Cancer can be funny. When a doctor told Robert Schimmel that he had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the comedian quickly replied, "That's just my luck. I get the one that's not named after the guy." Schimmel has been in remission for just over three years, but he still jokes about the struggle in his stand-up routine. "When I got diagnosed, they said, 'Look, if you're open-minded, you might consider smoking marijuana because it'll help with your nausea and your appetite,'" he says. "And my parents are sitting there devastated, and I'm thinking, 'This is a dream come true. I've got a doctor telling my mom and dad that I've got to smoke pot. Where the fuck was this guy 20 years ago?'" Schimmel brings his rare breed of humor to town this weekend, and he hopes his audience will come bearing CDs and games for other cancer patients. "I go out and I donate that stuff to cancer centers in the community where I'm performing," he says. Feel free to smile. 8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 25; 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 26 and 27; 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 28. The Improv, 7620 Katy Freeway. For information, call 713-333-8800. $15 to $17. -- Keith Plocek
Love It or Loathe It
The Last Bastions: Here to stay
For ten years, Charlie Naked and Mike Switzer of the Last Bastions have been combining elements of ambient and improvisational music with, say, noises from clothes dryers, and wadding them up into a massive spitball of sound. Their latest project, Houston -- A Meditation, is a performance-art piece that combines still images, live music and a recording of comments from local artists about their love-hate relationship with our city. "Every year we hear from artists and musicians who are fed up and want to leave town, or who are coming back," says Switzer, who will play trombone plus a bit of keyboards and guitar. "I think of leaving myself every summer when the heat sets in. We try to give some sense of all that." 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 26 and 27. DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway. For information, call 713-223-8346 or visit www.diverseworks.org. $10 to $15. -- Greg Barr
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Drawing from gymnastics, ballet, modern dance, pole-vaulting, the aerial arts and human puppetry, Moses Pendleton's MOMIX dance-illusionist troupe animates the flora and fauna of the southwest desert in Opus Cactus. "What really inspired me was the sight of a giant saguaro cactus," says Pendleton. "I was trying to find what inspired the Hopi Indians to dance their deer dance, to capture the feeling they had in their desert home." Let's just hope none of the dancers accidentally pirouettes into one of those inspirational saguaros. 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, March 25 and 26. Wortham Theater Center's Cullen Theater, 550 Prairie. For information, call 713-227-4SPA or visit www.spahouston.org. $29 to $45. -- Nancy Galeota-Wozny
What Would the Donald Do?
In the Alley Theatre's Life x 3, a well-meaning employee invites his boss over for dinner in hopes of a raise. Problem is, the boss and his missus show up a full day early. Will our hero get the dreaded hand-whip and a merciless, "You're fired"? See three different scenarios play out at 8 p.m. Friday, March 26. Runs through Sunday, April 18. 615 Texas. For information, call 713-228-8421. $20 to $42. -- Steven Devadanam