A month or so ago, Night & Day placed a moratorium on coverage of local improvisational comedy troupes. It's not that we don't like some of them or that we're not fans of the idea in general. No, it's just that every theater, comedy club, bar, and restaurant in the Dallas area has its own group of comedians and actors trying to make people laugh based on suggestions from the audience. If we're not mistaken, even our apartment complex was looking into starting its own group and presenting shows every Friday night around the pool. And it's difficult to tell one from the other; every press release looks exactly the same, and so do the photographs that accompany them. Our comedy listings are overflowing with average white bands of comics promising that they are the most original troupe in town. Every show is different! You never know what will happen! Uh, whatever. If you've ever seen Who's Line Is it Anyway--either in its ABC or Comedy Central incarnation--you know exactly what will happen. Some are a bit better, others are a little worse, but for the most part, they're all the same. That said, we'll break our self-imposed silence to tell you that The Texclectic Radio Hour (and a Half), former Ten Hands frontman Paul Slavens' mix of unrehearsed music and comedy made to sound like a live radio broadcast, comes to Club Dada on Thursday. What's so different about The Texclectic Radio Hour (and a Half) you ask? Well, not much. But this week, Slavens and the cast--including Hillary Tipps, Kritstin Williams, Jim Kuenzer, Robert McCollum, and Kelly Higgins--welcome The Dooms U.K.'s John Freeman and Jon "Corn Mo" Cunningham, two musicians whose presence is enough to make any show worthwhile. So don't get your hopes up, Backdoor Comedy, Ad-Libs, Pavlov's Dogs, and all you other comedy groups out there. We're shutting up again. The Texclectic Radio Hour (and a Half) begins at 10 p.m. at Club Dada, 2720 Elm. Admission is $10. Call (214) 744-DADA or the Texclectic Hotline, (972) 713-2700.
There are certain locations in every city where no business ever works. One such business Bermuda Triangle is at the intersection of Elm and Crowdus, which changes hands more than most dollar bills. Every few months, some brave soul comes along and promises that this time, this time, everything will be different. And usually, the only thing that really is different is the amount of money lost. With that in mind, we'd like to wish the owners of The Blackout Lounge the best of luck on making a go of it. God knows they'll need it. This weekend, the nascent club hosts its grand opening, featuring The Commercials, Chomsky, and Neon Girl on Friday, and the tomorrowpeople, Blue October, and Sugarbomb on Saturday. You're off to a good start, fellas. Just keep a suitcase packed. Doors open at 8 p.m. $5. Call (214) 741-7665.
If it seems as though the Dallas Museum of Art's Arts & Letters Live series has a permanent slot in Night & Day, it's because it does. Why shouldn't it? Every one of the shows Arts & Letters Live has put together for its eighth season--from humorist David Sedaris' appearance in early March to the stellar Texas Bound readings--has been excellent. And this week is no exception, as the DMA presents two fine writers, novelist Mary Gordon, author of last year's frequently brilliant Spending: A Utopian Divertimento, and local poet Jas. Mardis. We'll stop mentioning Arts & Letters Live when it stops deserving it. Don't expect that to happen anytime soon. Gordon comes to the DMA's Horchow Auditorium, 1717 N. Harwood, at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The event is sold-out, but released tickets may be available 45 minutes prior to the show for $13-$15. Call (214) 922-1219 or (214) 922-1220. Mardis will lead a free young-adult workshop for aspiring poetry and prose writers from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at the J. Erik Jonnson Public Library, 1515 Young. To register, call (214) 670-1760 or (214) 943-1099.
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The decrease in film production costs has brought about the rise of the independent filmmaker, but let's face it, it's also led to some horrid films. Remember this rule of thumb: Just because a film is playing at the Inwood or the UA Cine (on Central Expressway and Yale) doesn't mean it's good. We can't begin to describe how many times we've been burned on that one. If you think you can do better, and you probably can, come to the Hollywood Film Institute's Two-Day Film School Crash Course this weekend, the only Texas stop on its spring-summer tour. Taught by HFI founder S-S Simens (S-S? Cómo se dice "pretentious"?), the course covers the complete process of independent filmmaking, from the production side to business issues such as financing and distribution. You probably won't be completely ready to begin shooting your first film after the course, but, hey, you'll probably be able to make a kick-ass video of your next family reunion. The course runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at the MPS Studios on Regal Row. Enrollment is $289. To register, call toll-free (877) 463-4375.
The USA Film Festival blew us off when it came to covering this year's event, and never has a snub felt more like someone doing us a favor. But that doesn't mean we can't still play together. Especially when it comes to the First Monday Classics series, which we have always maintained was a better substitute for the series of screenings the festival presents every year. If you're going to present movies most people have already seen, you might as well show good ones. This month's offering is 1935's Top Hat, starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The film celebrates the late Astaire's 100th birthday, and it's a fitting tribute, one of the finest films made by one of the finest screen couples. If only the real festival was more like this. Alonso Duralde, are you listening? Top Hat screens at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the AMC Glen Lakes Theatres, 9450 N. Central Expressway. Tickets are $7, $6 for USA Film Festival members. Call (214) 821-FILM.
Nude portraiture has been one of the mainstays of photography ever since the first camera was invented. Yes, even before Hugh Hefner created Playboy and Larry Flynt took it a step further with Hustler. Photographs Do Not Bend Gallery takes a look at the history of the form with an exhibition simply titled Nude, featuring a wide range of 19th- and 20th-century photography with nude subjects, including works by such notables as William Mortenson (who shot women wrapped in plastic long before David Lynch imagined Laura Palmer), George Hoxie, Anne Brigman, and Eadweard Muybridge. And remember, looking is one thing, gawking is another. Nude opens on Friday at Photographs Do Not Bend Gallery, 3115 Routh, and continues though June 5. Call (214) 969-5464.
Frank X. Tolbert's latest exhibit at The MAC, Berlin/Paris/Texas is all about finding strange things in strange places. So 1988's Bagdad Cafe is the most complementary film The MAC could have chosen to screen as part of its Wednesday Night Film and Video Series in conjunction with Tolbert's exhibit. The German film is almost like a moving version of Tolbert's work, focusing on a stranded Bavarian tourist and the odd clientele she finds when she enters the lonely diner of the film's title. Come for one and stay for the other. Bagdad Cafe screens at 8 p.m. on Wednesday at The MAC, 3120 McKinney. Admission is $5, $3 for MAC or Video Association of Dallas members. Call (214) 953-1212.