Whether you got the gifts you wanted this holiday season, or gave the performance of a lifetime upon receiving hideous neckties or redundant gadgets from the As Seen On TV line, it's that awkward time of year sandwiched between holiday cheer and New Year's Eve bashes. Good news is that we've got some great comedy opportunities with sketch, standup and theater, plus a few nature-centric events at Memorial Park and the Houston Arboretum. And, if your New Year's Day plans include aspirin and a hair-of-the-dog Bloody Mary, consider some mindful meditation instead. Your body will thank you.
We might not have a host for the Oscars but The Joke Riot Comedy Show: Christmas Edition! does. We've seen funnyman Rich Williams on The Real, Blame the Comic and under the spotlight in Vegas, and now he's hosting a night of sketch and standup in this holiday-themed joke-athon. Get your belly laughs from featured comics George Brito, Mal Mallucci, Tristen Wells and Anna Sankaran, then stay for the after-party with '90s hits courtesy of DJ Geaux Ro in the bar area. If you've just about had enough of the in-laws or all that family time, treat yourself to a grown-up night of laughter over at The Secret Group. Doors open at 7 p.m.
8 p.m. December 28, The Secret Group, 2101 Polk, 832-898-1088, thesecretgrouphtx.com, $20 to $45.
Scream for s'mores when Memorial Park Conservancy hosts an afternoon of campfire treats, hot chocolate and outdoor games in Winter Chill Out. The camping gurus over at REI are pitching in to help with camp chairs, jet boils (for hot water) and everything that's needed to make campfire coffee or cocoa. So come out to one of the most beautiful nature spaces in Houston and taste the magic that happens when melted marshmallow meets chocolate bar inside a pair of crunchy Graham crackers.
1-3 p.m. December 28, Memorial Park Conservancy, Picnic Loop, Picnic Area #1, 7575 North Picnic Lane, 713-863-8403, extension 0, facebook.com/events/2833346630024270 or memorialparkconservancy.org/visit/cal/168.html, free.
Playwright Vicki Quade has a knack for looking back at a Catholic upbringing through the comic lens of a catechism lesson. She's mined those memories in the hit one-woman show, Late Nite Catechism, as well as other religious comedies that delved into sin, fundraising schemes and Hollywood's take on worship. She's coming to Houston with one of her new line of bingo shows: Christmas Bingo: It's a Ho-Ho-Holy Night!, a bit of holiday fun that the Chicago Tribune named, "One of the top 10 picks for the holiday season." Don't put on a dunce cap and stand in the corner; come enjoy some of Quade's irreverent comedy during the last weekend of its run in H-Town, courtesy of The Caduceus Theater Arts Company.
8 p.m. December 28-29, 2 p.m. December 30, Chelsea Market Theatre, 4617 Montrose, 832-656-8380, thecaduceustheater.com, $22 to $30.
Folks from the Wildlife Center of Texas are guest hosting this cool look at the wise and wonderful owls in our region. Sure, they've got an uncanny way of staring you down, and can rotate their necks like a scene out of The Exorcist, but these carnivorous raptors are also great for gobbling up rodents, scorpions, bugs and snakes. This weekend's Adult Owl Prowl is for ages 16 and older, and there will be wine and beer on hand for the 21-and-up crowd. Make sure you're wearing good walking shoes and weather-appropriate clothing because, after the presentation, hike guides will lead guests out into the dark woods to look for the nocturnal owls.
6-8 p.m. December 29, Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, 4501 Woodway, 713-681-8433, houstonarboretum.org, $30 to $45.
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Enough with all the noise, fake news and incessant distractions from those electronics that have become so pervasive in our day-to-day lives. Start the new year with some quiet meditation, courtesy of the Rothko Chapel. Twelve Moments: Renewal with New Year's Day Crystal Bowl Meditation, led by yoga teacher and Bayou Bliss Yoga founder Dana Shamas, is a super-popular annual tradition and pre-registration already has filled. If the weather looks nice, they'll have a live audio feed of the Chapel program streamed outside, so bring your own chair or mat and find your spot on the plaza. For those who did pre-register, they'll be treated to the sounds of crystal bowls resonating throughout the Chapel, beginning the year with a fresh intention through those cleansing vibrations.
Noon, January 1, Rothko Chapel, 1409 Sul Ros, 713-660-1403, rothkochapel.org, free.