If you grew up in the '90s, you probably remember actor Dustin Diamond as the lovable geek, Screech, from the teen sitcom “Saved by the Bell.”
But if you watched the news last Christmas, you also know him as the guy who made national headlines for allegedly stabbing someone in a Wisconsin bar fight.
Now, the 38-year-old actor is making headlines again, but this time for something more positive.
Diamond – who played Screech for more than 10 years – will perform two comedy shows at the Harrisburg Comedy Zone on New Year’s Eve and Jan. 2.
The Jan. 2 show will be Diamond’s last performance before he serves four months in jail for charges related to the bar fight.
Diamond would not comment on the bar incident or trial in a recent phone interview except to say he plans to return to comedy as soon as he's able.
"I hope that my ultimate and final step away from standup will be from not wanting to be away from my kids," he said.
The bar incident isn’t the first time Diamond has made headlines in recent years.
Since “Saved by the Bell,” the actor has released a sex tape, appeared in reality TV shows and published an insider story that portrayed his fellow “Saved by the Bell” cast and crew in a negative light.
But now, Diamond's main focus is on comedy.
“For me, being known for ‘Saved by the Bell,’ and now … starting to get associated with being great at comedy is really heartwarming for me,” he said.
He got his start as a comedian by accident at age 21.
It was about five days after the “Saved by the Bell” wrap party, and Diamond said he had no idea what he was going to do next.
While on a date, he came across an improv comedy club, where a friend was headlining. As a joke, the headliner introduced Diamond as the next act, and Diamond was forced to perform a short standup act off the cuff.
“I (was) terrified,” he said. “It was only like three to five minutes, which doesn’t seem like that much now, but when you have nothing prepared, it was an eternity.”
Diamond managed to get some laughs by being witty, but after it was over, he said he felt embarrassed and frustrated.
“I decided out of pure frustration that I’m going to do it again until I conquer this fear,” he said. “Once I can say, ‘I showed you,’ I can be satisfied with it. Little did I know I was embarking on a new career that would stand the test of time.”
November market Diamond’s 18th year as a standup comic.
He now performs 47 weeks out of the year and said his goal is to “travel all (across) America and give places that don’t get a lot of comedy … a chance to get great comedy.”
When he comes to Harrisburg, Diamond said fans can expect to hear funny stories about things people encounter every day. But, he also likes to bring up a few taboo subjects.
“Whenever something is really gross out there, I bring it up on stage,” he said. “And then, if it grosses the audience out, it’s great. They leave that night and have nightmares, and I leave completely happy and sleep like a baby.”
Diamond has been to Harrisburg before and said he’s excited to tell jokes there again.
“The people in Harrisburg are fantastic,” he said. “I’m looking forward to spreading love and comedy joy and meeting new friends.”
If you go
What: Dustin Diamond
When: Doors open at 7:30 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Dec. 31 and Jan. 2
Where: Harrisburg Comedy Zone, 110 Limekiln Road, New Cumberland
Tickets: $20 for show only; $100 per couple for dinner, show, live music and champagne toast at midnight. Additional hotel packages are also available.
More information: Visit harrisburgcomedyzone.com.