Pity the poor Poles. Is there any other ethnic group subjected to such demeaning humor and jokes? Like "How do you get a one-armed Polack out of a tree? Wave to him!" or "Did you know that Poland just bought 10,000 septic tanks? As soon as they learn how to drive 'em, they're going to invade Russia." In David Ives's comedy play Polish Joke, the ethnic assault is amped up when young Jasiu Sadlowski is given a jolting pearl of wisdom by an uncle: All Polish jokes are true. Drawn from Ives's own experiences growing up in the "Polish Catholic kingdom of South Chicago," the show explores what it means to be a "hyphenated American." Jasiu doesn't value his roots; instead he wants to become Irish and forever escape unpronounceable names, inexplicable customs and "intermittent despair" (not to mention those weird food products). Sure, a whole show that takes unapologetic stabs at the Polish culture may seem one-sided. But Polish is an equal-opportunity offender: WASPs, Jews and the Irish are fair game, too. The Joke previews at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, February 2 and 3. Through February 20 at Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Parkway. For tickets and information, call 713-527-0123 or visit www.stagestheatre.com. $20 to $35. - Bob Ruggiero
The one-woman Shaneequa chronicles the black experience
Film and television actress Stephanie Berry's The Shaneequa Chronicles: The Making of a Black Woman tackles a subject that has been conspicuously absent in popular culture lately (unless the word "booty" is involved). The one-woman show, which landed Berry an Obie Award, tells the sometimes sad, sometimes hilarious tale of Shaneequa, whom we follow from girl-child to full-grown woman. Through song and dance, Berry deftly brings the characters in Shaneequa's story to life: her father, Miss Arlene the Hairdresser, the Bad Boy who awakens her sexual desires, and even assorted neighborhood folks. Her performance promises to bring more drama than her role on TV's Law & Order ever did. 7:30 p.m. Friday, January 28, and 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, January 29. Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby. For tickets and information, call 713-315-2525 or visit www.thehobbycenter.org. $25 to $45. - Felicia Johnson-LeBlanc
More than Mosquitoes
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Until now, Brazosport's biggest claim to fame was its annual Mosquito Festival. But The BLP Power Hour: 32 Short Stories About Brazosport aims to prove that the town has more bite than people think. New stage troupe Brazosport Li'l Players is putting on the show, which follows Cheeto, a soldier who returns home to the town's seamy, sexy underbelly, led in part by Biff, a thriving pornographer. Adding to the surreal landscape are 70-year-old drag queen (and Houston GLBT treasure) Wendy Chicago, a character named the "Leopard Boy" and live "bedroom-pop" music from the Mathletes. 11 p.m. Friday, January 28, and 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. Saturday, January 29. The Axiom, 2524 McKinney. For tickets and information, call 713-522-8443 or visit www.infernalbridegroom.com. $5. - Eric A.T. Dieckman
Blues music can help mend a broken heart, but can it help heal the effects of tsunami devastation? Texas Johnny Brown and the Quality Blues Band think it can, so they've rounded up I.J. Gosey, Pearl Murray, Step Rideau and more than ten other local blues and zydeco groups to sing for the cause. Proceeds go to the American Red Cross. 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, January 30. The Big Easy, 5731 Kirby. For information, call 713-649-3697 or visit www.bigeasyblues.com. $10. - Julia Ramey