The Weekly Wire: This Week's Recommended Events

THURSDAY 11/29

Comedy: A Long Road to Fame

Jerry Brooks, the comedian who goes by J. B. Smoove, has a long list of supporting screen credits, from SNL to The Dictator, but it was Curb Your Enthusiasm that finally brought him broader fame. There he plays Leon Black, the fast-talking, foul-mouthed freeloader who came to live in Larry David's L.A. home after Hurricane Katrina. After David, he's Curb's most quotable character, spouting such pearls of wisdom as "You got long-ass balls, Larry. 'Long Ball Larry'—that's your new name." The most recent season of Curb ended with Larry and Leon crossing the country to stir up trouble in New York City. What happens next? We'll have to wait for season nine to begin. In the meantime, Smoove has been busy with the Comedy Central series Russell Simmons Presents: The Ruckus. On its website (theruckus.com) you can sample extra videos, like Smoove's review of Cloud Atlas, which devolves into him reading a love letter to Halle Berry: "Oh my sweet sugar Berry/I'm the man you should marry/Rubbin' your feet and kiss your ass/Got that perfect touch of class/Leave my wife and change my name/Share your money and your fame/So just pick me, you know you oughta/But first drop that restraining order." (Through Sat.) Parlor Live Comedy Club, 700 Bellevue Way (Lincoln Square), 425-289-7000, parlorlive.com. $20–$30. 7:30 p.m. ERIN K. THOMPSON

FRIDAY 11/30

Stage: Straight Syrup, No Chaser

It was probably inevitable that Will Ferrell's 2003 hit comedy Elf would eventually make it to the stage—and there, inevitably, be a musical. We're only surprised it took so long before reaching Broadway in 2010. The film has become a quotable holiday perennial ("You sit on a throne of lies!"), and we expect that the writers of Elf—The Musical cribbed liberally from the original script. In Ferrell's role of Buddy, the infant wrongly raised at the North Pole among Santa and his diminutive elf cohort, local actor Matt Owen will anchor a mostly native cast, directed by Eric Ankrim. (New York import Kendra Kassebaum plays Buddy's right-sized love interest, aka the Zooey Deschanel role.) Hard to remember, but the movie was actually rated PG. The musical has been sweetened up to more of a G, allowing for the widest possible range of theatergoers. Small kids will dig the chorus line of dancing Santas. Parents can pour themselves a stiff eggnog before the show. Next year we look forward to the 5th's production of Bad Santa—the Musical. (Through Dec. 21.) 5th Avenue Theatre, 1308 Fifth Ave., 625-1900, 5thavenue.org. $43 and up. 8 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

Dance: Three for Ten

Donald Byrd is celebrating his 10th anniversary as artistic director of Spectrum Dance Theater by doing more of what he's done all along—present dance that pushes the edges of the art form. For the Fall Studio Series, he's got a pair of works by local choreographers Olivier Wevers (the premiere of Back, sack and crack) and Crispin Spaeth (a reprise of Only You), and he's adding a premiere of his own (A Meeting Place). Wevers' fluid and sensual style, in a piece examining gender identity and politics, will fit easily next to Byrd's signature high-intensity vocabulary. Spaeth's quirkier physicality, in a dance made originally as a valentine for composer Dale Sather, should make a sweet intermezzo. (Through Dec. 9.) Spectrum/Madrona Dance Center, 800 Lake Washington Blvd., 325-4161, spectrumdance.org. $5–$25. 8 p.m. SANDRA KURTZ

TV: In the Zone

An iconic TV program for baby boomers, The Twilight Zone ran only from 1959–1964, but black-and-white reruns made Rod Serling's show a staple well into the '70s. Yet the Zone never really ended. Along came VHS and DVD, a feature-film anthology in 1983, and Dennis Nyback—the formerly Seattle-based curator of cinematic curiosities who's returning home to host The Twilight Zone Marathon. He'll introduce and screen three episodes in each daily block, projecting them from 16mm prints. (All television shows in the Serling era were shot on film.) Among the highlights are "The Masks," written by Serling and directed by Ida Lupino (the only woman to helm a Twilight Zone episode), in which the greedy heirs of an estate receive a gruesome comeuppance. As producer, writer, or host, the socially conscious Serling (1924–1975) generally insisted on an unexpectedly moral twist ending to each episode. He was a liberal Jew who fought in the Pacific theater of World War II. Rising through radio and live television, he laced progressive themes into his writing—opposing war and promoting racial equality. In a prescient 1972 TV movie he wrote, The Man, James Earl Jones becomes the nation's first black president! You could say the twist ending to that came 36 years later. (Through Thurs.) Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 523-3935, grandillusioncinema.org. $5–$8 (passes $20–$40). 7 & 9 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

Classical/Experimental: Uncaged

John Cage's voice-stretching Song Books (1970) are much closer to a theatrical "happening" than a traditional song cycle—depending on how you interpret his sometimes straightforward, sometimes gnomic performance instructions for texts by Thoreau, Duchamp, Merce Cunningham, and other apostles of the avant-garde. Bringing them to the Henry in Voicing Cage is soprano Stacey Mastrian and co-performer/sound engineer Stephen F. Lilly, both members of Washington, D.C.'s Bay Players Experimental Music Collective. Mastrian, whose fearlessly eclectic repertory includes Rigoletto and The Pirates of Penzance as well as Luigi Nono's anti-fascist opera/manifesto Intolleranza 1960, relishes the scope Cage's music offers. "Although there are definite parameters [in Cage's scores], you never quite know how someone will interpret the specific things that are there," she told me recently. "Most of my training has been [to] learn to do a piece a specific way, [to] get so you can produce it this way all the time. With Cage, I feel like there's more opportunity for play . . . You just have to trust whatever is going to come out at the moment." Plus there's the pleasure of stepping off the Verdi/Puccini career treadmill: "[When] 50,000 people do the same opera aria, it's nice to be able to offer something to people that can leave a lasting impression in a way that other pieces might not." Henry Art Gallery, UW campus, 543-2280, henryart.org. $5–$10. 7 p.m. GAVIN BORCHERT

SATURDAY 12/1

Comedy/Politics: Monday-Morning Quarterbacks

When you think of politics, Adam Carolla is not the first name to come to mind. The veteran comic, who's lately expanded his domain into print and podcasting, generally wants to talk about women, cars, and the general suckiness of middle age. Yet in a kind of post-election, Lincoln/Douglas-debate format, he's agreed to share the stage with right-leaning radio host Dennis Prager. The two will square off about Obama versus Romney, McCain's Benghazi fixation, Nate Silver's predictive perfection, and whatever else comes to mind. (The show also concludes with an audience Q&A, if topics run dry.) How did the unlikely political bedfellows meet? They're both fans of the radio format and have appeared on each other's shows. And apart from party labels, both are traditionalists. On Prager's show, said the avowedly secular Carolla, "I don't understand when common sense and good old-fashioned logic became something we could debate. I agree with some of the stances that are associated with the Democrats. And I agree with some of the stances that are associated with the Republicans. But I sort of cherry-pick." The Paramount, 911 Pine St., 877-784-4849, stgpresents.org. $30.75–$40.75. 8 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

 
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