By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
SUNDAY, JUNE 14
Would You Like Fries With That?
“I like rice. Rice is great when you’re hungry and you want two thousand of something.” That’s Mitch Hedberg, and that’s the kind of joke that secured his status as a master of comedy simultaneously insightful and completely absurd. Hedberg’s gone now, taken too soon by cruel gods who obviously didn’t get the joke, but Cinefamily celebrates his memory with Mitch Hedberg Tribute Night, an evening of video clips of rare live performances and TV appearances, his unreleased MTV pilot, The Mitch Hedberg Project, and remembrances by friends and fellow comedians. The night’s highlight: Los Enchiladas, the 1999 feature film Hedberg wrote and directed, about slackers at a Mexican restaurant abandoned by management and left to their own devices. Speaking of food: “Every McDonald’s commercial ends the same way: ‘Prices and participation may vary.’ I want to open a McDonald’s and not participate in anything. ‘Cheeseburgers? Nope! We got spaghetti ... and blankets.’” Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., L.A.; Sun., June 14, 8 p.m.; $14. (323) 655-2510. —D.T.
Whatever you choose to do today, beware of nasty Gay Pride–related traffic and street closures in West Hollywood. Culver Shitty — ha! I meant City! — is probably safe. Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation Los Angeles is a deliciously worthy destination. With more than 40 restaurants and mixologists offering sublime snacks, tastes and sips, you could easily be in a food coma before the sun goes down. Chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken lead the pack of foodists cooking up specialties, and you’ll be helping to end childhood hunger in the U.S. Media Park, Venice Blvd. & Culver Blvd., Culver City; Sun., June 14, 1-4 p.m.; $125, $115 in advance. (877) 26-TASTE or www.tasteofthenation.org. —L.M.
MONDAY, JUNE 15
Dido and Aeneas Crash L.A.
At the famed Indiana University School of Music, where I was a piano major many years ago, no opera could surpass Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas for rude jokes. First of all, as you might expect, all the voice majors referred to it as “Dildo and Anus.” As if that weren’t bad enough, the most famous aria happened to be “When I Am Laid in Earth,” which of course got shortened to “When I Am Laid.” Add the fact that the work was heavily influenced by the baroque opera Venus and Adonis, by composer John Blow ... who could make all this up?
The story of Dido, Queen of Carthage, and her doomed romance with shipwrecked Trojan refugee Aeneas has fascinated composers ever since it appeared in Virgil’s Aeneid. Prior to Purcell, Francesco Cavalli based his 1641 baroque opera La Didone around the ancient tale, and now the notoriously eccentric, outrageously talented Wooster Group brings its acclaimed version of La Didone to REDCAT. Combining 17th-century aesthetics with a big hit of future shock, the stunning production is inspired by both Cavalli’s opera and whacked-out Italian horror meister Mario Bava’s 1965 sci-fi cult film Planet of the Vampires, in which the spaceship Argos crashes on the planet Aura and its astronauts encounter hostile zombies. When La Didone premiered several months ago in New York, The New York Times went gaga over its “mind-blowing pyrotechnics, visual, aural and intellectual.” The production excels in both artistry and irony, as lutes share the stage with electric guitars, and the supremely talented, space-suited cast infuses surreal planetary landscapes with the graceful grandeur of the baroque. One thing’s for sure: If Dido gets laid, it won’t be on Earth. REDCAT, 631 W. Second St., L.A.; Tues.-Sat., 8:30 p.m., Sun., 7 p.m., through June 21 (no perf June 18); $40-$55, student discounts available. (213) 237-2800 or www.redcat.org. —Mary Beth Crain
More Proof: Making Fun of People Can Lead to a Fulfilling Career
Like most things in L.A. that are really good, Celebrity Autobiography: In Their Own Words — readings from celebrity autobiographies — split for New York City. The show’s creator, Eugene Pack, brings it back for a special one-night-only performance benefiting Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital, with guest readers Craig Bierko, Matthew Perry, Carrie Fisher, Fred Willard and Ryan Reynolds. “We have added such authors as the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus and Eminem’s The Way I Am — which has turned into a Hamletesque soliloquy,” says Pack. “Of course, some of our favorites are epic ensemble pieces which combine the autobiographies of Burt Reynolds, Loni Anderson and Burt’s secretary Elaine Blake Hall. We juxtapose three memoirs to tell one story. And, of course, the combined memoirs of Eddie Fisher, Elizabeth Taylor and Debbie Reynolds — which we refer to as ‘Rashomon and on and on and on ...’
“The material is endless,” Pack continues, “but the classic readings remain, and everyone does it differently — and hilariously. For example, Star Jones’ autobiography has been read by Joy Behar, Bruce Vilanch and The Sopranos’ Steve Schirripa. Who knew such material could be interpreted in so many different ways?