Though it's nestled in a strip center off of I-45, the Comedy Showcase, a venue that often takes a backseat to the Laff Stop and Improv, has developed a good share of local comedic talent. The enormous Ralphie May cut his (exceptionally large) teeth at the venue. And the legendary T. Sean Shannon, Bill Hicks and Billy D. Washington all have spent time honing their skills there. Today, Washington, a triple-threat comic who sings and dances and will let loose on anyone or anything, headlines Belly Full of Laughs, the Showcase's annual charity drive for the Houston Food Bank. Watch the good-guy Washington laff it up for a very non-laughing matter at 7 p.m. 11460 Fuqua, suite 300. For information, call 281-481-1188 or visit www.thecomedyshowcase.com. $5, or donation of two nonperishable food items.
Friday, December 3
Sugar Land resident and UH student Brandon Stanley may be the biggest thing that Houston has never heard of. The 23-year-old singer-songwriter is a study in making it away from home: His single, "If I Fell," is slowly climbing radio charts all over the country, beating out U2's "Vertigo" as the most requested song in a few markets. "I love that, I think it's cool," he says of his relative local anonymity. "When people find out, they're like, 'Hey, you're on the radio,' as opposed to, 'You're on the radio, I want to get to know you.' I guess you know that people like you for who you are." Fresh from a Nashville tour, Stanley is releasing his new album, Songs from the Middle Lane, tonight at the Meridian. With another tour and plans for a new video in the near future, this local boy may just be making good. Meet Stanley at 7 p.m. 1503 Chartres. For information, call 713-225-1717 or visit www.meridian houston.com. $7, includes free CD.
Saturday, December 4
Say what you want about Houston's DJ scene, but one thing's for sure: There's no shortage of badass visiting talent. Case in point: Tommie Sunshine. The artist, remixer, producer, label owner, DJ and songwriter who calls NYC home has worked production for acts like Pink, Junior Senior, Kelis, Felix Da Housecat, Fischerspooner and other performers with serious club cred. Señor Sunshine also has played a private party for Björk in Iceland and electroclash festivals in New York. Now he's taking the tables here at Union Bar and Lounge, adding his mix to "Degeneration," a new monthly show. Also on the bill are the Spinnin' Kitties, Dustin Swint and the Butterfly Diva Dancers. Get your dose of Sunshine at 9 p.m. 202 Tuam. For information, call 713-529-5296 or visit www.unionbarand lounge.com. $10.
Sunday, December 5
Less heady than typical operas and far less cliché than the lovable ole Nutcracker, The Little Prince is one of the few stage shows that can truly captivate today's ADHD generation. How? The story. What kid wouldn't pay attention to things like a plane crash in the desert, an intriguing young prince, talking trees, a touchy-feely fox and a smooth-talking snake? So lavish is Houston Grand Opera's version of the classic tale by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry that the Press named the show Best Musical in 2003, thanks to the late Maria Bjørnson's sets and costume designs. Today the show opens with local kids Jeffrey Allison and Jeffrey Walter sharing the lead role. See HGO's impressive version of the children's classic today at 2:30 p.m. Through December 19. Wortham Center's Brown Theater, 501 Texas. For information and showtimes, call 713-228-6737 or visit www.houstongrandopera.org. Tickets start at $40; rush tickets (purchased before 4 p.m. day of show) $15 to $30.
Monday, December 6
At 25, Hiromi is a modern jazz marketing dream. She goes by a single-name moniker (which adds intrigue), and her hair's a cross between anime chic and Robert Smith on a humid day (sexy!). Unlike many jazz artists, she's actually interesting to watch, but like most virtuosos, Hiromi started playing piano at a young age (six) in her native Shizuoka, Japan, and never looked back. By the time she was 14, she was playing with the Czech Philharmonic. Three years later, she performed on stage with legendary jazzer Chick Corea. After writing commercial jingles for Nissan and some other big-time Japanese companies, Hiromi entered the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she parlayed her wide range of influences (mainstream jazz, jazz-rock fusion and classical) into a signature, envelope-pushing style. Straight-ahead jazz has been aching for someone this hip to usher in the next wave of talent, so catch this young rising star at 7:30 p.m. at the Menil Collection, 1515 Sul Ross. For information, call 713-524-5050 or visit www.dacamera.com. $30.
Tuesday, December 7
We know you haven't been doing enough eating and drinking this holiday season. Today, you can chill out on the roof of Scott Gertner's Skybar, sip some cocktails and feast on a "buffet extraordinaire" -- all for a noble, productive cause. Your admission goes directly to Elves & More, a local nonprofit organization that aids underprivileged kids. The group's goal is to surprise 20,000 Houston-area kids with brand-new bikes and other gifts. Skip the mall, lounge on the roof, and tell your conscience that you're helpin' a kid get a new bike 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. 3400 Montrose Boulevard. For information, call 713-520-9688 or visit www.scottgertner.com. $20.