Conrad Lawrence: Is this comedy? We just don't know. Whatever it is that Conrad Lawrence does, he's done it for years and people laugh. The question is, does he know what he's doing? Is he having us all on? Is this, like, way PoMo commentary on the genre of standup comedy? Or is Conrad Lawrence a loon?
Conrad's cult followers, a spottier group than Star Trek fans, eagerly await his every performance and quote "'Radisms" with fevered glee. "Radisms are alarming non-sequiturs like this gem: "They say men want to marry women who remind them of their mothers. I've seen my mother. I'm going to adopt." What can this mean?
There's a section of Conrad's act -- his food hunk -- with, intentionally or not, a couple of great laughs. Speaking to the crowd about Rocky Mountain Oysters, he says, "You know what those are, donÕt you? That's when they make the bull Jewish." It gets worse. This cunning gastronome observes that rattlesnake meat "is the only food you have to kill first before you eat it."
You know it's a real "Radism when, even when you know what a 'Radism is, you think you must have heard wrong. Oooh! If there's a celebrity death during the week, Conrad is sure to say something about poor old so-and-so who's now "sleeping with the lizards." And what might he make of O.J.? Thru July 24. 8:30 p.m. Thursday & Sunday; 8 & 10:15 p.m. Friday & Saturday. Comedy Showcase, corner of I-45 and Fuqua (one block north of Beltway 8), 481-1188. $6.50-$8.50. Two-drink minimum.
Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus The singing ringmaster might frighten impressionable children or high-strung women. Otherwise, the Greatest Show on Earth is still all really cool and spangly and has a Globe of Death and trapeze artists and spineless acrobats and snowcones and cotton candy.
The circus has two camels, two llamas, four zebras, 18 elephants and 33 horses. In just one week, these creatures eat seven tons of hay, 900 pounds of sweetfeed and oats, 1,200 pounds of carrots, 750 pounds of apples, 294 loaves of bread -- and the elephants get 1,400 pounds of elephant chow. These well-fed animals do what all well-fed creatures do eventually, and the result is regularly cleaned from their cages. Gardeners are invited to come on down and haul off all they can carry. Interested in exotic additions for the compost heap? Show up 11 a.m.Ð1 p.m. today at the corner of Norfolk and Timmons.
To see the show, daily thru Sun., get your tickets from the Summit box office. 961-9003. $10.50-$15.50 plus special group rates and special deal shows.
Mason Ruffner Mr. Gypsy Blood himself brings his guitar, which is all he needs, to Surfside for a fine show. Better Texans enjoy this sort of music according to a ritual as exacting as a Japanese tea ceremony.
Preparations are of the utmost importance. Cut out of work early, being careful not to bring all the suntan lotion, towels and etc. that you need. Hit the beach at four. At this hour you're too late to be fried to a crisp but have plenty of time to get all salt-water sticky and sandy and burn enough to be uncomfortable for the next couple of days.
As the sun sinks slowly in the west, 'bout 8:30 p.m., pull your clothes on over your swimsuit. Drive, being careful not to do anything effective to protect your car seat from your wet-bathing-suited butt, and being careful to get sand all over the car floor, to Del's.
Mason Ruffner is scheduled to take the stage at 9:30 p.m. You should have time to stuff yourself to a point three beats from nausea. Del's serves dangerous food, and on a cool deck washed by Gulf breezes. Have too much barbecue, smoked sausage and nachos.
The final, most important and spiritually satisfying step involves beer -- beer in long-neck bottles actually stored on ice. Some slack partiers skip everything but the final step. They're just trash. If you're gonna go enjoy Mason Ruffner, you gotta act right. Del's Lookout, 106 Yucca Ave., Surfside Beach, (409) 239-2666. $5.
Turbo, we hardly knew ye While the remaining members of the NBA Champion Dream Team bask in glory, some, perhaps those most responsible for the ascension of our team to its current rarefied height, are reduced to cameo appearances. Turbo, like Joan Crawford on The Lucille Ball Show, will no doubt do his best in this post-stardom appearance. Turbo is scheduled for "a spectacular half-time performance" at the UH Game of Champions. Will he get a little trampoline, do a nostalgic slam-dunk? Can this be the deposed mascot's first step on the comeback trail? Hey, maybe with that American Gladiators name he can find a spot on TV.
Guy Lewis, Cadillac Anderson, Otis Birdsong, Louis Dunbar and Hakeem Olajuwon are also on the roster. 7:30 p.m. Hofheinz Pavilion, University of Houston, 743-9444. $10, $5 youth.
Hemlock Society A support and discussion group for those who want to be done in by their own hand, if need be. You need not have a fatal disease to attend. Think: who among us has not lost at least one loved one to a car accident or cancer? The terrors of this world, and our amazing life-support technology, make it easy for anyone to end up bereft of anything recognizable as life, yet still warm. The truly enlightened and compassionate might well spare their relatives -- and the increasingly ineffectual health-care bureaucracies -- the trouble of trying to decide what to do with their carcasses in that twilight zone between the death of the soul and decomposition of the squishy stuff.
Find out about your options -- a directive to physicians is one. (Sending in the clones, at this point in technology, is not.) Life is ugly; death is worse. Both are unavoidable and those who seek the good will manage both with equal grace and dignity. 3-4 p.m. 2607 Bissonnet #204, 523-9211. Free.
One Minute Ax! DiverseWorks brought you Twelve Minutes Max; now Zocalo Theatre goes them one better with One Minute Ax!. Houston performance superstars such as Bill Kelly, mystery performers and "drive-by performances" add up to an evening of theater custom-made for Attention Deficit Disorder sufferers.
The fiends at Zocalo have motives beyond one-upping DiverseWorks. "Do you hate performance?" they ask rhetorically. "Great! You'll have 60 performers to hate!" Sam Jones of DiverseWorks wields the ax for this frantic evening of performance art. 8 p.m. Zocalo Theater, 5223 Feagan, 861-2442. $5.
Comic book signing The artists and writers of Houston-area Tempest Comics will be at the only comic store open till midnight. Midnight Comics is more than a comic bookstore; it may be the only thing to do at night on the west end of town. The signing is from 2 p.m.- midnight today. (Also Sunday, noon-8 p.m.) Midnight Comics, 13155 Westheimer, #134, 293-0226. No admission.
Super Blues Party Come out and see the legends: Leonard "Low-Down" Brown hosts this blues jam, which follows the Houston Blues Society membership meeting and annual elections. If you know anything about blues musicians, you won't be surprised to learn that the meeting notice mentions a lack of qualified candidates for treasurer. Four great candidates are running for director, however, so it could be a thrilling election. Those swamp-dwellers who care not how blues are promoted in Houston can show up as the sun sets and enjoy the jam.
"When our business is finished," HBS President "Sonny Boy" Terry Jerome
ays, "it'll be time for music, fellowship and fun!" Meeting at 4 p.m. Jam follows. European Tavern & Garden, 3926 Feagan, 868-1084. Free.
Music Awards Our own Brad Tyer and the lovely and talented Dayna Steele from 101 KLOL will be arm-in-arm, officiating at the cumbersomely titled 101 KLOL Houston Press Music Awards Show. We're given that Tyer will be sporting a zoot suit and a fedora; Dayna is more coy about her planned ensemble.
Those merry monkeys of metal, dead horse, are the main band. Dave Catney and the Rounders offer their diverse musical stylings and a happy crowd will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see Keenlies play the Music Hall. Oh, and all of the fine and forthright Houston Press readers who cast votes will find out how their favorites fared. 7:30 p.m. Music Hall, 810 Bagby. For more information, call 468-6824, access code 1994. $12 at the door.
Post-awards party The same crowd in less-formal straits. Dancing to the lava lamp's light! Drink beer, or Lite Ice, behind garage doors! After the music awards hoo-hah at Fabulous Satellite Lounge, 3616 Washington, 869-COOL. No admission; usual cash bar.
Charlie Shannon & Andy Huggins: This is comedy We know. Andy Huggins is recently returned, meaning Charlie Shannon is no longer the funniest comic in Houston. Shannon and Huggins are both classical acts Ñ they get up on the stage and tell you jokes and stories. A novel evening, really, two guys on stage at a comedy club telling jokes that are truly, deeply funny and stories that are actually about something. It'll be great: you'll laugh and laugh and then remember what they said, what their comedy was about, the next day and maybe even for a whole week!
The boys have slightly different styles. This is food bank night, admission for one adult is two non-perishable food items. Bring in food that you, yourself, wouldn't deign to eat at your own risk. Charlie Shannon will rag you endlessly, and not like your nutty co-worker who always cracks people up. Shannon is a professional. Huggins takes another tack. Calmly, innocently, Huggins will push his glasses down on his nose, peer at you and ask why you would do such a thing. And everyone will laugh at you. These guys are Beavis and Mr. Chips, style-wise. That would be Beavis in his later years, braces off and after much time on the Barcalounger with a six-pack.
Commuters are already familiar with Shannon's comedy. His Wedge Weird News Service pipes jokes and commentary to dick-head DJs all over the map. Huggins sells yucks, too. He wrote possibly the best conspiracy theorist joke ever. Readers may recall Oscar host Billy Crystal ribbing Oliver Stone by announcing that the puffed-up auteur of JFK was about to film a remake, The Men Who Shot Liberty Valance. 8 p.m. Tonight thru July 28. Laff Stop, 1952 West Gray, 524-2333. $6.50. Two-drink minimum.
Bilingual Storytelling Series for Children La Llorona, folk tales and urban myths will be presented every Wednesday afternoon at the Orange Show, a folk art foundation much devoted to children.
This storytelling dovetails neatly, by design, with the City of Houston's summer lunch program. Nutrition and the post office, subjects dear to the original Orange Show artist's heart, are part of this. Founder Jeff McKissack, letter carrier and self-taught artist, constructed The Orange Show to celebrate his philosophy of good health and nutrition. (Oranges, rightly, figure heavily in his theory. Cafeteria food, startlingly, also has a large place.) McKissack is gone, but nutrition remains: kids from one to 18 who live in the 77023 zip code can get a free lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekdays.
Children from more fortunate financial backgrounds can spend their allowance in the gift shop. Squeaky pickles are sold -- a steal at 50¢. Pocket change from rich or comfortably middle-class kids helps keep the Orange Show going. Que suave! Every Wednesday, noon-1 p.m., thru Aug. 17. 2401 Munger, 926-6368. $1 adults, 12 and under free.