Arts & Entertainment

Steven McFarlin loves to tell a good joke

Comedian Steven Kent McFarlin -- aka Spanky -- has his own take on diversity.

"Diversity is what makes our country No. 1, and we should be proud of that," he told the Herald in a dead-serious tone.

"With the Latino culture we have great passion. With the influence of African culture we have great rhythm. And from the Asian culture we have great math skills. And then we have the white culture, which has great fear of passion, rhythm and math!" he said, landing his punch line with a laugh.

McFarlin spins that joke at clubs worldwide, where he often laughs as hard as his audience does.

"I can't help it," he said. "I'm really not full of myself. You could actually even call me naive, but some of my jokes just make me laugh. Besides, I've been blessed with lifelong immaturity."

Tri-City comedy lovers can check McFarlin out this month when he's the featured comic Feb. 18-20 at Jack Didley's Comedy Club in Kennewick. Showtime is 8:30 p.m. each night. Cover charge is $5.

McFarlin's a Texas boy who now calls New York City home. He says his simple Southern roots haven't been a problem for the highbrow in The Big Apple.

"I've lived in this town for many years now and I love it," he said. "New Yorkers really aren't as bad as they seem."

His creativity is a blend of his varied background. Before McFarlin moved to NYC he was an art director for the Dallas Times-Herald. He's also a musician who plays sax, piano and harmonica.

As to where his humor comes from, he said it's a crapshoot. It could come from the cosmos, but mostly it's simply observational. "You watch people, you watch how life unfolds and you're bound to be amused by what you see," he said.

Over the past decade, McFarlin has earned a collection of comedy titles like The Funniest Man In Texas, Comedian Of The Year and Campus Performer Of The Year.

He's entertained troops overseas and performed on numerous TV shows including The Late Show, Evening at the Improv, Star Search, MTV's Half Hour Comedy Hour and Comic Strip Live.

He's also made guest appearances on Profiler and ER and in the films High School High and To The Ends of Time. And he's written comedy for Joan Rivers, Johnny Rotten and for the cable TV channels Showtime, VH1 and Spike.

McFarlin doesn't use a lot of profanity in his show but it's definitely adult-oriented. He said he doesn't want a joke to be dependent on bad language, but sometimes a gag works better with profanity.

"Most people who come to comedy shows like more of an edge in comedy so I try to gauge the crowd and base my routine on that," he said. "Humor and cynicism just seem to go together and sometimes using a bad word just makes it sound even more funny."

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514;