Ventriloquism helps Jeff Dunham overcome his shyness. When he was seven, the comedian gave a book report on Hansel and Gretel; he spent only a few minutes discussing the book and devoted the rest of his half-hour to lampooning his classmates. He made an A-plus. "I started doing book reports, shows for Sunday school, civic groups," says Dunham. "It just kept going from there." Still shy offstage, Dunham has gone on to win a number of awards, including Ventriloquist of the Year and the American Comedy Award for Funniest Male Stand-Up Comic. Dunham's kooky characters include the crabby Walter, the smart-alecky Peanut and the self-effacing José Jalapeño ("on a stick"). He has also added some new lads to the pack. There's Melvin the Superhero; says Dunham, "He has no powers, he's not very smart, but he wants to be a superhero." When asked if he can stop a speeding bullet, Melvin answers hesitantly, "Well, once." There's also another fella we've been seeking for some time now. When asked if his new character, Osama, gets along with the other guys, Dunham explains, "They make him sleep in a different part of the trunk." 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 11 and 12. The Laff Spot, Texas Highway 249 at FM 1960. For information, call 281-955-9200 or visit www.laffspot.com. $24.50. -- Eric A.T. Dieckman
| A play blends reality and illusion
Ah, summertime. The season of barbecues, afternoons by the pool, lemonade and suspense. As the Alley puts on its annual summertime Agatha Christie thriller, A.D. Players will raise the curtain on a chiller of its own, Angel Street. Written by Patrick Hamilton, the suspenseful play had its first run in London in '38. A few years later, it was adapted to the screen in Gaslight, starring Charles Boyer and the oh-so-alluring Ingrid Bergman. Directed by A.D. artistic director Jeannette Clift George and set in 19th-century London, Angel Street tells the story of a woman who seems to be losing the ability to distinguish reality from illusion. Is she crazy or has something wicked this way come? Can she trust her enigmatic husband? What about those sneaky servants? Is there really an investigation by Scotland Yard under way? Audience members themselves will leave wondering what's real. 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 2:30 p.m. Sunday matinees, from Friday, July 11, through August 17. A.D. Players' Grace Theater, 2710 West Alabama. For information, call 713-526-2721 or visit www.adplayers.org. $18 to $26. -- Eric A.T. Dieckman
A new production looks back at the island's glory days
Folks in Galveston are damn proud of the city's legacy, taking every opportunity to remember the days when hookers, illegal booze and gambling ruled the town. Two of the island city's most colorful (wink wink, nudge nudge) characters, brothers Rose and Sam Maceo, get the star treatment in Galveston, the Musical. The clever original production spans the years 1910 to 1942, culminating in the year the Maceos opened the island's famous den of iniquity, the Balinese Room. Back then, G-town was the largest city in Texas, and people called it the New York of the South. The play runs at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, with 2:30 p.m. matinees on Saturdays and Sundays, from Friday, July 11, through August 3. Strand Theatre, 2317 Ships Mechanic Row in Galveston. For information, call 409-763-4591. $25 to $35. -- Greg Barr
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Boy wants girl. Boy's servant sets boy up with girl. Boy screws it all up. In this case, the boy is also The Bungler. Molière's first major play is a five-act affair filled with situational comedy and rhyming couplets. Criticized by Voltaire upon its 1658 Paris premiere, The Bungler was nevertheless a success and sparked the career of a great playwright. 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays from Thursday, July 10, though Saturday, July 19. Theatre One, 3517 Austin. For information, call 713-718-6570. $5 to $8. -- Troy Schulze