Funny Business

Comedians congregate in West End

7/27

Dallas' landscape features giant boobs on tiny bodies, monstrous Hummers in MINI-sized parking spaces and sprawling McMansions on lots where teensy Tudors once sat demurely. This town is one big punch line, so how did it take so long for the first Dallas Comedy Festival? But now that it has arrived, expect funny companies (ImprovOlympics, ComedySportz), funny names (Frankenshane, Uphill Both Ways, The Chicken & Pickle Guys) and funny situations (women trying to grow old gracefully in a youth-obsessed world, being gay in the South, balancing Iranian heritage with American life) with 30 comedy troupes, 60 stand-up comedians and about a dozen comedy workshop teachers. It's the best of Dallas (Pavlov's Dogs, Punch Drunk Comedy, Paul Slavens, Dave Little, Section 8) and more when the rest of Texas joins in with comics from Austin, Houston and Fort Worth playing, along with ones from other American comedy hot spots such as Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta and Kansas City. The festival begins July 27 with Family Night with shows at 7 p.m. (Commedia dell'Carte') and 8 p.m. (a battle between ComedySportz DFW and ComedySportz New Orleans). Over the next four days there will be themed showcases of stand-ups (the Most Eligible Bachelors perform at 11 p.m. Thursday, and the Dirty #@%! Standup Showcase is 9 p.m. Friday) and special events such as The Mixer, an improv jam and party at midnight Thursday. Workshop instructors include Charna Halpern, who founded ImprovOlympics; Late Night with David Letterman's Eddie Brill, who also performs at 9 p.m. Saturday; and Randy Bennett, who was in The Groundlings with Phil Hartman and Paul Reubens. Dallas comedians can have their spotlight, and wannabes can learn how to get it--Lord knows they have enough material in their own back yards. The Dallas Comedy Festival is July 27 through July 31 at the West End Comedy Theatre, 603 Munger St. in the West End MarketPlace. Tickets are $10 per show ($20 for Eddie Brill's headliner performance), $35 for a four-show pass, $65 for an eight-show pass or $99 for an all-access pass. Workshop registration is $20 to $50, varying per event. Call 214-880-9990 for tickets and workshops. --Shannon Sutlief

Negin Farsad in Bootleg Islam
Negin Farsad in Bootleg Islam
Jorge Martinez Photography
Linda Blase

Green Is Blues

7/22

Here I am! I'm tired of being alone, and after all this time, I'm still in love with you. Let's stay together. Call me. You know you ought to be with me. We'll endure years of love and happiness, even when we're far apart and I can't get next to you. If you haven't caught on by now, I'll clue you in: I'm desperate to get my ex-boyfriend back and have decided to use the Dallas Observer and Al Green's greatest hits to do so. Maybe if I'm lucky, he'll even join me for the Blue Shoe Project concert on July 22 at the Will Rogers Auditorium, 3401 W. Lancaster Ave. in Fort Worth. The Reverend Green himself will be there performing for the best of causes: the education of any unfortunate young whipper-snappers who have thus far never experienced the glory that is sweet soul music. Combining "blues curriculum" with live performances, the folks at the nonprofit Blue Shoe Project say their mission is to "educate future generations about the impact blues has had on American culture." Al Green's one-night-only engagement, part of the fund-raising concert series, starts at 8 p.m. Ticket prices range from $35 to $200. Visit www.blueshoeproject.org. --Andrea Grimes

Piece of Pico

7/22

When you don't have a satellite dish or cable, limited reception necessitates you become well acquainted with rabbit ears and Univision. By watching the telenovelas regularly, you can develop your Spanish-speaking skills...or a deep self-loathing from comparing yourself with those notoriously gorgeous Latinas. From Rosario Dawson to the Evas (Mendes and Longoria) to America Ferrara, the year of the Latina is in full swing. Just ask Chula Cholula, Dallas' second-favorite chef extraordinaire who was born a man, but now wears women's clothing (unlike Monica Greene, Chula is a drag queen, not legally a woman). In Pico de Gallo: The Return of the Queen, the crazy, fun and interactive sequel to Martice Enterprises' original play, Pico de Gallo: The Comedy Con Spice, Chula is back and shim's getting married. The show will run at 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from July 22 through August 5 at the Latino Cultural Center, 2600 Live Oak St. Tickets are $15 to $20. Call 214-750-7435 for reservations. --Stephanie Morris

The Chong Show

7/22

The unthinkable has happened: Tommy Chong has sworn off pot. Machine-gun-wielding federal agents kicking in your door can make you rethink a few things, apparently. That episode, a typically Ashcroftian overreaction to Chong's online bong sales, led to nine months in the pokey and renunciation of the sweet leaf (though Chong may be blowing smoke--the guy's still on probation). Stoners revere Chong even as they mourn the squeaky-clean reincarnation of his former partner Cheech Marin. The divergence began when Marin scored a cop role on the late-'90s show Nash Bridges. Interesting side note: Marin played opposite Don Johnson, who narrowly won the Sonny Crockett part on Miami Vice over Larry Wilcox, partner of another '70s Latino icon, Erik Estrada, on CHiPs. Now Marin promotes his touring Latino art collection and does celebrity golf tournaments, while Chong is a 67-year-old ex-con doing stand-up. See if he's kept his sense of humor when he performs at 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Friday and 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Saturday at Hyena's Comedy Night Club, 605 Houston St. in Fort Worth's Sundance Square. Tickets are $10 to $15. Call 817-877-5233. --Rick Kennedy

Slamdango

7/24

The world gets us down, man. Bombs go off, people get AIDS, children go hungry--total bummer. At first, we thought therapy would help us deal, but the doc was a total buzzkill. So we split to the woods for a weekend retreat to clear our heads and reconnect with nature. Borrrring. Now, we think we have it. We're channeling our rage through our words, even more so than when we write about motocross rallies and cooking classes. We're talkin' poetry, baby. Dig it: "Trinity River/Trickles down like a knife in our heart/And, oh, the Man, he's building a bridge.../But not to it--through it. Killing it./Our heart's getting paved like/When you left us and took all our/Janis Joplin CDs. Drive as fast as you/Want, Laura Miller, but these tears won't/Fill your river." Please, please, hold your applause and snaps. Save them for Sunday's Lonestar Sunday Showdown Regional Poetry Slam at Club Clearview, 2806 Elm St. For $7, you can hear poets who actually have something to say as teams across Texas compete for the chance to go to the National Poetry Slam in Albuquerque in August. Call 972-841-1738. --Sam Machkovech

Wiz Biz

7/22

When we get past the flying monkeys and melting witches, it's easy to relate to The Wizard of Oz. Who has never felt deficient in heart, a brain or courage? Who hasn't been disappointed when a great and powerful wizard is really just a short guy and a control panel? Luckily, the Lollipop Guild and Dorothy's really cool shoes keep the mood from getting too heavy. The Wizard of Oz is performed at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays from July 22 to July 31 at the UT-Dallas Theatre, Campbell Road between Waterview Parkway and Floyd Road in Richardson. Admission is $12 to $18. Call 972-690-5029 or visit www.rctheatre.com. --Stephanie Durham

Wrecked

7/26

Knowing that all the actors on the Elizabethan stage would be male, Shakespeare didn't hesitate to have a little fun adding multiple layers of gender-bending to comedies such as Twelfth Night. When twins Viola and Sebastian are separated by a shipwreck, each assumes the other is dead. Alone in a foreign land, Viola assumes the disguise of a young man, Cesario, and enters the service of Count Orsino. The count is wooing Olivia, who falls in love with Cesario while Cesario, of course, is enamored with Orsino. So while male actors dressed as women are pining for male actors dressed as women disguised as men, the long-lost Sebastian turns up, adding further confusion. Untangle this web of mistaken identity at the Junior Players presentation of Twelfth Night at Samuell Grand Amphitheatre, 1500 Tenison Parkway, from July 26 through July 31. Curtain is at 8:15 p.m. and admission is free. Call 214-526-4076. --Michelle Martinez

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