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The Five Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Laughter, Lights and Pythons

Comedian Pablo Francisco has been everywhere, man. The 42-year-old impressionist, far from being travel-weary from stops in Norway, Los Angeles and Nashville, is “pumped” to be bringing his riffs on pop culture to the Houston Improv this Friday night, and we're equally pumped about his full arsenal of celebrity voices including Liam Neeson, Michael J. Fox, Chris Rock, “the Allstate guy,” even Kermit the Frog (who Francisco says is “just like doing Boz Scaggs”). Francisco grew up idolizing the comics of Carson’s Tonight Show and “videotaping segments off David Letterman, Evenings at the Improv and, once I got cable, VH1’s Comedy Spotlight.” After some encouragement from former college roommate Jamie Foxx, Francisco took his comedy to the next level when he joined the cast of MADtv. When asked for his favorite road story, Francisco has an instant reply. “I was in Romania a few months ago, and I saw Steven Seagal. He had a bunch of guys with him and [Seagal] said, “We’re making a movie about people getting eaten by dogs.” That was about the craziest moment of my life.”

8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday; 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday; 7:30 p.m. Sunday. 7620 Katy Freeway. For information, call 713-333-8800 or visit improvhouston.com. $22 to $32. 

Great ideas seem to flourish late at night after a few too many drinks at the bar. Rarely do those whiskey-infused epiphanies live to see another day, but, for William N. Copley and his brother-in-law, opening a Surrealist art gallery in Beverly Hills in the late ’40s seemed brilliant at the time. Though the gallery closed six months later, the failed endeavor led to a lifetime of collecting, as well as Copley’s own artistic career. His work includes the “Noun” and pornography-inspired “X-Rated” paintings, as well as political and psychosexual themes. In what is the first comprehensive United States retrospective devoted to his works, The Menil Collection is displaying about 100 paintings and works on paper in “William N. Copley: The World According to CPLY.” He's such a fascinating character that we're looking forward to the panel discussion this Friday night (with curators Toby Kamps and Germano Celant and exhibition catalog contributors Alison Gingeras and Jonathan Griffin). The Menil’s Surrealism galleries also are featuring paintings formerly owned by Copley, including works by Man Ray, Max Ernst, André Breton and René Magritte.

There’s a panel discussion at 7 p.m. Friday, February 19, and a conversation at 7 p.m. Monday, February 29. Regular viewing hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays to Sundays. Through July 24. 1533 Sul Ross. For information, call 713-525-9400 or visit menil.org. Free.

Daniel Koren is not your typical comedian. His surreal videos have racked up millions of views on YouTube. His work on the PBS Kids web series Fizzy’s Lunch Lab earned him an Emmy nomination. He describes his touring production, The Most Important Thing, as “me — live — on a keyboard [with] a bunch of little mes on a computer projector, [as] my virtual band. But [the heads and I] have a very complicated relationship.” We think watching Daniel interact with Daniel sounds pretty hilarious for Friday night entertainment.

The Israel-born comic considers his greatest influence to be legendary avant-garde prankster Andy Kaufman. “Andy Kaufman showed me that comedy was way more than just being funny,” says Koren. “It can be interesting, it can be colorful, it can be weird. Kaufman’s always been my ‘secret guide.’”
Koren, who recently developed a pilot for Comedy Central, hasn’t always considered himself a comedian. “Originally, I played in a band. And because, naturally, I’m a little funny, the show would become a little funny too. Then one day, a friend of mine said, “This should be a comedy show, not a music show.” And initially I was furious at him! I unfriended him; didn’t want to see him,” Koren says with a laugh. “But he was right.” The Most Important Thing has since played clubs and festivals in New York, Australia, London, the Netherlands and more.

8 p.m. February  19 and 20. Lott Entertainment at The MATCH, 3400 Main. For information, call 713-521-4533 or visit lottentertainmentpresents.com. $25. 

They had us at fire dancers. Or maybe it was the flaming sculptures, hoopers, light spinners and muscle dancers. We can't wait to behold all that glows this Saturday afternoon, plus illuminated art cars and bikes, when ArtX NonProfits presents GlowOrama: BackStage! “There’s two parts to the event,” says cofounder Evelyn Fasnacht. “There’s a separate freestanding public event followed by a supporter party. We’ve modeled it more to be a peek behind the scenes of GlowOrama, which is a celebration of fire and light, art technology and flow artists.” It’s all going down in EaDo, with nearby streets closed off to display the glowing rides, plus workshops on flow arts and a chance to meet the art car and bicycle artists. “Flow arts will be a new art form to many people that will come out,” says Fasnacht. “It’s exercise and dance rolled into one. It’s easy to do, and it’s enjoyable and rewarding regardless of skill level.”

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4:15-7:30 p.m. Saturday. Last Organic Outpost, Emile Street Research Farm, 711 North Emile. For information, call 713-850-1203 or visit artx.org. Free. 

The cold-blooded animals seen at Repticon Houston aren’t usually described as sweet and cuddly, but Bonnie Miller, the show’s promotions team manager, assures us they are. Well, at least some of them. “A bearded dragon or chameleon is happy to ride around on your shoulder,” Miller tells us. “It’s not quite like having a puppy, but some reptiles are very social, even playful. Just like a puppy, they want to bond so they learn what you like and try to please you. A python will politely curl herself around your arm; she wants to be warm, and wrapping herself around you is a great way to do that.” We think driving out to Pasadena for a python hug sounds like a great way to spend Sunday afternoon. Even Miller, who works on some 100 reptile shows across the country a year, admits a ball python might not be the right pet for everyone. “You’ll see lots of animals at the show, from frogs to lizards to snakes, even some spiders.”

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Pasadena Convention Center & Fairgrounds, 7902 Fairmont Parkway, Pasadena. For information, visit repticon.com/Houston. $5 to $15. 

Olivia Flores Alvarez, Vic Shuttee and Bill Simpson contributed to this post.

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