Did you know that kids have been going to summer camp for more than a hundred years? That means there are literally millions of adults who were once summer campers just like you. Many of them have gone on to become famous folks who we all know and love. I have a great time featuring celebrities who went to summer camp—people like Drew Carey, for example!
Drew knew what summer camp was all about, alright. He isn’t actually a former camper as he never attended at an age young enough to be a camper; he did, however, spend a summer as a camp counselor at YMCA Camp Y-Noah in Akron, Ohio.
As you may have gleaned from his TV show, he lived in Old Brooklyn, a neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio with his parents and two older brothers. He may have been the youngest, but he grew up fast. He was only eight when his father died of a brain tumor.
With a dabbling interest in music as well as comedy, Drew played the cornet as well as the trumpet in the marching band of James Ford Rhodes High School. After high school, Drew went on to study at Kent State University for some time before enlisting into the United States Marine Corps Reserve in 1980 where he served for six years.
In 1985 Drew was being paid to write jokes for a friend’s radio show in Cleveland. His friend suggested he go to the library to borrow books about how to write jokes. Drew to the suggestion as actual advice and did so.
His understanding of the funny bone led him to win open mic nights and he eventually became Master of Ceremonies at the Cleveland Comedy Club. Drew started performing in comedy clubs all over Cleveland and Los Angeles. After making a name for himself in stand-up, he landed a gig on the Johnny Carson Show. His performance went over so well that Johnny invited him to sit down—a rare invitation for a guest comedian.
He made his first appearance on ‘Late Night with David Letterman’ in 1994 and he had a number of small appearances in television for a year or so after that, but all the while, he was working on something much bigger on the side with his friend Bruce Helford: ‘The Drew Carey Show’.
The show was about a fictionalized version of Drew himself and how he dealt with the stresses of life and work alongside his group of childhood friends. The show was very successful and ran for nine whole seasons, airing a total of 233 episodes.
After that, Drew got involved in the comedy sports arena—hosting the improvisational comedy show ‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’, which regularly featured funnymen like Colin Mockery, Wayne Brady, Ryan Stiles (who costarred in ‘The Drew Carey Show’), and a slew of other guests who would come back often in later episodes.
The show was a tremendous hit and is still in production today, though it is no longer hosted by Drew. Instead, Drew continued his hosting career on a different show—one you may have heard of before called ‘The Price is Right’…! The honor of carrying this infamous gameshow after the show’s original, legendary host, Bob Barker, is a great one.
Check out YMCA Camp Y-Noah in Akron, Ohio for yourself if you’re interested and, as always, thanks for reading.