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21 Best Things to Do in Houston This Week: Defective Comedy and Jerry Seinfeld

Comedian Christopher Titus brings his one-man show, Born With a Defect, to Houston Improv this weekend.
Comedian Christopher Titus brings his one-man show, Born With a Defect, to Houston Improv this weekend.
Photo courtesy of Christopher Titus
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Tuesday, January 10

It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. For more than 20 years, David Doubilet and Jennifer Hayes have spent their time capturing breathtaking photos to help tell the story of marine life and everything that happens under the sea. They’ll be in Houston for a lecture titled Coral Kingdoms and Empires of Ice, the second installment of National Geographic Live’s four-part series, with the goal of sparking understanding about the world around us. “We photographed everything starting at the equator and working our way to both of the poles,” says Hayes. “We take the audience on a journey from the coral reefs of Papua, New Guinea, to under the Arctic ice where we meet a lot of cool creatures. What we’re doing is telling the ‘real’ story behind the story: the good, the bad, the ugly, the humiliating, the successes and the failures.” 7:30 p.m. January 10. Houston Symphony, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit houstonsymphony.org. $15 to $65. — Sam Byrd

Two book deals came together at once for Gary Clark and Kathy Adams Clark, forcing them, in an effort to meet the accelerated deadline (which they did), to tour around Texas just a little bit. “We drove 6,000 miles in three loops in seven months,” says Kathy Clark, the photographer for Backroads of Texas: Along the Byways to Breathtaking Landscapes and Quirky Small Towns and Book of Texas Birds. Her husband, Gary Clark, an avid birder, is the main scribe for Texas Birds and tells us, “I didn’t want to write a typical field guide. There are a gazillion of those, where there’s a photo of a bird and sidebar of facts. I wanted to write a narrative of facts because you reach more people with stories. To me, every bird has a story.” Kathy supplied the images for each, including Backroads, which takes readers off the interstate and into some of Texas’s weirdest spots. 7 p.m. January 10. Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-523-0701 or visit brazosbookstore.com. Free. — Steve Jansen

Wednesday, January 11

Not only did John Biggers leave his mark on Texas Southern University, but the muralist and educator also inspired generations of emerging and established artists during his 34 years as a professor. Now Sally Reynolds has tracked down almost two dozen of his former students, ranging in age from their fifties to their nineties, in curating a new exhibition for Arts Brookfield, “On My Journey Now — The Legacy of John Biggers,” which includes early works by Biggers. “One of the collectors said to me, ‘There will never be another exhibit like this,’” says Reynolds. “[Biggers] always communicated to his students that everyone is on their journey and it’s an important journey to take.” Expect to see universal themes of man’s connection with nature and the universe, as well as feminine symbols of birth and rebirth. There’s an opening reception from 5 to 6:30 p.m. January 18. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. January 11. Continuing 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. January 11 through April 3. Two Allen Center. For information, visit artsbrookfield.com. Free. — Susie Tommaney

Thursday, January 12

Beethoven took his disgust with a ruling tyrant — Napoleon Bonaparte — and turned it into his last piano concerto, Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Opus 73, more commonly known as the Emperor. Though he was disillusioned by Bonaparte’s destruction of his homeland, Vienna, the composition instead projects both strength and optimism. The Houston Symphony is presenting Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto with internationally acclaimed pianist Behzod Abduraimov, making his Houston Symphony debut, and guest conductor James Gaffigan of the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra. Strauss (Don Juan, Opus 20) and Liszt (Les préludes, Symphonic Poem No. 3) round out the program. Kristen Bennett, Houston Symphony’s public relations coordinator, says, “The technicality of the Emperor piano concerto — paired with Strauss’s adventurous tone poem, Don Juan, and the beauty of Liszt’s Préludes — will surely inspire everyone present.” 8 p.m. January 12 and 14, 2:30 p.m. January 15. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit houstonsymphony.org. $25 to $136. — Natalie de la Garza

Friday, January 13

No subject is taboo for comedian Christopher Titus: He's tackled racism, domestic violence and his own biggest screw-ups, including an early stint portraying Darth Vader for children's birthday parties. His sixth comedy special, Angry Pursuit of Happiness, premiered on Comedy Central in 2015, daring to poke fun at the Pope, his father's ED problem and, in the darkest of humor, the Boston Marathon bombing. In spite of having a deep well of material from which to draw upon, he prefers to deliver new content while on tour; Titus in the past has told us he doesn't want to be "that guy." He hates seeing comics stuck in a rut, dredging up jokes so old the comedy club waitresses are mouthing the act. For this weekend's stop in Houston, Titus is performing his newest one-man show, Born With a Defect, which he promotes as 90 minutes of "therapy" for parents and "birth control" for childless couples. 8 and 10:30 p.m. January 13, 7 and 9:30 p.m. January 14, 7:30 p.m. January 15. Improv Houston, 7620 Katy Freeway. For information, call 713-333-8800 or visit improvhouston.com. $25 to $35. — Susie Tommaney

Instead of dinner and a movie, how about lunch and some performance art? Choreographer, dancer and singer Marisol Monasterio, named one of Houston Press’s 100 Creatives in 2012, has developed a new multicultural dance titled Towards the Gypsy Roads (Hacia los Caminos Gitanos). It’s one of the first offerings in the month-long Dance Month at the Kaplan Theatre, presented by the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, as part of its “Arts in the Afternoon” initiative. “She has really taken the flamenco and shown how all these different cultures came together,” says ERJCC dance director Maxine Silberstein, of the mash-up of Ladino poetry, Sephardic and Flamenco dance, Spanish guitar and the raw vocals of cante hondo (deep singing). Dance Month continues through February 12 with film, master classes, performance art and workshops. 1 p.m. January 13. 5601 South Braeswood. For information, call 713-729-3200 or visit erjcchouston.org/dancemonth. $8 to $12. — Katricia Lang

Balé Folclórico da Bahia returns to Houston with the fiery heat of Brazilian folk dances, samba-reggae and capoeira, performing works inspired by the creation of the universe (as interpreted by the African religion Candomblé) and the seductive goddess of the sea, Lemanjá, often summoned by fishermen hoping for an abundant catch. In addition to music that draws from traditional Bahian folklore, compositions include works by Antônio Portella, Jorge Paim and the rhythmic beats of Carnaval. “The company will complete its 29 years of existence this year in August,” says Walson Botelho, company founder, general director and co-choreographer. “And for all this time the challenge remains the same: Bringing [Bahian popular cultural] values to the whole world, spreading our authentic and traditional culture.” The 38-member group of dancers, musicians and singers, under the artistic direction of José Carlos Arandiba, have performed in more than 200 cities across the United States since debuting here in 1996. 8 p.m. January 13. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-227-4772 or visit spahouston.org. $43 to $103. — Katricia Lang

Two years ago, Shabach Enterprise’s S. Denise O’Neal realized two things: Houston had no platform to showcase new works from black playwrights, and she found most reading series boring. So the Fade to Black Reading Series (her two-birds, one-stone solution), now in its second year, is more like a workshop with a DJ where actors can go off-book and use a prop or two. O’Neal has selected nine plays — some topical, some controversial — but each, O’Neal says, brings the series closer to representing “the fullness of the African-American experience.” She singles out Cops Lives Matter by Ishmon Brown, a Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner-style set-up from the perspective of a white cop meeting his black girlfriend’s family for the first time. “I have to be brave enough to let it flow, bold enough to put it onstage.” 8 p.m. January 13 and 14. The MATCH, 3400 Main. For information, call 713-521-4533 or visit fadetoblackfest.com. $15. — Natalie de la Garza

In a family of overachievers, it’s hard to stand out, but Daniel “Danny” Simmons Jr. succeeded as artist, philanthropist, co-founder of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, gallerist and poet. But it’s his persona as neo-African Abstract Expressionist that brings the older brother of hip-hop’s Russell Simmons and rapper Joseph Simmons (“Rev. Run” of Run DMC) to the Houston Museum of African American Culture in “BADASS ART MAN: A Conversation Between the Art of Danny Simmons and his Collection.” John Guess Jr., HMAAC’s CEO, says that Danny reflected on both his own works and his collection to come to the realization, “You know, I’m a badass art man.” Guess describes the 40-object exhibit — which includes photography, African sculpture and works by artists such as Mickalene Thomas and Kara Walker — as an investigation into Danny and what makes him tick. There’s an artist talk at 1 p.m. January 14. Continuing 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Wednesdays; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays. January 13 through February 25. 4807 Caroline. For information, call 713-526-1015 or visit hmaac.org. Free. — Susie Tommaney

Similar to Mary Poppins' magical carpet bag, EaDo Playhouse is attempting the impossible, cramming the entire history of the Great White Way into Every Broadway Musical Ever the "musical." Heads will be reeling as the breathless cast rushes, in 60 seconds or less, to summarize and sing their way through Broadway favorites including The Beggar's Opera, Oklahoma!, Paint Your Wagon, Spring Awakening (which they're launching at the end of this month) and Kismet. It's not all reminiscing, though. Audience members also get a preview from Hamilton, which should tide us over as we, patiently, wait for it to come to Houston in April 2018. The cabaret-style production is brought to us by Luke Hamilton and company, presented in two 45-minute acts. 8 p.m. January 13 and 14, 5 p.m. January 15. 2619 McKinney. For information, call 832-210-5200 or visit EaDoPlayhouse.com. $25. — Susie Tommaney

Jerry Seinfeld headlines the grand opening celebration at Smart Financial Centre.EXPAND
Jerry Seinfeld headlines the grand opening celebration at Smart Financial Centre.

Saturday, January 14

What’s the deal with Jerry Seinfeld? He’s one of the richest men in entertainment, his self-titled series is perhaps the greatest sitcom in history and he seems to spend most of his hours in utter luxury — either in a car, drinking coffee or talking comedy. The man’s status as a legend in his field is pretty safely secure, so why in the name of all that’s holy is this icon making his way down to Texas? Can’t you almost hear him asking, “Who needs that kind of aggravation? You gotta pack, fly halfway across the country, figure out lodging, arrange a car service — to say nothing of the pressure to deliver!” Not worth it, lesser men might say, but Seinfeld is no ordinary man and he’s a stand-up who loves stand-up too much to stay home. He’s doing a practice lap in Austin Friday night, then two shows in Sugar Land at the brand-spanking-new Smart Financial Centre. 7 and 10 p.m. January 14. 18111 Lexington, Sugar Land. For information, call 281-207-6278 or visit smartfinancialcentre.net. $65 to $150. — Vic Shuttee

The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is giving Houston something to hoot about. The 155-acre urban nature sanctuary is hosting its regular Adult Only Owl Prowl for birdwatchers and nature lovers alike. Outdoor enthusiasts (age 16 and older) are invited to get up close and personal with the owls, via a curated presentation from the Wildlife Center of Texas. Then, they can enjoy a walk through the western edge of Memorial Park to discover Houston’s own flora and fauna. The tour is designed for watching and learning about our feathered friends, but other creatures, like bats, armadillos, opossums, raccoons and coyotes, might make possible cameos. The arboretum’s Christine Mansfield tells us, “The wildlife center has native species, so these animals are things you could potentially find in your backyard. We’re acquainting folks with their local wildlife.” If birds aren’t your thing, the complimentary wine and beer won’t hurt. 4:30 to 7 p.m. January 14. 4501 Woodway. For information, call 713-681-8433 or visit houstonarboretum.org. $30 to $45. — Sam Byrd

The works of major United States composers Philip Glass, George Gershwin, John Corigliano and Samuel Barber will spring to life with Mercury’s newest multimedia-infused concert, American Skies. The string orchestra follows the country’s timeline, all told with not just moving music but also projected visuals that tell the story of the ever-shifting American skyline. “It’s based on several themes. We go through the history of America with a focus on the sky,” says Artistic Director Antoine Plante. “We see the first immigration to the States, then the introduction of trains, the building of the skyscrapers and finally space exploration.” A team of dancers as well as projected visuals and still frames help round out the full-bodied experience. While the music may or may not be familiar, the visuals help tie everything together to enhance the overall experience. Arrive early at 7:15 p.m. for a special pre-concert lecture by Plante. 8 p.m. January 14. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-533-0080 or visit mercuryhouston.org. $19 to $68. — Sam Byrd

Tom Dugan’s one-man play, called simply Wiesenthal, takes place as famed concentration camp survivor/Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal speaks to an assemblage of visitors to his office in The Jewish Documentation Center in Vienna, Austria. Dugan, who wrote and stars in the critically lauded play, uses the 90 minutes to alternate between a personal memoir of Wiesenthal’s time during and after the camps and the insight of a detective story into a few of his more memorable Nazi-hunting investigations. Dugan dips his writer's toe into the well for brief, arresting flashbacks of what transpired during the war. We watch as Wiesenthal agonizes over the Nazis’ taking his mother away; we listen to him send his unusually blond-haired, blue-eyed Jewish wife off to Warsaw thinking she’ll be safe there; we hold our breath as he describes the time he almost lost his will to keep going. Dugan also makes sure we get our fill of the Nazi-hunting narrative: Wiesenthal chased down and brought to justice 1,100 Nazi war criminals. Shame plays a large part in Dugan’s script and is Wiesenthal’s explanation of everything, from how normal people become savages to why he himself can’t really trust anyone or let the war go. It wasn’t Wiesenthal’s Nazi hunting that attracted Dugan to his story, but rather the man’s message of tolerance that went along with it. It’s a message that any audience member, from any cultural background, could benefit from hearing. 8 p.m. January 14. The Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice, Galveston. For information, call 800-821-1894 or visit thegrand.com. — Jessica Goldman

For the thousands who cross the finish line of Chevron Houston’s 5K, half-marathon or full marathon, the accomplishment is thrill enough. For others, that’s where the fun begins. Join the racers and their sideline supporters afterward at the 2017 We Are Houston RunFest, presented by Michelob Ultra. The post-race hoopla entertains spectators, serves as a meet-up spot, and provides entertainment for family and friends. Houston’s Astros, Dynamo, Rockets and Texans, along with several Houston-based organizations and nonprofits, are offering interactive games and activities for participants to enjoy. “It’s a fun celebration of the runners, and it is so great for runners who visit from all 50 states and over 40 countries each year,” says Wade Morehead, Houston Marathon Committee executive director. Bonus: It’s a great way for newbie runners to network. 7 to 10:30 a.m. January 14, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. January 15. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. For information, call 713-957-3453 or visit chevronhoustonmarathon.com. Free. — Sam Byrd

Sunday, January 15

Whether television’s Friends conjures up personal memories of what you were doing during the show’s ten-year run, or you’ve adopted one of the characters as your spirit animal totem, or perhaps you recently fell down a rabbit hole binge-watching on Netflix, there’s no denying that the series influenced our culture, introduced new catchphrases and set the bar for sarcasm (thanks a lot, Chandler Bing). So when playwright Breanna Bietz ran across an article about the show’s heavy influence on society, she latched onto the theme for her next play. Cone Man Running Productions is presenting the regional premiere of Insomnia Cafe; the premise is that a couple of super fans try to live out the show in real life. “They kidnap someone to play the role of Chandler,” says Bietz, who likes taking things on the screen and filtering them back onto the stage. 2 p.m. January 15. Continuing 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. January 12 through January 28. Obsidian Theater, 3522 White Oak. For information, call 281-972-5897 or visit conemanrunning.com. $15 to $18. — Susie Tommaney

There’s no better place to hear Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf than at the Houston Zoo, where the sights and sounds of the live animals build excitement and anticipation for the indoor concert to come. In what has become an annual tradition, ROCO is partnering with Interactive Theater Company as narrators and actors to present this classic tale in which the Wolf is represented by French horns and the gunshots of the hunters by timpani and bass drum. “It’s a full family experience. Adults remember it,” says Alecia Lawyer, ROCO’s artistic director. “In the original production, the violinist is Peter, but here the whole ensemble is Peter. It’s edgy; the music has character.” In a nod to the zoo’s initiative for promoting wolf conservation, the Wolf character has been changed to a timber wolf. 2, 3 and 4 p.m. January 15. 6200 Hermann Park. For information, call 713-665-2700 or visit rocohouston.org. Free to $18. — Susie Tommaney

The Wilde Collection, those purveyors of the macabre and avant-garde, are kicking off the new year with a Beginners Tarot Workshop, presented by Mystic Society and led by Kat Burson. In the three-hour class, learn why the Four of Wands is considered positive (reflecting hard work and good results), why the Ten of Coins often references financial or family matters (or both), and how the Major Arcana Death card doesn't necessarily signify physical mortality. There's limited seating for this one, but after an hour of instruction you'll be armed and ready to do both a reading for yourself and another attendee. Practice up with take home merch — including a tarot deck, history, handbook and templates — then become the most interesting person at your next gathering with family and friends. 6 p.m. January 15. The Wilde Collection, 1446 Yale. For information, call 713-931-1904 or visit facebook.com/thewildecollection. $75. — Susie Tommaney

Monday, January 16

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s contributions to the Civil Rights Movement are so monumental, just a single parade won’t do justice to his legacy. That’s why Houston has two. The 39th Annual “Original” MLK, Jr. Birthday Celebration, presented by the Black Heritage Society, kicks off downtown at Minute Maid Park, 501 Crawford, with the theme “Reparations Equals Value…and Justice For All.” 10 a.m. January 16. For information about the 39th Annual, call 713-236-1700 or visit blackheritagesociety.org. Free. — Sam Byrd

Houston's other parade that celebrates the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. kicks off at the same time over in Midtown. The 23rd Annual MLK Grande Parade starts off at San Jacinto and Elgin with the themes of “Celebrating Our Diversity” and “Committed to Excellence in Community Service.” Co-grand marshals are Tina Knowles-Lawson and Richard Lawson, and this parade honors attorneys Benjamin Crump and Ricky Anderson. 10 a.m. January 16. For information about the 23rd Annual, call 713-953-1633 or visit mlkgrandeparade.org. Free. — Sam Byrd

Booze and bad decisions form the narrative for this latest offering from Cone Man Running Productions: Sunday on the Rocks, written by Theresa Rebeck (Spike Heels, The Family of Mann and Loose Knit). One lovely Sunday morning, instead of reaching for the Cheerios, three housemates decide to have scotch for breakfast. Their respective problems — an unwanted pregnancy, a stalker and a general malaise — are exacerbated when the fourth roommate, a pious teetotaler, shows no sympathy. Fueled by alcohol, the quartet at times joke then argue, and soon come to the realization that there are no easy answers. This full-length comedy is directed in Houston by Christine Weems and stars Autumn Clack, Ruth McCleskey, Katherine Rinaldi and Whitney Zangarine. 8 p.m. January 16. Continuing 8 p.m. Sundays through Wednesdays, January 16 through January 25. Obsidian Theater, 3522 White Oak. For information, call 281-972-5897 or visit conemanrunning.com. $18. — Susie Tommaney

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