The Fat Man Cometh

Comedian Joey Diaz is big on laughs, and on Houston

There are worse things than spending the holidays with a fat, profanity-hurling tough guy -- especially one who just happens to love your hometown. "I come to Houston three times a year at least. I love it," says Joey Diaz in a thick New York accent. Chances are you've seen the rotund actor-comedian on such shows as NYPD Blue and Cold Case and in flicks like Analyze That and Spider-Man 2. The Cuban native is hot off his role in Adam Sandler's upcoming The Longest Yard and will be in town to do some stand-up and to eat and drink. A lot. "You guys have the best fuckin' food in the country," he exclaims from the phone in Miami. "Carrabba's, Berryhill and the meat loaf at Barnaby's -- best fuckin' meat loaf in the country." Diaz even wears his Houston love on his sleeve: "I wore a Lola's T-shirt to the Spider-Man premiere," he says of his favorite local bar. "I'm wearing my Astros hat right now." So, Joe, why not just move here? "It's the goddamn weather," he says. "I can't stop sweatin'. I'm too fuckin' fat." Get a heapin' helpin' of Diaz from Thursday, December 23, through Thursday, December 30. 1952 West Gray. For information and showtimes, call 713-524-2333 or visit www.laffstop.org. $13.50. -- Steven Devadanam

Rub and Rhyme

Get your hands on SCEF's poetic flow

Joey Diaz
Courtesy of Joey Diaz
Joey Diaz
John Richard Johnston and Kelley Stolte
Bruce Bennett
John Richard Johnston and Kelley Stolte
Marion Arthur Kirby and Patty Tuel Bailey
Jeffrey McMorrough
Marion Arthur Kirby and Patty Tuel Bailey

The title of the new CD by Houston's SCEF (a.k.a. Charles Forward) makes a good point: Hip-Hop Is Poetry. Sure, some whitewashed spoilsports diss it as unruly party music. But aficionados and real poets like SCEF know that hip-hop has roots in the storytelling of West African griots, the songs of cotton-field workers and civil rights protest music. Aside from being a rapper and local poetry promoter, SCEF is also a licensed massage therapist, which he says relates to his hip-hop in that both are "excellent methods of relaxing mind, body and soul." SCEF will be celebrating his CD release by performing "Unwrapped: the Autobiography of SCEF" on Christmas Day, so catch this gripping performance at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, December 25, at Eb5 International Art Gallery, 22557 Aldine-Westfield. For information, call 832-483-8788 or visit www.houstonpoets.com. $5. -- Scott Faingold

Toying with Creation

It may sound like a schlocky horror film from the '60s, but The Toys Take Over Christmas is actually a kid-friendly show. In this production from Stages Repertory Theatre, Sunny the rag doll comes to life when the Toymaker sprinkles her with magic dust (though it's unclear why she doesn't just snort it). Soon all the toys are alive, but they're divided by loyalty, rumormongering, secrets and jealousy. Think of them as a stuffed Survivor cast. Bring a new, unopened toy to be donated to Toys for Tots and receive $2 off your admission at 7 p.m. Thursday, December 23. Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-315-2525 or visit www.thehobbycenter.org. $12. -- Bob Ruggiero

Comfort Food

Call it a cup o' Jehovah. In the A.D. Players' O Little Town of Bagels, Teacakes and Hamburger Buns, the faith-based performance troupe enacts the tale of a group of lonely strangers who find unexpected compassion in a coffee shop in Palestine, Texas, on Christmas Eve. The show runs through Friday, December 31. Grace Theater, 2710 West Alabama. For a full schedule, call 713-526-2721 or visit www.adplayers.org. $19 to $30. -- Julia Ramey

 
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