Drew Carey is back in the game he knows best

Standup comedian and host of the TV game show "The Price Is Right," Drew Carey.
CBS News

(CBS News) Drew Carey is a television performer of many talents, and an urge to revisit the origins of his success. Ben Tracy has our Sunday Profile:

"Come on down!"

When you visit the set of "The Price Is Right," you quickly realize why host Drew Carey calls this one of the happiest places on Earth.

"It's great, it's the biggest blessing in the world," he told Tracy. "You are surrounded by joy. You are surrounded by people that are happy . . . they are out of their minds. It's great being around this kind of environment."

Six years ago Carey took over the show, replacing Bob Barker, who held the job for 35 years.

"You can't walk in thinking, 'Oh, I have to do it just like Bob did,"" Carey said. "You know, you're going to fail, 'cause nobody can be Bob Barker. I have to be me, like it or lump it."

Carey may now be known as a genial game show host, but his roots remain in the less-refined confines of standup comedy -- and his standup act could not be called "family friendly."

"By the way, if you came here to win car, **** off!"

"Part of it is an intimacy," Carey said. "You want to talk like you do when you are with your friends having a beer. I do it on purpose, because that's how I want to present myself, and it's all really well thought out. It's not because I'm just lazy."

At his favorite coffee shop in Los Angeles, Carey told us he's now spending weekends back where he started his career: On the standup circuit.

"Any Catholics in the crowd? You got a new pope, right? Pope Francis, but the old pope, he is still there. He only retired so he is still there living in the same town, checking out the new guy all the time with his hands in the pocket, just keeping an eye on him and everybody knows it. It is like (bleep) Bob Barker."

"If you wanted to, you could sit at home and count your 'Price Is Right' money," said Tracy. "Why go work on the road and do standup?"

"Good question!" replied Carey. "I was plenty happy, believe me, but I am happier when I am doing standup, and I really don't care about the money. I care about the experience more than anything else.

"It's fun!"

It hasn't always been fun for the Cleveland native. His father died from a brain tumor when Carey was just eight. He suffered bouts of depression and got kicked out of college twice, before joining the Marine Corps Reserves.

He started doing standup in local comedy clubs. Then one night in 1991, his life changed forever.

Carey killed it on "The Tonight Show" stage.

"I got my high reunion coming up. . . . Too much pressure, man, That's a lot of stress, high school reunions. You get that letter in the mail and right away you feel like you've only got six months to make something of yourself. C'mon, seven! Daddy needs to lose weight and get a new career!

"Nothing had the importance of doing 'The Tonight Show," Carey said. And then being called over to sit next to Johnny Carson afterward was "like hitting the lottery."

Carson: "You are funny as hell, you really are."
Carey: "Thanks. You, too!"

"My whole life after that," said Carey, "has been like icing on the cake."

Standup success led to his own television show. "The Drew Carey Show" premiered in 1995 and ran for nine seasons.

At the same time, Carey also hosted the improv show, "Whose Line Is It Anyway."

That comedy combo made him a very rich man. In 1998 Forbes ranked Drew Carey number 24 on its list of the highest-paid entertainers.

He made $45.5 million that year, including $750,000 per episode for "The Drew Carey Show."

"Yeah, TV pays crazy money," he said. "I get paid a lot of money, but I don't feel that guilty about it. A lot of people feel guilty, like, 'I don't deserve the money.' I think I do.

"I've heard you are a good tipper," said Tracy.

"Yes," he replied. "It's just my way of spreading it around. One hundred bucks gets you so much good will. It's amazing what a hundred-dollar bill does for you. If you see me and I give you less than 100 bucks, something went awfully wrong."

Drew Carey seemed to have it all -- money, fame, family. He and his former fiancee raise her son, Connor.

But there was one big problem: His weight, which led to a breaking point.