• What: Comedy from the actor who played Screech on “Saved by the Bell.”
• When: 10 p.m. Saturday. The show includes an opening act. Doors open at 9 p.m.
• Where: Ramada Inn, 2727 Sixth Ave. S.E.
• Opening act: Comedian Randy Ankarlo.
• Tickets: $15 in advance and $20 at the door. To buy tickets, visit the Ramada or call 605-225-3600.
Actor Dustin Diamond, known for playing Screech on “Saved by the Bell,” doesn't think it's that unusual that he ran into trouble in his 20s.
Diamond, 36, admits that he had his “rebellious years and I had my high drama and a lot of crazy stuff in my 20s.” But he points out that he started working in show business when he was 8. So, “I had to release something at some point. My rebellious teens just came a decade later, when I was in my 20s.”
Now that he's in his 30s, Diamond is “heading back towards more of a family man” lifestyle.
“I'm ready for kids and what have you,” Diamond said in a phone call from Port Washington, Wis., where he lives with his wife.
A California native, Diamond has lived in Wisconsin for about 11 years. The move took place after he played bass in a band that recorded for four months in Wisconsin. After that, he decided Wisconsin felt more like home to him than California.
“So I packed up shop and moved out here.”
Diamond played Samuel “Screech” Powers for 13 years on five shows, four of which had “Saved by the Bell” in the title. The job lasted from 1988 to 2000.
He’s glad he played Screech.
“Oh yeah. Who wouldn't want to have been part of a successful show for a very long time and be able to look back and have such a well of memories and experiences that you can dig into? I mean, how many kids are 12 years old getting invited to the Playboy Mansion?”
Diamond and his father played video games during the actor's down time on “Saved by the Bell,” and he's still an avid gamer. He also likes solving puzzles.
But, he said, “I think that I love to laugh more than anything else.”
Diamond got his first taste of stand-up comedy in 1998. But it wasn't until November 2000 that he decided he was going to get up to tell jokes “as often as they'll let me.”
Stand-up comedy is the most raw form of entertainment, he said.
“It's you and a microphone, and you live and die by your jokes."
“Public speaking, in general, a lot of people find difficult,” he said.
On top of that, a comedian has to face a group of strangers. It's one thing to make your friends laugh.
“But when you're making a group of strangers laugh, it's a much more rewarding experience,” he said.
When he goes onstage, a comic not only has to tickle the audience's funny bone, “but you also have to convey your personality and your sense of humor and get them to warm up to you,” he said. In every show, he has to break the ice “with an entire roomful of people who don't know you.”
Diamond has been telling jokes for 14 years.
“It's been a long road, but I've enjoyed every minute of it.”
One experience that jarred the public's impression of Diamond occurred in 2007, when he appeared on “Celebrity Fit Club.”
In hindsight, appearing on the show “wasn't a great decision, but at the time I thought it was something that the audience or the public would go with me on.”
Diamond played the bad guy on the show. He didn’t think the job was much different from his previous TV appearances.
“Celebrity Fit Club,” he said, is scripted.
“I was told and maneuvered into exactly what I was going to be doing and saying and all that stuff.”
Growing up in show business, Diamond understands that any good story needs conflict. Where is “Star Wars,” he asks, without Darth Vader?
“Reality TV I just see as TV. Other people saw the reality part of it and they believed that everything they were seeing was the gospel truth,” he said. Diamond jumped at the chance to play a villain because he is normally offered characters that are clones of Screech or other goofy characters. He loves comedy, he said. “I would never abandon it fully.” However, “I'm an actor.” He wants to spread his wings. “I'd like to get on ‘Dexter’ or ‘Breaking Bad.’ I want to expand my horizons.”
It was eye-opening for Diamond to see how his work on “Celebrity Fit Club” was received. He never fathomed the idea, he said, “that people would take me as a legit bad guy.”
Not only did it turn the public off, but no one acknowledged that he played the role convincingly.
“That was my job, to play the bad guy, and I think I did it pretty darn well. Give me some credit. Where are those ‘Breaking Bad’ guys?”
Lots of people who grew up watching “Saved by the Bell” now have their kids watch it. Some people tell Diamond that he got them through school because in their high school, they were Screech.
Diamond is proud he's won the approval of people who study physical comedy, facial expressions and comedic timing.
They appreciate his work in “taking a character and trying to find nuances within it that make it interesting and enjoyable to watch,” he said.
Diamond, who's a bit of a comedy historian himself, likes seeing an actor who can find 20 comedic moments in a scene that contains only one joke.
On the other hand, Diamond gained notoriety for a 2006 sex tape and also wrote an autobiography titled “Behind the Bell.”
He's done work that is both controversial and noncontroversial in nature, he said. But he believes he still has offer a lot to offer.
“This roller coaster ride is one of the best and most exciting that anyone could ever be a part of in this industry,” he said. “The best part for me is knowing that I'm still young.” Even though he's been in the business for almost 30 years, “There's so much more on the horizon for me.”
On Saturday night, he won’t talk a lot about Screech.
“I don't really discuss my TV experience other than a few passing remarks because everyone knows that already,” he said.
His observations are more about interactions between people. He enjoys studying those interactions because he's a people person and a people watcher, he said.
His comedy show is geared toward a mature audience.
“I'd say it's a show for everybody as long as you're an adult,” he said. “I mean, you can bring your grandma, but she's got to be a biker granny.”
Diamond earned his keep for many years on a Saturday morning show. But his comedy act is “definitely not a Saturday morning show,” he said.
If you're an adult, you should definitely come out, he said. “It's going to be a blast.”