COMEDY — Hearty har-hars
Charleston Comedy Festival
Jan. 18-21
Various prices
Various locations
1-800-514-ETIX (3849)

The third annual Charleston Comedy Festival offers up a little something for everyone, with comedy groups flocking to the city from all over (like New York’s Elephant Larry, pictured above) and lotsa local representation, too. Whether you like your comedy sketchy (meaning prewritten) or off-the-cuff, you’re sure to find something that tickles that funny bone with acts ranging from a female duo presenting a send-up of a ’70s children’s television show (Free to Be Friends) to five guys who have a tendency to spontaneously break into dance-offs (Late Night Players) to local stand-up comedians duking it out verbally (Stand-Up-O-Rama). For more info, see the pullout program guide on page 29.


VISUAL ARTS — Fun for the curious and the collectors
Reorientation: The Artistsof Redux
On view through Feb. 3
Fri. Jan. 20
6 p.m.
Redux Contemporary Art Center
136 St. Philip St.

If you’ve ever been to Redux and not had a chance to wander around the mazelike corridors and inspect the artists’ studios tucked into the nooks and crannies throughout the building, make sure to mark your calendar for Redux’s first big event of 2006. For Reorientation, 14 Redux-based artists, including Seth Curcio, Townsend Davidson, Dorothy Netherland, Tony Prete, Kaminer Haislep, et al., will show their work in a group exhibition. During the Jan. 20 opening, all of the artist studios will be open for viewing and the cadre of artists will be present to discuss their avant-garde, experimental work in the very spaces where it was born.


THEATRE — Pick it
Opening night and reception: Fri. Jan. 20 at 8 p.m.
Sat. Jan. 21, 8 p.m.
Sun. Jan. 22, 3 p.m.
$18/adults, $12/seniors and students
Dock Street Theatre
135 Church St.
To reserve tickets:953-7712 or nouveaunoir3@aol.com

Playwright August Wilson, who passed away in October of last year, spent his writing career constructing a ten-play cycle that chronicles the changes in the fabric of American society and the African-American experience in the United States decade by decade. Set in Pittsburgh in the 1950s, Fences tells the story of former Negro baseball league star-turned-garbage man Troy Maxson, who struggles to find fairness in society while providing for his family and coping with his own mortality through baseball metaphors. The play was written in 1985 and garnered Wilson his first Pulitzer (he won again in 1986 for The Piano Lesson). Fences, featuring guest director Art Gilliard, is presented by Avery Research Center, the Parents of Diverse Students Advisory Council at College of Charleston, and the newly-formed Nouveau Noir Ensemble as a tribute to Wilson. With Wilson’s ambitions for a brighter future for African-American youth in mind, the production, which enjoyed a successful run in Summerville and Sumter in early 2005, is a benefit for financially-needy gifted and talented minority students at CofC.


THEATRE — Bring a healthy funny bone … and a hanky
The House of Blue Leaves
Opens Fri. Jan. 20
Showing Jan. 20, 21, 27, 28; Feb. 3, 4 at 8 p.m., Jan. 29 and Feb. 5 at 5 p.m.
$18/adults, $16.50/seniors and students
Village Playhouse
730 Coleman Blvd.

Village Playhouse stalwart Keely Enright, known for her adroit handling of tragicomic plays, directs George Younts, Beth Curley, and Susie Hallatt in the Obie, New York Drama Critics Circle, and Tony Award-winning House of Blue Leaves, a pitch-black comedy by John Guare (Six Degrees of Separation) that centers on the Pope’s 1965 visit to New York City and the effect it has on a not-so-nuclear family. Artie Shaughnessy, a hymn writer, dreams of his son becoming Pope one day, while Artie’s downstairs neighbor/mistress Bunny urges him to get his songs blessed by the Pope, put his mentally-ill wife, Bananas (yes, you read that right), into an institution, and beat a fast path to California and subsequent fame and fortune. Although the College of Charleston produced Blue Leaves in 2002, this is the first time a local regional theatre company has produced the play.


SPORTS — Poppin’ some (gel)caps
Paintball Day
Sat. Jan. 21
9 a.m.-4 p.m.
$10 (registration fee), $5 (equipment rental fee), $12/bag of 500 paintballs
Park West Recreation Complex

There are few things more red-blooded American than grabbing a gun and shooting at strangers. While the legality (not to mention moral implications) of unloading a few live rounds is pretty dubious, from the minds of some great American inventors has sprung a perfectly safe (and sane) substitute: paintball. In the strangely addictive activity, compressed gas is used to fire gelatin-coated paintballs at … well, just about anyone. Mt. Pleasant Recreation Department and the staff of Ground Zero Paintball team up again to host Paintball Day on a compact, inflatable speedball field, where participants will register individually and be placed on seven-person teams on the morning of the day-long event, which is not a competitive tournament. Registration is currently open, and the Dec. 3 Paintball Day sold out three days in advance, so use those itchy trigger fingers to dial up Mark Friedrich at the Rec. Dept. to reserve a space on the field.


CONCERT MUSIC — Find the happiness you seek
American Songbook
Sat. Jan. 21
8 p.m.
$15-35, $5/students
Gaillard Auditorium
77 Calhoun St.

The latest installment in the Charleston Symphony Orchestra’s 2005-06 Pops series features the Broadway and Hollywood hits of legendary lyricists Irving Berlin (“God Bless America,” “Cheek to Cheek”) and Cole Porter (“Begin the Beguine,” “I Get a Kick Out of You”) as performed by the CSO and Broadway baritone Graham Fandrei. Berlin and Porter were sort of the people’s songwriters, penning jingles for radio and television in addition to Broadway, where Berlin had his biggest hit with his score for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Annie Get Your Gun and celebrated socialite Porter had a run of smash shows, including Kiss Me Kate and Anything Goes. The CSO will perform some of the composers’ best-loved songs, including “Puttin’ On the Ritz,” “Mack the Knife,” “Night and Day,” and “Annie Get Your Gun,” to name but a few.


VISUAL ARTS EVENT — But would Castro approve?
Art after Dark: Meet Mein Havana
Wed. Jan. 25
5-8 p.m.
Gibbes Museum of Art
135 Meeting St.

Another year, another chance for the Gibbes to draw in the demographic they so eagerly crave: the young people. With this year’s first Art after Dark party, they’ve got a golden opportunity to transplant guests to the mysterious and beautiful isle of Cuba in celebration of the new exhibition of vintage photographic prints, Ernest Hemingway and Walker Evans, Three Weeks in Cuba, 1933. During the casual, laid-back event, guests can stroll through the exhibit and mingle in the Gibbes’ spacious Rotunda gallery to the sounds of guitarist Chris Woodrum while noshing on Cuban petit fours and knocking back a few, perhaps forging a strong creative bond like the one Hemingway and Evans struck up in Havana, which led to Evans’ giving these 46 prints to Hemingway for safekeeping during the time of great political unrest.