If you're looking at that title and thinking to yourself (or perhaps to someone else, if you've got ESP), "Now, just what in the Sam Hill are those Red Octopi up to this go around?" well pardner, I'll tell you what: They're lampooning protesters and political dissidents, shut-ins, organic food snobs, moshing, "Downton Abbey" and the Good Lord only knows what else.
How about some of these sketch titles: "It's the '90s — It's Not All About Flannel," "Def Jill's Comedy Showcase," "Hillcrest Now Sells Coyote Meat" — and those were just the ones we could print! Just kidding, but seriously, as is usually the case with Red Octopus productions, you should leave your kiddos at home, as this shiz is for grownups only now.
Take note: The first 10 people who show up each night at 7:30 p.m. who are so inclined can enter for half price, so long as they agree to protest the show (signs will be provided).
THE MAIN THING'S 'ARKANSANITY'
8 p.m. The Joint. $20.
The in-house funny folks over at The Joint — a trio known as The Main Thing — are back with another original two-act comedy poking a little good-natured fun at The Natural State through the cracked lens that is The Fertle Family of the charming, fictional hamlet known as Dumpster, Ark.
The Fertles starred in the recent Main Thing productions "Last Night at Orabella's" and the follow-up "Weiner Day at the Rollercade." Their latest creation, "Arkansanity," is a collection of sketches and songs, at least one of which will feature the Fertles.
I've got to cop to the fact that I haven't yet made it over to see The Main Thing yet, but everyone I've spoken with has told me that it's truly, side-splittingly hilarious while also being appropriate for all ages and levels of uptightness. So you can bring your kids or your parents or your Republican Missionary Baptist mother-in-law or your wacky vegan liberal great aunt and they'll all get some chuckles.
'SPANK! THE FIFTY SHADES PARODY'
8 p.m. Walton Arts Center, Fayetteville. $20-$45.
If ever there were a cultural phenomenon that was ripe for mercilessly sadistic mockery, it is the so-called erotic novel "Fifty Shades of Grey." I mean seriously, y'all. I know that the reception to the book was largely all like, "ooh, BDSM, how controversial," and that a good number of critics took issue with its depiction of dom-sub relationships or whatever.
But this thing started off as "Twilight" fan fiction. Now, that would be a pretty clever put-down right there, only it's actually true. Here's another pretty good one, from Salman Rushdie: "I've never read anything so badly written that got published. It made 'Twilight' look like 'War and Peace.' "
So the only reasonable response to the novel — aside from the bummer of realizing just how banal so many people's lives are — is laughter. Thus, "Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody," which is apparently a pretty good bet for a fun girls' night out.
For some reason, Bill Maher — comedian, filmmaker, TV producer, political commentator and host of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" — has decided to try to bring his acerbic wit and withering put-downs to all of us slack-jawed, illiterate hillbillies here in Arkansas.
Aw, heck. Knowing us, we probably won't really "get" his jokes and so forth. Oh sure, we'll probably eventually figure out when it is we're supposed to laugh. A few nervous, ignorant titters will pepper the gaping, post-punchline chasms your more edumacated crowds would fill with confident and sophisticated chuckles. Oh man, let's don't embarrass ourselves too much in front of Bill, y'all. Seriously, we need to to get this right. What can we do to prove that we're deserving of his urbane sensibilities and shiny, bespoke vestments?
Hey, here's a great idea: How about we get ol' U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor down there for some kind of on-stage banter! They're probably good buddies after Mark was interviewed for Bill's movie about churches or whatever it was. That went so well. And don't worry, if Mark says anything too stupid, we can just edit it later on to make him look smarter. If Mark's not available, maybe we just get U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton. He seems like he's a real good sport and a sensible guy, and Bill likes him too. It'll be a hoot!
You know, maybe this won't be so bad after all.
Tickets are available at 10 a.m. Monday in a "pre-sale" (whatever that is) and for the "General Public" at 10 a.m. on Friday, June 28. They're gonna run you $60-$86.
The book, by Brian Raftery, is largely an oral history with observations and remembrances from such UCB alums as Ed Helms, Rob Corddry, Aubrey Plaza and many others. It's sure to be a goldmine for comedy nerds. And check it, ol' Besser's wearing a Razorbacks T shirt on the book's cover. He's a bigtime Hogs fan.
THE MAIN THING: 'WIENER DAY AT THE ROLLERCADE'
8 p.m. The Joint. $20.
Anybody who digs giggles, chortles, chuckles, titters, yukkety-yuk-yuks, and/or laughs will probably want to go ahead and get on down to The Joint, where the in-house comedy experts, collectively known as The Main Thing, will this very weekend unveil their latest two-act comedic play.
The crew is once more inviting the audience along for a trip to the bucolic little burg of Dumpster, Ark., where the Fertle Family is gearing up for the town's biggest event of the year, Wiener Day. Who knows what manner of small-town foofaraw and hillbilly high jinks those wacky Dumpsterites (Dumpsterinians?) will get up to on Wiener Eve? Ol' Doc Moore is hosting and cain't nobody understand what he says, and Bridgette is in the running for Weiner Queen, and Country Wayne Conaway is mixed up in this Shinola, but don't ask me how.
And Lordy, what if the fine citizenry of Wiener, Ark. was to find out that the folks in Dumpster had up and stoled their town's name what for to call their festival? Could get dicey, so hang onto your hats folks. The show runs at 8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays through July 13.
Funnyman Jim Gaffigan comes to Robinson Center Music Hall on his White Bread Tour, 7 p.m. $48-$58.
If you require standup comedy with more of a misanthropic, scorched-earth hatred vibe, Doug Stanhope is at the UARK Bowl in Fayetteville, 8 p.m., $25.
THE MAIN THING: 'THE LAST NIGHT AT ORABELLA'S'
8 p.m. The Joint. $20.
The latest laugh-filled offering from the hardest working comedy troupe in Argenta premieres Friday, but unless you already procured tickets, you'll have to wait until Saturday.
The Main Thing (Vicki and Steve Farrell and Brett Ihler in all roles) once again takes viewers on a trip to lil' ol' Dumpster, Ark., where the local honky-tonk is closing up shop. The last night promises to be a doozy, and the house band, Country Wayne Conaway and His Swingin' Sidekicks, provide the tunes. ("Country Wayne" huh? Could that be a sly reference to Wayne County, later Jayne County, of Wayne County & The Electric Chairs renown?)
Once again, this is suitable-for-all-ages comedy, so don't worry about having to sit through any uncomfortable moments with your in-laws or children or pastor or whatever. The show runs Friday and Saturday nights through April 27.
THE MAIN THING'S 'A FERTLE HOLIDAY'
8 p.m. The Joint. $20.
With Election Day 2012 now thankfully in the rearview mirror, the folks behind The Main Thing (The Joint's in-house comedy team) have retired their recent "Electile Dysfunction" play and are unveiling what is sure-to-be a witty homage to the Christmas season, "A Fertle Holiday."
The two-act original comedy will probably hit a little close to home for those of us here in the hinterlands who have family residing on one of the coasts. It concerns the Fertle Family Reunion in tiny, fictional Dumpster, Ark. The Fertles are hosting their well-to-do kinfolk from way out west in San Diego, Californey.
In a feat of multi-role madness that would make Eddie Murphy proud, the cast of The Main Thing — Vicki and Steve Farrell and Brett Ihler — will perform all 15 roles between the three of them. In addition to politics, the holidays are one of the mother lodes of comedy gold — fertile ground, if you will. If past shows are any indication, The Main Thing's take on the holiday season will be a family-friendly one that doesn't sacrifice on the funny.
"A Fertle Holiday" runs Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 29.
Red Octopus Theater has satisfied the need for outlandish comedy in Little Rock since 1991 and its recent “Hey Boo!” installment met the challenge, once again using thespian talent and sock puppetry to spoof everything from politics to personal hygiene. Classic horror movies and characters (Freddie Krueger, “The Exorcist,” " A Clockwork Orange," and various Muppets) popped up in the show. The three-day run from Thursday through Saturday brought a sold-out show to the Public Theatre on Center Street.
Sandy Baskin’s dramatic facial expressions, Brian Chambers’ infectious stage energy, Christina Wang’s bloodcurdling screams and Aaron Bell’s delightful ode to chocolate all made the show well worth the price of admission. The laughs were ongoing with David Weatherly, Leslie Dancer, Alli Clark, Michael Goodbar and several sock puppets, all leaving us looking forward to the Christmas show.
These performers never fail to test the boundaries of social conventions with their physical comedic delivery and creative use of song lyrics and poetry. No topic is off limits. The upcoming Christmas show promises to bring back actors who take a show off now and again only to reappear in some of the most popular recurring themes.
With Red Octopus performances, a couple of pre-show libations never hurt, something the cast will tell you at the onset. To paraphrase, “The more you drink, the funnier we are.” However, several non-drinking friends have attested to the hilarity of the shows, so drinking is not mandatory for a good time.
Admission is $10 (or $8 for military personnel and senior citizens) and $458 for children (according to the Red Octopus Facebook page). In other words, their shows are not for kids.
If you’re interested in checking out Red Octopus Theater, be advised to get their early as seating is limited and they don't take reservations.
We've got a quick ticket giveaway for all you fans of political comedy: The Capitol Steps are bringing their singing and satirizing act to Reynolds Performance Hall at the University of Central Arkansas, tonight at 7:30 p.m.
The first five people to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org will each win a pair of tickets to tonight's show. Just put CAPITOL STEPS in the subject line. I'll update when I've gotten emails from the five fastest keyboard-slingers.
The Whitest Kids U' Know will bring their no-holds-barred brand of grownup-oriented comedy, as well as all of their trademark zaniness, mischief, high jinks, chicanery, risque tomfoolery and assorted other what-have-you to Reynolds Performance Hall at the University of Central Arkansas Oct. 1, starting at 8 p.m.
If you're one of those uptight folks who gets all self-righteously offended and high-dudgeon-y when presented with jokes about bodily functions, sex, murder, drugs and the like, you'll wanna head right past this one and maybe just keep going on up U.S. Hwy. 65 to Branson, where you'll delight at the family-friendly antics of Yakov Smirnoff. "In Soviet Branson, fast-casual chain restaurants devour you! What a country! Etc.!"
Anyways, tickets to see these white kids make jokes will set you back $5 if you are a UCA student with valid ID or $10 if you are not. Get your tickets here or by calling 501-450-3265, unless you are age 13 or younger, in which case, take a hike.
7 p.m. Robinson Center Music Hall. $55-$66.
Best known for his trademark Gauloises, snifter of Courvoisier L'Esprit, blueblood upbringing and snappy catchphrase, "You can't fix stupid, but you can use a leveraged buyout to acquire it, strip it of its assets, fire all the workers, sell off the pieces and make a killing," famous private equity manager — wait a minute, I think I got the wrong press release.
Aha, I accidentally grabbed the bio for Douglas "Waldorf Salad" Huntington IV. I've got the right one now.
Ron "Tater Salad" White is best known for his ever-present stogie and bottomless glass of scotch, his role in the Blue Collar Comedy tour and his motto "You can't fix stupid."
If you live in Arkansas, the odds are better than OK that you have a copy of one of his DVDs wedged in between "Shrek 2" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" somewhere in the vicinity of your 84" flat screen. If you'd like to see White perform some of his jokes in person, here is your chance.
7 p.m. Robinson Center Music Hall. $60-$95.
UPDATE: This show has been cancelled.
Probably best known as the Season 3 winner of "American Idol," Fantasia Barrino — known simply as Fantasia — has had a moderately successful career.
She's proven that she was no one-hit wonder with numerous awards and nominations, including several Grammy nods and a win in 2010 for "Bittersweet." In a press statement, Fantasia said making music "is my therapy. Some people do yoga, some people go sit out by the water. My thing is putting my feelings into my music and sharing that with people who are going through some of the same things," she said. "Every song [I sing] is the truth, and that's the best thing for me."
This event is billed as "A Night of Love & Laughter." Opening up are the self-described "clean comedian" Travele Judon (a.k.a. Velle Vel) and R&B up-and-comer Raven Choice.
8:30 p.m. Robinson Center Music Hall. $40-$55.
This is the week for Arkansas boys made good coming back home. The day after legendary musician and Delight native Glen Campbell plays Robinson, Clarksville native and standup comic Ralphie May will take to that same storied stage.
May recently chatted with Times contributor Philip M. Provost.
Here's May discussing how he got started in comedy: "I got to enter a contest to open for Sam Kinison when I was 17. This was 1989, and he was the pinnacle of standup at the time. He pulled a prank on me: He told me to say the wrong thing, to scream and yell at the audience, to tell them they're all stupid. It got me booed, and then he came on stage and said, 'Can you believe that kid, talking to people like that? He'll be crying backstage, thinking his comedy career is over, he'll never be in comedy again.' But Sam loved me, he said it went perfectly."
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