Chris Sparks is an Army veteran who could speak Arabic, a former police officer, and a current stand-up comic. More than that, he’s an incredibly affable, humble, intelligent, and ambitious guy. His documentary Thank Me for My Service: A Veteran’s Cry for Help is a tough watch. It is tough technically – intentionally – and it is tough because of its subject matter – which is Chris himself.
The film captures a two-day period this past August when Chris finds himself in a manic state due to the meddling and persistent worrying of his family. Their worry is not without cause – Chris has a TBI and is bipolar. But Chris’ focus is on developing his one-man live show (of Thank Me For My Service) and he needs a few days of isolation to develop it, but instead has to navigate psychiatrist appointments and arguments. It should be the stuff of comedy – especially since Chris is a stand-up comic. It screams for the irreverence of Jack Nicholson or the fevered outbursts of a young Michael Keaton.
Chris opts to take it all at face value and seriously – which seems very reasonable considering that the events of the film are still so fresh and raw in his mind. If comedy is tragedy plus time, the film needs time. That said, it is undoubtedly raw, poignant, and memorable, a worthy addition to the conversation about PTS, suicide prevention, and the treatment of veterans in the healthcare system. With time and distance from these events, I think there is comedic gold in Chris’ life and experiences. But Chris is just getting started. I think his next steps will be ones to watch, and I, for one, can’t wait to see what they are.
Chris writes regularly at The Havok Journal in addition to hosting Profiles in Havok. He is a former nightclub bouncer, firefighter, corporate security trainer, and prison chaplain. He has done stand-up, been homeless for extended periods of time, had screenplays optioned, and gotten married. He was also in the military and spent 33 months in foreign combat zones, earning a Bronze Star in Afghanistan. He has written one book, edited another, and is working on a third. He can be reached at Savage Wonder.