Drew Carey (born 1958) is an actor, comedian, game show host, and sports executive. His early forays into the entertainment business were as a stand-up comedian, and as such he appeared on shows like The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and Late Night with David Letterman. For his stand-up comedy special Drew Carey: Human Cartoon, he won a CableACE Award for Best Writing.
Carey’s really big break-through came when he starred in his own sitcom The Drew Carey Show, which aired on ABC from 1995 to 2004. Set in Cleveland, Ohio, the show revolved around the retail office and home life of “everyman” Drew Carey, a fictionalized version of the actor.
Carey is also well-known as the host of the improv comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway? on ABC, as well as game shows such as The Price Is Right and Power of 10.
Drew Carey’s Improv-A-Ganza was a 40-episode 2011 improv comedy show on GSN that many critics hailed as a natural successor to Carey’s work on Whose Line.
Carey has appeared in a wide range of television series, films, music videos, and even a computer game. He also works as a sports photographer and is a minority owner of the Major League Soccer team Seattle Sounders FC.
Before his career in show business, he served as a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.
Examples of accolades
- 1994: Cable Ace Award for Best Writing: Drew Carey: Human Cartoon
- 1998: Satellite Award for Best Actor – Musical/Comedy Series
- 2000: Honorary DHL from Cleveland State University
- 2000: People’s Choice Award for Favorite Male Television Performer
- 2003: Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
- 2004: #84 on Comedy Central’s 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time
- 2011: Southern California Journalism “Best Advocacy Journalism” Award winner
- 2011: WWE Hall of Fame
Drew Carey was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1958, to Lewis and Beulah Carey. He had two older brothers: Neil born in 1946 and Roger born in 1952.
Carey grew up in Old Brooklyn, a west side neighborhood of Cleveland, situated roughly 5 miles south of Cleveland’s downtown area. When Drew was 8 years old, his father died of a brain tumor.
Carey graduated from James Ford Rhodes High School in 1975. He was a member of the high school marching band, playing cornet and trumpet.
He went to college at Kent State University where he was a part of the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity. He was expelled twice for poor academic performance and left for good after three years to join the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, where he would end up serving for six years.
Examples of jobs that he had before becoming a professional comedian are bank teller and Denny’s waiter.
More information about Carey’s background can be found in his autobiography “Dirty Jokes and Beer: Stories of the Unrefined”, published in 1997. The book entered The New York Times bestseller list and stayed there for three months.
In the early 1980s, a disc jockey named David Lawrence began paying Carey to write jokes for his radio show in Cleveland. He encouraged Carey to go deeper into the art of joke writing, and in 1985 Carey began performing with his own material. In 1986 he won an open-microphone comedy contest and became Master of Ceremonies at the Cleveland Comedy Club.
After spending time honing his skills performing in comedy clubs in Cleveland and Los Angeles, Carey entered the 1988 Star Search which brought him in front of a much larger audience. In 1991, he appeared on both The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and Late Night with David Letterman, and he also joined the 14th Annual Young Comedians Special on HBO.
Carey’s stand-up comedy special Drew Carey: Human Cartoon, which aired on Showtime in 1994, won him a CableACE Award for Best Writing.
Carey’s stand-up career yielded him supporting roles in various television shows, where he often played the character of an unambitious middle-class bachelor.
In 1994, he co-starred in the sitcom The Good Life on NBC, after which he was hired by writer Bruce Helford as a consultant for the show Someone Like Me. Together, Helford and Carey developed the storyline for The Drew Carey Show.
The Drew Carey Show
In this sitcom, Carey played a fictionalized version of himself, working in an office and hanging out with his friends. The show premiered in 1995 and ran for nine years, totaling 233 episodes. Over time, Carey’s pay increased from $60,000 per episode in the first season to $750,000 per episode in the final season. Carey was one of four actors who appeared in all 233 episodes.
Improv on TV
- In 1998, Carey started hosting the United States version of the improv comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway?. The show ran until 2006, totaling 220 episodes.
- In 2004-2005, he starred in the improv comedy show Drew Carey’s Green Screen Show, first on WB and then on Comedy Central. Comedian’s improvised against a green screen and animations were added during post-production.
- In 2011, Carey began hosing the improv comedy show Drew Carey’s Improv-A-Ganza, filmed at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Carey is one of the founders of the Improv All-Stars, an 11 comedian strong group that tours comedy clubs throughout the country. Members of the group have worked on all three of the improv shows Whose Line, Green Screen and Improv-A-Ganza, and some members also guest-starred in The Drew Carey Show.
Game show host
Carey’s career as a game show host started with The Power of 10, which ran on CBS in 2007-2008.
His work with the pilot for The Power of 10 caught the attention of people on CBS who were on the lookout for a replacement for the retiring Bob Barker, and offered Carey the job as host for The Price Is Right. After initially turning the offer down, Carey changed his mind and started hosting the show in October 2007. In 2017, he celebrated his first decade with the show.