Entertainment Television

Pat Mastroianni on the 'Degrassi' reunion, working with Drake and dropping the F-bomb

By Jim Slotek, Special to Postmedia Network

Pat Mastroianni as Joey Jeremiah on the series Degrassi: The Next Generation. (Yvonne Berg/Postmedia Network/Files)

Pat Mastroianni as Joey Jeremiah on the series Degrassi: The Next Generation. (Yvonne Berg/Postmedia Network/Files)

Amid all the bad-boy stuff Degrassi’s Joey Jeremiah pulled over the years – including running naked through the school cafeteria – only one was so bad, it merited an F-bomb. 

It was in the 1992 TV movie School’s Out, the official goodbye to the original Degrassi High gang, when Joey’s girlfriend Caitlin (Stacie Mistysyn) discovered Joey had slept with Tessa Campanelli (Kirsten Bourne).

Caitlin’s response: “You were f---ing Tessa Campanelli? You BASTARD!”

“That was definitely a defining moment for the show, and for CBC,” says Pat Mastroianni, the artist once known as Joey, and the organizer of a multi-city Degrassi tour of comic conventions.

“We were staying true to Degrassi’s mantra for being real. We would have done a disservice to the audience if we’d used any other word. And when it aired, it was on the condition that the line didn’t get said until after 9 p.m.”

As it happens, Mistysyn, Bourne and Mastroianni will all be at Toronto ComiCon this weekend.

Maybe they could recreate that scene, I tell Mastroianni.

“Maybe,” he says with a chuckle. “We get all kinds of requests. I have no shame. But I had to say to some fans on social media who were asking about the naked cafeteria run, 'I don’t think you guys want to see my 45-year-old butt. It’s not like it was when I was 18.'”

The idea of a Degrassi tour came to Mastroianni last year. “I did the math and realized it’s Degrassi (High)’s 30th anniversary and School’s Out’s 25th anniversary.

“And comic conventions made sense to me because they’re all over the place. Every major city has a comic convention every year. I’ve been doing then myself for over five years now. And every time I did one, it’s ‘How’s Snake? What happened to Spike? How’s Caitlin? I would love to see you guys as a group again!’

“So with the anniversaries, I thought, ‘What a nice way to make something fun out of it and celebrate all those things.’”

He says they’ve booked “about a dozen” Comic Cons. “But I’m not allowed to announce before the conventions do first. But so far, we’ve announced Toronto and Ottawa.” (Details can be found on the Degrassi Tour Facebook page).

The cast on hand varies from city to city. “I realized very quickly these cast members have families and lives and careers and jobs. I can’t expect them to give up every weekend for the next six months and travel. So some cast members can back up the core cast.

“Like Amanda Stepto, who played Spike. She’s really excited. Unfortunately, she lives in Ireland now, and the earliest she can come is August.”

Still a working actor, mainly on episodic TV, Mastroianni spent four seasons on the spin-off Degrassi: The Next Generation. And yes, he did work with the artist now known as Drake.

“I get a lot of people asking and I say, ’Well I knew Aubrey Graham.’ He was a 16-year-old kid that loved music. I didn’t work with him very often, we had a few scenes together.

“He was definitely into music. He always had his headphones on, listening to his iPod. Obviously he was driven, he knew what he wanted and how to achieve it.”

Another visceral connection Degrassi has to the ComiCon crowd is Kevin Smith, who was the show’s first celebrity fan. I’m going to say here he was a fan almost to the point of stalker-dom. (Smith and comedy partner Jason Mewes eventually appeared in an original-cast subplot on Degrassi: The Next Generation).

Smith had quite the crush on Mistysyn. “I think he got over it, because in his appearance on the show, he got to kiss her. He actually got to steal Caitlin from Joey on The Next Generation,” Mastroianni recalls.

In fact, he says they first became aware of Smith’s attention to Mistysyn when Clerks was first released.

“He came to my birthday party after he’d filmed Clerks, looking for Stacie Mistysyn. I think I have an article that said he was invited to Madonna’s party and he came to mine instead.

“And he showed up with a small entourage and he introduced himself, and I said, ‘Congratulations on your movie Clerks.’ And he looked around and said, ‘Where’s Stacie?’ And I said, ‘She’s not coming, she’s working tonight.’ And he said, ‘Do you know where she works?’

“And he actually went to the restaurant to give her the script for Mallrats, because at the time he was working on that movie (he) had her in mind to star.” The movie would eventually star Beverly Hills 90210’s Shannen Doherty. “I think Universal said, ‘We’d rather have a bigger American name.’ But I think Kevin really wanted her as his first choice.”