Hoopla

Hal Sparks is bringing his versatility (that includes comedy) to Penguins Friday

GILLES TOUCAS

Actor/comedian Hal Sparks, star of Disney’s “Lab Rats” and host of “Talk Soup,” will bring his standup show to Penguins Comedy Club in Cedar Rapids on Friday (2/15) and Saturday (2/16) nights.
GILLES TOUCAS Actor/comedian Hal Sparks, star of Disney’s “Lab Rats” and host of “Talk Soup,” will bring his standup show to Penguins Comedy Club in Cedar Rapids on Friday (2/15) and Saturday (2/16) nights.

It’s not uncommon for fans to be taken aback by Hal Sparks’ versatility. The actor/director/comic/voice-over artist/talk show host can seemingly fill any entertainment void.

“What strikes me so much today is that what was ordinary back in the day is extraordinary today,” Sparks said by phone from his Los Angeles home. “Look at Gene Kelly. The guy could sing, dance and act. That was the norm back then. Today the standard is lower. I love watching the weekenders perform. Guys who are plumbers by day but play in rock bands during the weekend are so cool. I catch those type of bands when I can.”

Part of Sparks’ appeal as a comic is that he has never lost touch with the common man. Much of his material is based on everyday events, which are difficult to witness if you’re a star living in a fortress of solitude.

“Being a massive star has its disadvantages,” he said. “It takes Jerry Seinfeld six months to write five minutes of material, since it takes him six months to experience anything normal. I think it’s great that I can go out there and mix it up with everybody pretty much all of the time.”

However, every now and then a fan will walk up to Sparks slack jawed.

“I’ll run into someone on occasion, who is shocked to see me shopping at the supermarket,” Sparks said. “I guess they expect me to hire someone to shop for me. But I’ll be in the GNC store in Des Moines and someone will come up who is a big fan of ‘Queer as Folk.’ They’re typically nice and surprised that I stop there.”

It’s not surprising that Sparks, 49, who will perform Friday and Saturday at Penguins Comedy Club in Cedar Rapids, shops at GNC since he’s always been concerned with physical fitness.

“That’s how I’m wired,” he said. “I try to keep myself healthy. I’m in my 50th year, so I’m conscious of what I consume. It’s a stark contrast from so many comedians, who go up there and joke about how when you reach your 40s, it’s all down hill. It doesn’t have to be that way. I have plenty to live for, as long as there is a planet.”

Sparks, who is adept at social and political humor, hopes for change in the Oval Office in 2020.

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“I hated hearing all these people say, ‘What happened during the last election?’ A lot of people didn’t vote is what happened. Get out there and vote even if you’re aren’t crazy about the candidates.”

Sparks, who hosts a weekly political show on a Chicago radio station, wasn’t crazy about Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election but he favored her over President Donald Trump.

“You have to vote,” Sparks said. “There is no excuse. I looked at the last presidential election this way. You had a pickpocket and a serial killer. You pick the lesser of two evils. Vote for the pickpocket, it’s easy. Who’s house would you stay at? The pickpocket or the serial killer. Are you going with the guy that stole somebody’s wallet or the guy eating the bones of a hitchhiker?”

Sparks, who starred in and directed episodes of “Lab Rats,” won’t reveal what subjects he’ll chat about at Penguins but he revealed that his show will be politically correct.

“Halfway through my act I’ll engage the audience and tell them that we were laughing at jokes that are not supposed to be told,” he said. “At that point I tell them that we’re only halfway there. Who knows what I’ll do next?”

When Sparks, who was the voice of Tak in “Tak and the Power of Juju,” has some free time, he fronts the band Zero 1.

“I love making music and just playing songs,” he said. “One of the highlights of my life was singing with Sebastian Bach. The 17-year-old version of myself would have been so wigged out! The guys I was in bands with back in high school would have been so ticked off to find out that I sang with Sebastian.

“If I have an opportunity, I run with it,” he said. “I’m proud of the fact that I can do so many different things. The best part of my versatility is that I’m never bored.”

Get Out!

WHAT: Hal Sparks

WHERE: Penguins Comedy Club, 208 Second Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday (2/15) and Saturday (2/16)

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TICKETS: $18 advance, $20 show day; (319) 362-8133 or Penguinscomedyclub.com

ARTIST’S WEBSITE: Halsparks.com

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