The Five Best Things to Do This Weekend in Houston: UFC and Super Bowl Central

With 13 fights on the card, fight fans are in for a long night of action.
With 13 fights on the card, fight fans are in for a long night of action.

Super Bowl LI weekend is finally upon us so Houston is jam-packing its weekend with A-list celebrities and fried comfort finger foods to keep you satisfied. On deck for your Friday through Saturday lineup is the stand-up genius Craig Robinson, who's known to whisper his puns, use a piano throughout his set and roast the audience. That's a lot of show for one man; to follow up his smiles and laughs, go hard in the ring with a UFC fight this Saturday. At last we've arrived at the big day, when the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots finally face off. Add the satisfaction of mouthwatering finger foods to your Super Bowl Sunday equation by checking out the Houston Press flipbook, letting it guide you to your game day wings of victory.

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"I seen't it," Robinson says in Pineapple Express; catch him this Friday and say it yourself about Robinson's live stand-up.
Whether you know him for his parade of charming roles in box office hits like Hot Tub Time Machine and Sausage Party, his turns as the prankster master criminal on Brooklyn Nine-Nine or his defining role as the deadpanning warehouse foreman Darryl from The Office, you know that Craig Robinson’s got the formula for funny down. But according to the man himself, you haven’t seen his best until you’ve seen his stand-up. “This is home base; this is what I do. I love meeting the people, touching the people, getting that immediate response,” says Robinson. As to who the real Craig is, Robinson says he probably hedges on the side of his This Is the End depiction. “You’ve got me on the keyboard, doing a bit of call-and-response, singing about taking yo panties off,” he says, laughing. “It’s a bunch of silliness; we don’t get too serious — but there’s some heart attached.” Robinson is definitely the character who has heart in his film, making lovable and delightfully silly. Catch his set this Friday before tickets sell out.

8 p.m. February 2, 8 and 10:30 p.m. February 3, 7 and 9:30 p.m. February 4. Houston Improv, 7620 Katy Freeway. For information, call 713-333-8800 or visit $25.

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The interactive play that encourages popcorn throwing and discussion with the actors themselves during their performance.
Photo by Chance Hunter
At Old West Melodrama’s dinner theater production The Great Oil Scam of Sulphur Flats, you’re not only encouraged to boo, hiss, yell, cheer and throw popcorn; director Jennifer Adams says they’ll stop the show if you don’t. Adams’s father, troupe founder Joe Cole, was inspired by old-timey radio shows, and this one — about a con man, Slick Rascal, and his sidekick, Gopher O’dor, trying to cheat two sisters out of oil money in Luling, Texas — is full of corny jokes, groaners and plenty of repetition so audiences can jump right in. “Some people, their whole goal is ‘can I mess you up,’” says Adams. “We love them.” She says if you’ve had a bad day, “Come throw popcorn at us. It will relieve all your stress.” Dinner and a pre-show begin at 7 p.m. The audience-involved performance is this Friday evening; don't miss out on the opportunity to play a part from the comfort of your seat at your table.

8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. February 3-18. Puffabelly’s Old Depot Restaurant, 100 Main, Spring. For information, call 713-364-9190 or visit $13 to $19.

The Korean Zombie, Chan Sung Jung, stands a lean 5'7'' and is ready to get his hands dirty in the octagon.
Concert promoters and club owners aren’t the only ones trying to capitalize on the crowds headed to Houston for Super Bowl LI. The UFC is making its return with UFC Fight Night: Bermudez vs. Korean Zombie. On one side of the Octagon is Dennis Bermudez, a.k.a. “The Menace,” with a professional record of 16-5 and a two-fight win streak. He’ll be facing off against Chan Sung Jung, nicknamed “The Korean Zombie” because that’s just how he fights; he can take your biggest shot, and unless you knock him out, he’s just going to keep moving forward. It’ll be interesting to see how Jung looks in the ring since this is his first fight since a TKO loss in 2013; he’s spent the past two years doing his mandatory military service in South Korea. With 13 fights on the card, including the matchup between undefeated Alexa Grasso and Felice “Lil Bulldog” Herrig, fight fans are in for a long night of action. Although Joe Rogan may not be there to lend his experienced commentary, you can check out the battle between the Korean Zombie and Bermudez this Saturday night.

6 p.m. February 4. Toyota Center, 1510 Polk. For information, call 866-446-8849 or visit $40 to $175.

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Pack your Tums as the beer and nachos are inevitable so goes the heartburn.
The colossal face-off between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots has the entire city vibrating with excitement. Houston upped its party game with tons of celebrations around town — some exclusive and private, some not. If you didn’t get the invitation to the Big Game Big Give party, hosted by Josh Brolin at the plush estate of Michael and Lisa Holthouse, or if you didn’t find yourself on the short list for some of the swankier hooplas around town, fret not. We’ve got you covered with tons of super events lined up for the big week. Check out our Super Bowl Guide in the January 26 print edition of the Houston Press (or online as a flipbook), or visit Game on. Although our Super Bowl Guide is not restricted to one date, it is heavily encouraged for your Saturday and Sunday bliss this weekend.

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Small Jokes About Monsters is a hit and wins over Houston Press critic Jessica Goldman.
Photo by Clinton Hopper

Original work in this city is hard to come by. Original work that was developed locally is even rarer. Original work that…well…works? We certainly keep our fingers crossed. Three adult brothers and their mother are the folks we meet in this show. John, the eldest (Jonathan Gonzalez), gay middle son Ryan (Joshua Kyle Hoppe), Derek, the youngest (Colin Brock), and Mom (Rachel Dickinson) have rented the beach house in order to attend the funeral of the boys’ father. A father whom none of the children were close to and a man whom Mom despises for leaving her years ago. Brock, Hoppe and Gonzalez all deliver rat-a-tat-tat-paced performances of brotherly resentment, teasing, provocation and at times closeness. But it’s Mom that we can’t take our eyes or ears off of, courtesy of Dickinson’s performance, which defies any pitfall of cliché. “She’s the Fox News of family gossip,” Ryan claims of her. The order that sets the discomfort part of the play into motion comes when she forces the boys to open their father’s will to see what he’s left them. There is money involved, enough of it to matter. And of course the introduction of money pits brother against brother and creates the tension needed for the climax. But the real success of the production must be credited to director Hopper, who allows his talented cast to populate the beach house naturally and without one moment of boring stagnation. The winning hand for the performance lies with the Landing Theatre for being a company committed to exploring and nurturing new work. Let this be the closer to your weekend and the start of your week this Sunday at the Landing Theatre Company.

Performances through February 18 at The Landing Theatre Company, 1119 Providence. For information, call 562-502-7469 or visit Pay what you can; suggested price is $25.

Sam Byrd, Natalie de la Garza, Cory Garcia, Jessica Goldman and Vic Shuttee contributed to this post.