Paul Mooney The man behind Homey the Clown, and not at all coincidentally some of the finest comedy of the last 20 years, brings his scathing, insightful standup to Rushion McDonald's club. Mooney got his comedy start by running away to join the Charles Gody Circus, where he became the first black ringmaster in America. Then he co-wrote Richard Pryor's Saturday Night Live skits and Pryor's first three albums. (Which is not to say that Pryor is anything less than an original American genius. Just that Mooney is justifiably a legend among the few comedians who are good.)
As grateful pupil Sandra Bernhard says, "It's Mooney's time now, and not a moment too soon." Mooney, most recently the original head writer for In Living Color, has been part of television comedy as a contributor to shows from David Susskind to BET's Our Voices. As a standup, Mooney has opened for acts as diverse as Miles Davis and Connie Stevens, but his song remains the same whether his withering insights are skewering Michael Jackson or Woody Allen. "It is time to be real," he says. "It is late in the day. Fuck the bullshit.... I don't want a piece of the pie. I want the fuckin' recipe." This is a very special event -- no discounts, no passes, and you ought to pay extra for the privilege. 8:30 p.m. Hip-Hop Comedy Stop, 4816 Main, 437-8444. $12.
Crazykilledmingus This band named after a bad cat accident has drawn big crowds in the past -- the young'uns dig 'em -- and I expect that the addition of Brandon Becker can only help. These Jane's Addiction wannabes emphasize that bringing in this new rhythm guitarist gives the band "a more solid, CD-quality sound." The ambitious alternative kids share a bill with locals Badger and Butthole bassist Jeff Pinkus' project Daddylonghead (which shares a taste for Germanically constructed, spaceless band names). 8 p.m. The Abyss, 5913 Washington, 863-7173. $7.
Sand sculpture exhibition This ain't no piddly kid's castle; this is the eight-day work of a current world-champion sand sculptor and his team of local carvers. Mark Mason, the master builder of this 1,500-cubic-yard creation, has whiled away the hours putting together sand sculptures on beaches from Canada to the Caribbean. With a little help from the public -- who are welcome to lend a hand with the sculpting -- the sand monolith will be finished in time to be displayed during the American Institute of Architects/Steelcase Sandcastle Competition on June 4. Sculpting runs from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. beginning today at R.A. Apffel Park on the east end of Galveston Island. Free.
Pan-African Cultural Festival The SHAPE Community Center presents the 15th Annual Pan-African Festival celebrating the cultures of the Ashananti, Fulani, Ibo, Kikuye, Luo, Mandinka, Masaai, Tuareg, Zulu and other peoples of the continent. The theme for this year: "The World Is Our Village... Experience the Culture." Like any proper festival, this pan-African celebration has food -- authentic African, Caribbean, African-American and Jamaican foods, all good for the body and good for the soul. Crafts and arts will be sold in the Afrikan village marketplace, and children will enjoy the Watoto, an area with storytelling, games, dress-up and crafts. The main stage features music beginning at noon. Today and tomorrow, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Hermann Park, Miller Outdoor Theater & Reflecting Pond area, 521-0629.
Van Cliburn and Eschenbach Legendary pianist Van Cliburn has worked with the Houston Symphony previously; in 1947, at age 12, the junior maestro performed here after winning a statewide competition. A decade later, he won the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow -- which led to his being the first musician honored by a New York ticker-tape parade -- and the rest is history. Van Cliburn has not worked with the Houston Symphony since 1974. Tonight's is an all-Russian program including Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1. 8 p.m. Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2005 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands, 629-3700. $10-$50.
Purlie Victorious The Ensemble Theatre's revival-season favorite is revived once more, for a special performance at the Pan-African Festival. As we wrote when Purlie was presented by the Ensemble in April, the play's sympathies embrace a cheerfully sentimental vision of integration, culminating in a church service updated by the company to include an invigorating jazz-choral version of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" oration that gathers in the audience. It's definitely a dream with a happy ending, from a time long ago and a place far away. It would be interesting to know what the playwright himself (Ossie Davis) thinks of his youthful endeavor. Purlie belongs to a world that, in retrospect at least, seems much simpler than our own, and its gentle optimism rested on the conviction that racial harmony was just around the corner. That dream has been too long in coming true. 8:30 p.m. Miller Outdoor Theater, Hermann Park, 521-0629. Free.