WAXAHACHIE

Susan Sparks feels the art of comedy has the profound ability to bring strangers together and connect through laughter.

Sparks will share her brand of humor as the headlining act at the Chautauqua Auditorium annual assembly on Saturday.

The assembly’s theme, "Comedy and Humanity," will run from Sept. 27- Oct. 1. It is free and open to the public to attend. Events on Saturday start at 8 a.m. and Sparks will take the stage at 11:30 a.m.

Sparks has developed her comedic stylings from life experiences as a trial lawyer turned preacher. She first looked at comedy as a way to connect with a jury.

“I would go to court and watch these good ol' boys get in front of these juries, and they were all funny,” Sparks said. “They were able to have these juries laughing within the first minute or two they were talking with them. I thought that I have got to learn to do that.”

Comedy helped Sparks transform the way she communicated with people in a very personal, yet humorous way. The technique has helped her to connect with parishioners at her home church, Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York City, during happy and difficult moments.

“My congregation loves to laugh, and they laugh out of a sense of joy and hope. I have a congregation that is not big or rich, but it is small and very modest,” Sparks said. “Laughter helps them stand a little straighter and reminds them of hope and love that is in the gospel.”

Sparks shared at her church, as well as in the comedy show, she works to relay that message of hope to her audience. In today’s world, Sparks feels humor is something that is desperately needed — daily. She also noted people are “hungry to laugh” not from tearing each other down, but the laughter that builds someone up.

Sparks is a part of the Laugh in Peace Comedy Tour and works alongside Rabbi Bob Alper and Gibran Saleem. Through the tour, Sparks has learned a lot about herself and others around her and continues to work to bring people together.

“As you know, I am on tour with a rabbi and Muslim comic. We use humor to build bridges to show our commonality to bring very diverse audiences together and demonstrate our common shared humanity,” Sparks said. “People are not sure what to expect but, if I do my job right within the first couple of minutes, shoulders start to drop, and people start to relax. They then leave seeing us a very different light.”

Sparks added when you laugh with somebody — even for a split second — both people's worlds overlap, connecting them together.

In her set 45-minute set called, “Laugh Your Way to Grace,” Sparks will show audiences how humor empowers people in their personal and work lives and on the spiritual path that they are traveling. She hopes attendees walk out of the show full of hope and inspiration.

Copies of Sparks’ book, “Laugh Your Way to Grace: Reclaiming the Spiritual Power of Humor,” will be available for purchase at the show for $20.

For more information about Sparks, visit her website at www.susansparks.com or her church’s website at www.mabcnyc.org. Information about the Laugh in Peace Tour can be found on its Facebook page. Sparks’ syndicated column can be read on the Daily Light’s website at www.waxahachietx.com.

Additional information about the assembly can be found at www.waxahachiechautauqua.org. The auditorium is located at 400 S. Grand Avenue in Getzendaner Park.