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North Bay’s version of Mr. D comes home

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Comedian and high school teacher Francois Weber is coming home to North Bay this weekend to headline his “Fully Shaved” tour. Weber feels lucky just to be alive.

Weber has roots in North Bay and, true to his French Canadian upbringing, attended Algonquin before moving on to Nipissing University.

Weber says that he dabbled in stand-up comedy in his twenties, but had put performing on the back burner after he took a job as a high school teacher in Halifax, married and started a family.

Ten years ago, when he was 40, Weber was diagnosed with a brain tumour that turned out to be benign, but, according to the comic, “exploded in my head.”

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Facing his mortality at a young age, Weber began going over bucket list items in his mind while recovering. It was then, in 2006, that he saw Gerry Dee, the Canadian comedian and now star of the television hit Mr. D, on Last Comic Standing.

“I turned to my wife [at the time] and said ‘I want to work with Gerry Dee one day,’ and she gave me a funny look.” Weber has fulfilled his bucket list wish, touring and opening shows for the comedian, and building a friendship with the popular entertainer.

Is an appearance on Mr. D in the cards? Weber laughs and says that Dee has encouraged him to set something up with his agent. Weber says that on a trip from North Bay to Brampton five years ago after they had both performed here, Dee sat in the back seat brainstorming ideas for what would become Mr. D while asking Weber about his teaching experiences.

Like Weber, Dee and the fictional Mr. D, have also experienced the trials and tribulations of teaching, a profession that has provided plenty of fodder for their respective acts over the years.

“I’ve seen a lot happen in my life. The tumour was wrapped around my pituitary gland. The doctor said that in another 48 hours, I would have dropped dead,” explains Weber.

Placed on a waiting list for an MRI, Weber was able to secure an appointment earlier than his initial assigned date and that saved his life.

Now a veteran of several mid-sized comedy festivals, Weber has added a new item to his bucket list. “I haven’t cracked the Just For Laughs nut yet, but maybe someday.”

Weber will headline the show with Sudbury’s Clint Gibbons and Doug Bies of North Bay opening things up Friday at 9 p.m. at the Voyager Inn. Tickets are $10.

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