KATIE WEAVER: What’s it like to do standup comedy for a Yellowknife audience?
ALEX SPARLING: It’s a blast. It’s a little different, I definitely have a bit of a home-ice advantage and all of my friends are here. I only come home every six months to do a show. This one’s especially different though, because all the other shows I came up and did were shows that I ran on my own, but being that this is with Yuk Yuk’s, it makes it a little more special I guess.
KW: Take me through the process of going from extreme trauma to doing comedy.
AS: It’s pretty easy. I’m guessing you’re talking about my eye kind of a thing? I always dealt with things with humour anyways, so it was pretty easy to just jump back into it. I was doing standup a little bit before I lost my eye too. The other thing too is that I was doing acting before, and acting all of a sudden got a lot harder and standup didn’t really care, so it was a pretty easy transition.
KW: How did your upbringing in Yellowknife impact the way your life has turned out?
AS: I’m a better drinker than most comics down south. I think a lot of it is being kind to people, I have fun, I have an easier time just meeting people, talking to people and listening. That, I definitely learned up here. People are friendly down south as well, but there’s so many people that kind of close off a little bit.
Oh, and I definitely got way more room to play up here. As long as you were willing to put yourself out there, you could do whatever you wanted. My speeches for grad council and student council were borderline standup to begin with. I got away with that, no problem. It got to the point near the end of high school where teachers would ask me to do standup for the talent shows even though I’d never done it before. It just kind of fit. I definitely got way more opportunities up here within the drama program than I would have down south.
KW: What was your favourite role in a Sir John drama production?
AS: The Mad Hatter, for sure, in Alice Rocks in Wonderland. A large part of it, why it was so much fun, was my friend Matt Ellis was the Marge Hare and we played the roles with some very serious gay undertones towards each other. Which I don’t think has ever been done before. I’m pretty sure we might be the first Mad Hatter and Marge Hare gay duo in the history of Lewis Carroll.
KW: Any advice for Yellowknifers who aspire to make it in the entertainment world?
AS: Just do it. It’s the biggest advice I can give. Just move south and do it. Jump in, both feet, go to school. If it’s something like standup, you have to be out every single night doing standup. If it’s acting, you have to be going to classes all the time. Putting yourself out there on the internet, looking for projects. Just do it. I think growing up here it’s an easy, safe bubble to just kind of stay here, make a bunch of money. It’s a safe bet. But it really just takes moving and just jumping in.