Hal Sparks is ready to rock your world with his stand up and — he promises — you will enjoy the experience.
“I can ruin your world view, and you will still like me,” say Sparks, who appears 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, Dec. 11 to 13, at Howie Mandel’s Comedy Club at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City.
“A comedian’s job is to call b.s. on everything. As an art form, that’s what comedy has always been.”
If you know Sparks only through his diverse list of TV and film appearances — everything from “Talk Soup” and VH1’s “I Love the …” to “Queer As Folk” and “Dude, Where’s My Car?” — his stand up fuses the political with “true silliness.”
But he’s not one to mine the headlines or call out individual politicians — especially an easy target like President Trump.
“I have a couple of moments when it’s obvious that I’m referencing (Trump), but even so I’m not saying his name,” Sparks says. “It pulls people who are on the fence into my way of thinking.”
Whatever the topic, the comedy has to come first — this isn’t a Ted Talk, it’s stand up.
“Laughter is the primary thing,” Sparks says. “You can say anything you want as long as it’s funny.”
Don’t let Sparks’ lengthy list of acting credits, side gig with metal band Zero 1 or recent foray into directing make you think he’s just dabbling in stand up.
“If you’re not willing to do stand up as an art form your whole life, don’t do it,” Sparks says. “There are two types of people who reference stand up — people who do stand up who are stand up comedians and people who failed at stand up. No one has ever ‘tried’ stand up.
“I don’t do anything, whether it’s acting or music or stand up or directing, unless I could do it by itself and it could be an entire career.”
His experience as a stand up has informed his ability to direct, according to Sparks, who has helmed episodes of his former Disney XD series, “Lab Rats,” and has plans to direct a feature film and a documentary.
“With directing, the idea is that you want to shape what people are visually saying — it’s about drawing attention,” he says. “With stand up, I draw attention to a specific point of something.”
For his latest career step, Sparks has been logging considerable time in China, where he’s filming a new travel-reality series that will debut next year. He says he was a natural for the show, which aims to depict day-to-day life in the world’s most populous country.
“They needed a host who was funny and spoke Mandarin — and there was only one of us,” he says, half-joking.
“The focus of the show is China at the crossroads of the past vs. the future — a technological future and an ancient past.”
If you’re scratching your head wondering how the “Talk Soup” guy or the actor from “Queer As Folk” or wherever you know Sparks from can go directly from feeding pandas in China to telling jokes in Atlantic City, you’re not alone.
“I’m a branding nightmare for my publicist and and agents,” he says. “In an age where everyone likes to do one thing — and do it over and over again — when I get intro’d, they don’t list off my credits. Not because people don’t know them, but because none of them are indicative of what I’m doing on stage.”
For Sparks, who is also a licensed pilot, his diverse interests make complete sense.
“The idea was always to be an actor and be in bands and be a stand up and direct and produce — all of it seems interesting, so do it,” he says. “You have to be patient with your long-term skills and patient with your short-term skills. You build the structure one brick at a time and then all of a sudden it’s done.
“My thing is if you want to do something, do it like it matters to you. I guarantee you that whatever your dream is, there’s a moron that’s been doing it for three years.”
Rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd last stop in Atlantic City
Southern Rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd made a stop on their “Last of the Street Survivors Farewell Tour” in Atlantic City last night members include Johnny Van Zandt, lead vocals; Founding Member Gary Rossington on Lead Guitar; Rickey Medlocke, guitar; Mark Matejka, guitar; Peter Keys, keyboards; Mochael Cartellone, drummer. The band performed to a near capacity crowd at Historic Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ on Saturday December 1st, 2018. Opening included The Marshall Tucker Band and Channing Wilson. Photo: Tom Briglia /PhotoGraphics