Thursday, January 13
Being the sole African-American guy on Comedy Central's Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn can be tough on a comedian, but Patrice O'Neal seems to take it in stride. Perhaps the Bostonian has a knack for shrugging off blatantly racial jokes from guys like Quinn and feisty fellow cast member Nick Di Paolo. Or maybe it's because the dude is six foot five and weighs 300 pounds. Either way, O'Neal can bring the laughs, whether it's bits on being black in America, or a dead-on impersonation of an Eastern European gymnast who quietly recounts her difficult upbringing and training. Hang out with the big guy at 8:30 p.m. today. Show continues Friday and Saturday, January 14 and 15, at 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. The Laff Stop, 1952 West Gray. For information, call 713-524-2333 or visit www.laffstop.com. $15 to $18.
Friday, January 14
We have to admit that when we saw a show billed "Happy Nude Year," our thoughts quickly turned to an overdue movie we'd rented last week. However, the "Nude" show at Anya Tish Gallery is strictly art -- specifically nudes photographed, painted, drawn and sculpted. Works include sepia-tone photographs by Russian photographer Andrey Chezhin and self-portraits by Houstonian Suzanne Banning. Stylized nude women are the subject of Polish artist Maja Berezowska's ink drawings and Houston sculptors Margaret Losinski and Saida Fagala's bronze and porcelain works. You'll also find paintings by Dmitri Koustov and Saul Balagura and mixed media by Orna Feinstein. Meet the artists (and thank them for giving you a much classier spot to spend Friday night with nudes) from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. 1740 Sunset Boulevard. For information, call 713-524-2299 or visit www.anyatishgallery.com. Free.
Saturday, January 15
Bob Randall has a warning for the health-conscious and potential protesters. "Look at the tomatoes you get in the grocery stores these days," says the executive director of Urban Harvest. "If you throw them against a wall, they don't splatter. They just sort of smush. They're not natural." Randall and company, who promote the development of gardens and orchards, are offering fresh, naturally grown, non-mutated fruits, vegetables and fruit trees at their annual Fruit and Tree Sale. And hey, should a rally come up against some corporate or political bigwig (or a lousy comedian), you'll be all the better armed now, won't you? 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Urban Harvest, 1900 Kane. For information, call 713-880-5540 or visit www.urbanharvest.org. Free.
Now that you've done your body good by procuring fresh, organic produce, trash the hell outta your system at the Jet Lounge. Tonight, DJ Mikey Mike will spin as you kick back with the swank crowd and let your eyes glaze over before the flat-screen TVs, fiber-optic lights, mosaic tiles and -- oh, yeah -- the hotties. Hang with the jet-setters and tell 'em all about your new fresh-fruit hangover cure at 9 p.m. 1515 Pease. For information, call 713-659-2000 or visit www.jetloungehouston.com. Free.
Sunday, January 16
Today you can get three examples of the Middle East's best cinematic offerings at the Iranian Film Festival at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. At 3 p.m. catch the family-friendly The First Letter, a taboo teen love story set in 1970s Iran that follows an adolescent Muslim boy, Emkan, who's positively smitten with Massoum, a Jewish girl. Following Letter at 5:15 p.m. is Mama's Guest, a slapstick comedy centered on a family bent on throwing the perfect banquet for a newly married nephew. The Unfinished Story, which screens at 7:15 p.m., is a take on immigration and poverty in the Middle East, as a film crew finds itself teamed up with smugglers and illegal aliens. (Note to would-be marathoners: The festival runs through January 23, so you don't have to sit through all three flicks today.) Brown Auditorium, 1001 Bissonnet. For a full schedule, tickets, showtimes and information, call 713-639-7531 or visit www.mfah.org/films. $6.
Monday, January 17
Martin Luther King Jr.'s contribution to society was much greater than securing us a day off from work and school. If you're looking for a way to honor the late clergyman, head to the Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration at the Rohtko Chapel. Actress Melissa Waddy-Thibodeaux will perform stories of the Underground Railroad, which will include storytelling, singing and a Q&A session to illustrate the experiences of slaves escaping to the northern United States in the 1800s. The Sandra Organ Dance Company also will perform "Freedom Bytes," a spiritual and portions of their upcoming "I Have a Dream" Black History Month Concert. In the feel-good spirit of brotherhood, we suggest mixing and mingling with friends and strangers alike after the show at the chapel's intimate reflecting pool. 7:30 p.m. 1409 Sul Ross. For information, call 713-524-9839 or visit www.rothkochapel.org. Free.
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Tuesday, January 18
Thankfully, modern music is rid of Creed, the schlocky, pseudo-Christian band that made us wince every time lead singer Scott Stapp croaked his Eddie Vedder-ripoff vibrato over the airwaves. However, Creed has a legacy, as the group's success spawned a flurry of power rock band signings, including Jacksonville, Florida's Shinedown. Singer Brent Smith, guitarist Jasin Todd, bassist Brad Stewart and drummer Barry Kerch have had success pushing their 2003 offering, Leave a Whisper. Though they sound like pretty much everything else on "alternative" rock radio, we'll give them a little love for having some old-school flavor in their mix (a little Metallica never hurt anyone). See the boys from J-ville rock it at 7 p.m. The Meridian, 1503 Chartres. For tickets and information, call 713-629-3700 or visit www.meridianhouston.com. $15.
Wednesday, January 19
Arthur Miller is an American artistic icon and arguably the greatest living playwright of our time. Now, in honor of his 90th birthday, the Alley Theatre is saluting Miller with a two-play tribute, beginning this week with After the Fall. The cerebral drama is set in the mind, thought and memory of a lawyer, Quentin (played by Alley veteran James Black). The tortured Quentin examines his two failed marriages and the haunting memory of a disastrous affair with a needy sex symbol, Maggie (played by former Miss America Kate Shindle). The play is autobiographical, as Maggie is based on Marilyn Monroe, Miller's ex-wife. We think Miller, who's being honored all over the country this year for his dramatic genius, also deserves praise for proving that you don't have to be an insanely hot movie star to marry an insanely hot movie star. Thanks to you, Artie, we bookish, bespectacled artsy guys are all waiting for our bombshells. 8 p.m. Through February 6. 615 Texas. For tickets, showtimes and information, call 713-228-8421 or visit www.alleytheatre.org. $40 to $54.