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Hal Sparks: From ’Queer as Folk’ to Stand-Up & Rock

by Ryan Burr .
Sunday May 15, 2011
Hal Sparks: From ’Queer as Folk’ to Stand-Up & Rock

A more intellectual sort of comedy wound its way into Seattle's Benaroya Hall on April 29 by way of Hal Sparks, a former sitcom star turned comedian-rock star.

April 29th's show delved into religion, social issues and...even zoology. Note: Hal hates the notion that every city needs a zoo. While he didn't rag on Seattle for having one, he lambasted Dallas, particularly for carrying a polar bear exhibit in such a warm climate.

As the news cycle continues to churn out one terrible event after another (such as the recent tornadoes in the South which killed a historic number of people), Hal shared his consternation with religious devotees who find a way to blame events like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina on homosexuality. When something awful happens to those religious extremists, like the tornado outbreak, then it's viewed as simply a challenge from God, something they must embrace as part of their destiny.

He appeared onstage in his newly renovated rocker garb. In some shows across the country, his hair has been long and brown, streaked with red and blond -- a far cry from his days in Michael Novotny's Polo shirts and buzz cuts. However, that animated attitude, trimmed figure and piercing smile were still there. Sparks even mentioned his updated look in his 90-minute act.

"Yes, I have long hair now," he said sarcastically. "Why is it that when you grow your hair out, everybody becomes your f---ing mom? 'You were so much cuter with your hair short ... I just don't want people to think you're a bad person.' You know what, f--- off!"

It was a night riddled with Hal's take on American's bad habits and annoying phrases, like "That's the last thing I need." His response: "I'm pretty sure a defibrillator is the last thing you'll need" (a reference to people's fast-food eating habits.)

"The 'all you can eat' sign at restaurants is not a dare," he said. "We need all you should eat restaurants, staffed with armed guards."

Some references to "Queer as Folk," and maybe even some storytelling would've have been pleasing, especially since he is perhaps best known for his role as Michael Novotny on the gay soap opera. The Showtime series ended in 2004. Fans of the show would love a movie follow-up, but rumors have floated around that it will never happen, possibly due to friction among cast members or among the director and the network.

During a meet and greet with audience members after the show, many were emotionally thankful to Hal for his role on "Queer as Folk" and the visibility it offered of the gay community and gay issues. Hal was genuinely grateful for their support, often responding "cheers."

Sparks, 41, now fronts the rock band Zero 1 and was the second-place winner of VH-1's celeb-reality show "Celebracadabra."

Visit his website for more info on Hal's music and comedy schedule.

Prior to Sparks, Texas-born comedian Chis Bonno took the stage with a guitar in hand. His spastic comedy style, sometimes appearing as if had a serious attention deficit disorder, mostly shined when he played "non covers" by famous musicians. Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond and Paul McCartney were some of his victims.

Bonno is a regular improv artist with The Fugitives, Liquid Radio Players and Fake Radio Players in Los Angeles. He's also appeared on television shows "Just Shoot Me," "Rock Me Baby," "The Drew Carey Show" and "Mad About You."

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