Admit it: You're just not getting enough primates in your entertainment lately. The folks at Theatre Illuminata understand. At their performance/fund-raiser "Circus Ruckus Cabaret," you can hang with, snap photos of and share grooming tips with a guy in a gorilla suit. Keep an eye on him, as he'll pop up in a sort of simian Where's Waldo game during a screening of short films. The roster includes Flamingo Pants Dancing in Shallow Waterby Stephanie St. Sanchez, which showed recently at FotoFest. A kind of who's who of local alternative art groups, the Ruckus includes musical gigs by Two Star Symphony and the Magic Bullets. Listen for tunes by vocalist Elizabeth Stuart, who recently played the lead in alt-theater group Slump's All Female Cast Western Musical. Fans of puppets (freakish puppets, anyway) can also delight in Bobbindoctrin Theatre's tease of their upcoming Puppet Liberation Frontshow. Catch illusionist John Cash Carpenter and his carnivalesque eye games and fire-spinning, or get into ring toss, basketball toss and other circus games. Reserve a seat or just sit on the circus's stacks of hay, and go ape -- this party's for a good cause. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, September 18. Commerce Street Artists Warehouse, 2315 Commerce. For information and reservations, call 832-216-3916 or visit www.theatreilluminata.org. $10 to $50. -- Steven Devadanam
If you're yawning at the current invasion of poppy Latin musical acts (see Enrique Iglesias, Marc Anthony and just about anyone else), progressive flamenco rockers Del Castillo may just wake you up. Since their inception in 2000, the Austin-based sextet has played to eager audiences across the country, earned a handful of 2003 Austin Chronicle awards and even appeared on the soundtrack to director Robert Rodriguez's Once Upon a Time in Mexico. In a show that he's poised for the big time, vocalist Alex "El Lobo" Ruiz's live antics and wardrobe have drawn comparisons to Aerosmith's front man -- he's even been dubbed the "Latin Steven Tyler" by fans. (We're still not quite sure that's a compliment.) The show opens with Los Skarnales at 9 p.m. Friday, September 17. Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak Drive. For information, call 713-862-3838 or visit www.fitzlive.com. $10. -- Don Juan Corzo
Who the Hick?
If you've seen M*A*S*H, Coach, The Drew Carey Show, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Home Improvement or pretty much any other television show ever, then it's likely you've seen Blake Clark. The comedian has made a career, it seems, of being "that guy," by appearing in supporting roles in dozens of sitcoms and movies, including the Adam Sandler films 50 First Dates and The Waterboy. Still, Clark's his own man, and he often jokes about his time in the army and his Southern heritage. ("We got a name for sushi in Georgia: bait.") This weekend at the Laff Stop, Clark takes center stage himself for once. 8:30 p.m. Thursday, September 16. Through Saturday, September 18. 1952 West Gray. For a full schedule, call 713-524-2333 or visit www.laffstop.com. $16.50 to $20. -- Julia Ramey
Missed P. Diddy's Broadway debut in Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun? If you can handle your theater without the bling, head to the University of Houston School of Theatre, where the school's Jose Quintero Lab is revisiting the classic tale about an African-American family's struggle to overcome poverty and prejudice. Opens at 8 p.m. Friday, September 17, and runs through Monday, September 20. Entrance no. 16 off Cullen Boulevard. For information, call 713-743-2929 or visit www.uh.edu. Free. -- Steven Devadanam