COMEDY — Like Christmas, but much funnier (and less fattening)!
Charleston Comedy Festival
Jan. 17-20
Various times
$6-$12.50, VIP Pass: $100
Various venues

According to a recent study by Vanderbilt University researcher Maciej Buchowski, just 15 minutes of laughter burns 50 calories. By that rationale, one could technically purchase a $100 VIP pass to this week’s Charleston Comedy Festival, attend between 12-14 one-hour shows, and chortle off a whopping 2,800 calories! With choices ranging from both in-town (The Have Nots!) and out-of-town (Bassprov, Pimprov) improv acts to quick-witted sketch comedy (Late Night Players, pictured above) to a faux contemporary Christian rock band (God’s Pottery) to an audience-interactive game show (Don’t Spit the Water!), there are more than enough options to satisfy even the pickiest comedy customer. So, while you’re scarfing some McDonald’s at 2 a.m. after leaving one of the nightly Festival after-parties at Charleston Beer Works, you can point and laugh at that goofy redheaded clown and enjoy your super-sized Big Mac value meal completely guilt-free.


EVENT — Horses with a history
The “World Famous” Lipizzaner Stallions
Sun. Jan. 21
2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
$23.50, $21.50/seniors (60+) and children under 13
North Charleston Coliseum
5001 Coliseum Blvd.

Attention past, present, and future horse lovers: the incredibly talented Lipizzaner Stallions are coming to town for one day only this weekend, prancing, dancing, and leaping into hearts across the Lowcountry. The rare, white Lipizzan horses, originally from Austria, nearly went extinct during World War II when a large group of them were captured by the Germans — luckily, American General George S. Patton was an equestrian from way back and arranged for a nonhostile surrender of the horses scant weeks before the end of WWII. Today, the horses perform with riders in full dressage as they dance pas de deux, trois, and quatre interspersed with demonstrations of their classical training and a breathtaking “Airs Above the Ground” segment in which the strongest, most athletic horses of the bunch balance on their hind legs (Levade) and fly gracefully through the air with all four feet off the ground (Capriole, pictured above). To see the entire program, visit the Lipizzaner website; group discounts available by calling 529-5007.


VISUAL ARTS — Help to build the new New Orleans
Project BUILD!
Mon. Jan. 22
6-11 p.m.
$30, $25/adv.
Marie Laveau’s
9 Magnolia Road

It’s now been over a year since Hurricane Katrina, coupled with governmental gaffes and poor city planning, left thousands of New Orleans residents homeless. Local photographer Elise Poché recently visited the St. Bernard Parish, located in Chalmette, La., where, before the storm, the 65,000-resident community contained over 75 percent owner-occupied homes. When Poché saw firsthand how 95 percent of the residences and businesses are uninhabitable and the “reimbursements” given to the ex-residents amounted to a mere pittance, she returned to Charleston and organized Monday night’s photo exhibit/fund-raiser for the St. Bernard Project, a group helping to rebuild the St. Bernard families’ homes. The admission price includes food from New Orleans-inspired Marie Laveau’s, live music from the River City Jazz Dixieland Band, and one drink ticket, plus the chance to bid on artwork in a silent auction. Advance tickets are currently available for purchase at Marie Laveau’s and Rick Rhodes Photography (1852-F Wallace School Road, 766-7425).


DANCE — Giving “tap” a whole new meaning
Murder on the Marquee
Fri. Jan. 20
Sat. Jan. 21
7:30 p.m.
Charleston Ballet Theatre
477 King St.

Jazz and contemporary dance collide in Murder on the Marquee, a whodunit created by Ballet Master Stephen Gabriel that features the music of French composer Claude Bolling. The Charleston Ballet Theatre bring to life the story of a 1940s dance troupe in rehearsals for a production called “Desire,” where the backstage action is even hotter than the flaming egos of the characters. But when the star of the show is murdered, a detective is called in to figure out the mystery of the dead dancer. The stars of the CBT production include Marcie Campo Strang, Jessica Roan, Steven Hammell, and Jonathan Tabbert, plus a supporting cast of CBT regulars like David McAllister, Stephen Gabriel, Stephanie Bussell, and Chaz Glunk.


CONCERT MUSIC — Keys to the world
Marina Lomazov
Tues. Jan. 23
8 p.m.
$20, free for CofC students and anyone under 18
Sottile Theatre
44 George St.

The College of Charleston opens its 17th International Piano Series with a performance from Ukrainian pianist Marina Lomazov, a Spoleto veteran and Juilliard School graduate who currently teaches at the University of South Carolina when she’s not soloing with philharmonic orchestras across the world. A fixture on NPR’s Performance Today, on Tuesday night regular public radio listeners can witness the real thing as Lomazov plays works by Debussy, Shchedrin, and Chopin.


THEATRE — Disorder in the court!
Jan. 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27
10:30 p.m.
Footlight Players Theatre
20 Queen St.

Perhaps taking a cue from the still-surging popularity of PURE Theatre’s slate of envelope-pushing contemporary plays, the Footlight Players begin their inaugural “Salt & Battery” late-night theatre series with Romance, a sharp, fast-paced David Mamet farce that premiered off-Broadway in 2005. In the play, directed by Don Brandenburg, a courtroom goes haywire when the judge (Karl Bunch) has some strange reactions to his allergy meds, while the attorneys (Chris Sheets and Kyle Mims) have their own problems to deal with — a nagging boyfriend and an antagonistic client, respectively. During the show, which costs an unbeatable $10, the theatre will offer special drink prices and the opportunity for audience members to choose their own seats … you know what that means, right? Get there early! (But not too early, since the other current Footlight production, Inherit the Wind, plays earlier in the evening.)


VISUAL ARTS — Between the bars
On the Inside
Opening reception: Fri. Jan. 19, 5-7 p.m.
Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art
54 St. Philip St.

Over two million adults are currently incarcerated in the U.S., and a large majority of those are often ignored by the public at large. But with a population that outranks some entire countries, the prison system has its own microcosm of artists, scholars, and political advocates. This week, the Halsey Institute at the College of Charleston’s School of the Arts opens On the Inside, featuring a pair of exhibitions that offer a rare look into the prisoner’s world. On the first floor of the Halsey, One Big Self contains self-styled portraits of inmates from three Louisiana prisons who collaborated with photographer Deborah Luster and poet C.D. Wright for the project, while the second floor will house Cellblock Visions, curated by Phyllis Kornfeld, who has been teaching art in prisons for over 20 years. Kornfeld recently compiled numerous truly multimedia works, including soap-bar sculptures, drawings on handkerchiefs, and a purse made from cigarette boxes, for a book called Cellblock Visions. Kornfeld will host a free lecture at 4 p.m. on Fri., just before the reception, in the Simons Center Recital Hall, and Luster and Wright will give a free presentation on Fri. Feb. 16 at 6 p.m. in Alumni Hall (66 George St.). On the Inside will be at the Halsey until Fri. March 2.