game show hosts. Carey makes no apologies about his Price is Right gig.
“I love hosting The Price is Right,” says Carey. “It is just fantastic hosting that show. If it was just a paycheck, I wouldn’t be doing it. I do it out of joy. I’m just surrounded by happiness, especially when I see people win when they’re down on their luck. You should come to one of our tapings—it’s the most joy-filled place outside of church.”
Drew Carey presents “The Best of the Midnight Show” at The Improv, Ontario Mills, 4555 Mills Cir., Ontario, (909) 484-5411; ontario.improv.com. Fri, June 8-Sun, June 10.