21 Best Things to Do in L.A. This Week

Comedian Jen Kirkman hosts the third annual Dysfunctional Holiday Show on Saturday night at Hollywood Improv.
Comedian Jen Kirkman hosts the third annual Dysfunctional Holiday Show on Saturday night at Hollywood Improv.
Photo by Robyn Von Swank

Could there possibly be a better way to celebrate the approaching holiday than to watch comedian Doug Benson tear apart Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas? It's doubtful. Also happening this week, a Tim Curry Art Show, Jen Kirkman's third Dysfunctional Holiday Show, a drone expo, and an art crawl in Venice.

fri 12/11

Drones aren't just for shy warmongers and pushy loudmouths who stick their noses into everyone's business anymore. Every commercial application of every airborne drone available on the market will be showcased at the second annual International Drone Expo L.A. and its associated business conference. Rub elbows with filmmakers and photographers, first responders, mineral-rights enthusiasts and military men as you discover the very latest. Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 S. Figueroa St., downtown; Fri.-Sat., Dec. 11-12, 10 a.m.; $25-$30 for the expo, $325 for the conference (hours vary). (310) 854-8112, intdroneexpo.com. —David Cotner

The Los Angeles Punk Museum gives the city a dose of underground history for the holidays at the second annual Xmas Art Show. The two-day event launches on Friday at Chinatown's KGB Gallery with performances by cover band Joy Revision, Silver Star, Siggy and first-wave L.A. punk Taquila Mockingbird. Famed pop surrealist Anthony Ausgang leads the list of visual artists participating in the event. Festivities continue Saturday night with performances from Gitane Demone Quartet, Trulio Disgracias and Bunny Fontaine. This is an all-ages event that runs from 6 p.m. to midnight both nights, so if you're looking for a punk outing for the whole family, here's your chance. KGB Gallery, 1640-1646 N. Spring St., Chinatown; Fri.-Sat., Dec. 11-12, 6 p.m.-mid.; $7, $5 with museum membership. (323) 892-1515, lapunkmuseum.com. —Liz Ohanesian

Author Brandon Easton wrote about the larger-than-life Andre the Giant in his new graphic novel, Andre the Giant: Closer to Heaven (IDW, $12.99), and today he discusses it with Andre's daughter, Robin Christensen Roussimoff, who wrote the foreword. For fans familiar with Andre Roussimoff only as a wrestler, Fezzik in the beloved The Princess Bride or inspiration for Shepard Fairey's "Obey" street art, the book, illustrated by Denis Medri, chronicles his life in and out of the ring: growing up on a farm in France (he was 6 feet tall by the time he was 12); his WWF stardom and famously feuding with Hulk Hogan; and working in Hollywood TV and films in the '70s and '80s. The artistic renderings also look back on Andre's notorious drinking and his gigantism, which led to his death from congestive heart failure in 1993. Barnes & Noble, 1201 Third St., Santa Monica; Fri., Dec. 11, 7 p.m.; free. (310) 260-9110, stores.barnesandnoble.com/event/9780061748018-0. —Siran Babayan

Eddie Furth and Ryan Pigg return to host their monthly Historical Roast comedy show, which puts in the hot seat historic and pop culture figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Walt Disney, Hitler, Einstein, Elvis and Michael Jackson. Comedians poke fun at the dirty little secrets of the roastee, who in turn gets to roast the roasters. Tonight's edition skewers Thomas Jefferson: our country's third president, principal author of the Declaration of Independence, slave owner and Sally Hemings' rumored baby daddy. The lineup includes Bennie Arthur, Sara Benincasa, Ahmed Bharoocha, Willie Hunter and Kim Congdon, with Keith Powell (30 Rock) as Jefferson, as well as a possible appearance by a fellow Founding Father. Nerdist Showroom at Meltdown Comics, 7522 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Fri., Dec. 11, 7 p.m.; $8 in advance, $10 at the door. (323) 851-7223, nerdmeltla.com. —Siran Babayan

The closing sequence of Michael Mann's The Last of the Mohicans is the essence of cinema writ large. Its swelling soundtrack and balletic cinematography, combined with Jodhi May's hauntingly expressive face, lead to a singularly absorbing moment that only a big screen can do justice; after the Aero screens it with Martin Scorsese's The Age of Innocence, you'll want to go home and instantly rewatch it on a loop. The feeling won't be quite the same, but you can try to recapture it anyway. Both lush literary adaptations are highlights of the early '90s and feature their respective directors and casts (which include Daniel Day-Lewis in both halves of the double bill, plus Winona Ryder and Michelle Pfeiffer in Innocence) at the top of their game. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Fri., Dec. 11, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine

Artists get inspired by Tim Curry — pictured here in Clue — at Sinister Sweet: The Tim Curry Art Show on Saturday night.
Artists get inspired by Tim Curry — pictured here in Clue — at Sinister Sweet: The Tim Curry Art Show on Saturday night.

sat 12/12

When you hear the name Tim Curry, the first film that comes to mind for a lot of people is The Rocky Horror Picture Show. For 40 years, audiences have flipped over his Frank N. Furter in a film that still packs theaters full of fans wearing lingerie and singing "Sweet Transvestite." But the star of stage and screen has made a career of playing eccentric, mischievous and villainous characters. He kept viewers guessing through multiple endings of Clue and sparked many a case of coulrophobia with his turn as Pennywise in It. For Sinister Sweet: The Tim Curry Art Show, fans and artists display pieces that capture Curry in all his devious glory. The Fun Station, 218 Wilhardt St., downtown; Sat., Dec. 12, 8 p.m.; $16-$20. facebook.com/events/1590198201230673. —Liz Ohanesian

December is the time when even the most hallowed theater echoes with the sticky-sweet sounds of holiday music, but the L.A. Phil does have a couple of serious classical concerts this month. Stellar violinist Hilary Hahn returns to town to wend her way through Belgian composer Henri Vieuxtemps' Violin Concerto No. 4 in D minor, Op. 31. The 25-minute work is a dramatic showcase structured with lots of twisting passageways and ethereal spaces, which are linked together by Hahn's eloquently aching solos. Exciting new conductor Mirga Gra0x017Einyt-Tyla bookends the concerto with Mieczyslaw Weinberg's evocative yet restrained ballet music The Golden Key, Op. 55: Suite No. 4; and Tchaikovsky's mournful Fourth Symphony. Disney Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown; Fri.-Sat., Dec. 11-12, 8 p.m.; $26.50-$203.50. (323) 850-2000, laphil.com. —Falling James

Christmas with family can be fraught with tension, but comedian and host Jen Kirkman wants to de-stress the most wonderful time of the year with her third annual Dysfunctional Holiday Show, which promises "zero people asking you when you're gonna get married and have kids." Kirkman is an expert on the topic — her funny and touching 2013 book, I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales From a Happy Life Without Kids, was a best-seller. Next year she'll release her second book, I Know What I'm Doing & Other Lies I Tell Myself (Dispatches From a Life Under Construction), and this year she starred in a Netflix stand-up special, I'm Gonna Die Alone (and I Feel Fine). A regular on Drunk History, Kirkman will be joined by fellow former Chelsea Lately panelists Sarah Colonna and Chris Franjola, as well as Joe DeRosa, who'll add much-needed dark-comic fun to all the forced merriment. Hollywood Improv, 8162 Melrose Ave., Hollywood; Sat., Dec. 12, 8 p.m.; $18. hollywood.improv.com. —Siran Babayan

If you can no longer bear the shame of having seen Steven Soderbergh's take on Ocean's Eleven but not the original, fret not: The Egyptian celebrates what would have been Frank Sinatra's 100th birthday with a screening of the Rat Pack heist movie, which also stars Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. Some might consider its plot even more daring than that of the 2001 remake, considering the eponymous thieves conspire to rob five casinos over the course of a single night rather than just one. Too, the movie as a whole is a time capsule for Las Vegas as it once was. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Sat., Dec. 12, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine

Christmas soon will be upon us, and with it a number of seasonally appropriate classics that will leave some viewers out in the cold. If watching It's a Wonderful Life on cable isn't your idea of a festive time, perhaps seeing Die Hard at the Million Dollar Theatre is. Arguably the most influential action flick of the last quarter-century or so, it's the kind of movie that convinces genre agnostics that they too like gunfights and one-liners when they're executed this well, which is rarely. DJ Gaslamp Killer spins before the screening, which is 21+. Yippee ki-yay, moviegoer. Million Dollar Theatre, 307 S. Broadway, downtown; Sat., Dec. 12, 9 p.m. (doors at 7:30); $18. (213) 617-3600, cinespia.org. —Michael Nordine

The Los Angeles Punk Museum gives us a dose of the underground at the Xmas Art Show on Friday and Saturday.
The Los Angeles Punk Museum gives us a dose of the underground at the Xmas Art Show on Friday and Saturday.
Lina Lecaro

sun 12/13

Set in 1912 L.A., Los Angeles Ballet's polished, professional production of The Nutcracker is coming to a theater near you. For its 10th season, LAB's seasonal favorite expands to six theaters, continuing artistic directors Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary's commitment to bringing great ballet to Greater L.A. This week LAB moves to the home of the Oscars, with Alyssa Bross and Julia Cinquemani partnered with Kenta Shimizu and Ulrik Birkkjaer in the leads. LAB continues to prove itself to be the top-drawer professional resident ballet that has eluded this city. Dolby Theatre, 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood.; Sat.-Sun., Dec. 12-13, 1 & 5 p.m., (323) 308-6300, dolbytheatre.com. —Ann Haskins

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As you may have heard, the hills are occasionally alive with The Sound of Music. This Sunday morning, UCLA is, too — for free, no less, as the classic musical screens as part of the Family Flicks series. Watch Julie Andrews and the rest of that brave family fight the Nazis with their gift of song and be grateful for their contribution to keeping The Man in the High Castle from becoming reality. UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Sun., Dec. 13, 11 a.m.; free. (310) 206-8013, cinema.ucla.edu. —Michael Nordine

Filmforum has been killing it with its Los Angeles premieres lately. The latest of these is Pedro Costa's Horse Money, which debuted at the Locarno Film Festival last year and is just now arriving in L.A. for the first (and perhaps only) time. The Portuguese auteur is among the most celebrated in world cinema, and his heady, demanding works are exactly the sort of movies that fall through the theatrical cracks if you don't live in New York — which is to say, sleep on this rare opportunity at your peril. Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Sun., Dec. 13, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (323) 466-3456, lafilmforum.org. —Michael Nordine

mon 12/14

As part of Live Talks Los Angeles, former children's show host Bill Nye (the Science Guy) discusses his new book, Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World (St. Martin's Press, $26.99). Nye is worried about the very real threat of climate change, and he pleads with today's generation, especially millennials, to start a movement to control it. Following 2014's Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation, Nye explains the basics of climate change, debunks myths and misunderstandings, and lays out how individual lifestyle changes, including reducing your carbon footprint, can have an impact on the big picture. The Crest Theater, 1262 Westwood Blvd., Westwood; Mon., Dec. 14, 6:30 p.m.; $20-$95. livetalksla.org. —Siran Babayan

Want to see Superman read excerpts from The Bell Jar? This and other avant-garde entertainments will be on display at REDCAT's Mike Kelley: Single Channel Videos, which pays tribute to the pop culture–obsessed filmmaker. Other featured works include 100 Reasons and Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #1 (Domestic Scene)REDCAT, 631 W. Second St., downtown; Mon., Dec. 14, 8:30 p.m.; $11. (213) 237-2800, redcat.org. —Michael Nordine

tue 12/15

In recent weeks Margaret Cho, Seth Meyers, Kathy Griffin, John Oliver and countless other comedians both famous and unknown have publicly supported and raised funds on behalf of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Combining advocacy with seasonal spirit, tonight Upright Citizens Brigade's Sunset location hosts a Planned Parenthood Holiday Spectacular featuring stand-up, sketch and improv. Organizer Jessica Jardine (improv teams the Dragons and the Get Go) — whose mother regularly volunteered as a clinic bodyguard — welcomes performances from Wild Horses, Search History, A Kiss From Daddy, Big Grande, White Women and more. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to the nonprofit health service. UCB Sunset, 5419 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Feliz; Tue., Dec. 15, 8:30 p.m.; $25. (323) 467-6600, sunset.ucbtheatre.com. —Julie Seabaugh

Amber Tamblyn is especially attuned to the many ways in which Hollywood devours the hopes and even lives of countless sensitive, talented women. The Santa Monica native might be best known as the star of TV series Joan of Arcadia, but she's also a startling, inventive writer whose latest poetry collection, Dark Sparkler (Harper Collins, $17.99), exhumes the damaged souls of such tragically silenced actresses as Thelma Todd, Marilyn Monroe, Sharon Tate and Dana Plato with a bold, unsentimental style, which segues seamlessly from soulful empathy to morbid humor and baleful outrage. As Tamblyn wades through these heroines' bittersweet lives, she artfully tries to "tag the train of every dress, leave my mark/on their scars." She sits down tonight for a chat with redoubtable L.A. novelist Janet Fitch (White Oleander). Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; Tue., Dec. 15, 7 p.m.; free, book is $17.99. (310) 659-3110, booksoup.com. —Falling James

Watch Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire do what they do best at LACMA, where Holiday Inn is this week's Tuesday Matinee. Bearing no official relation to the hotel chain of the same name (though it did inspire the name), the 1942 musical stars the crooners as two-thirds of a musical act, both of whom are in love with the third (Virginia Dale). More than its love-triangle plot, the film is best remembered for introducing "White Christmas" to the world. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., Dec. 15, 1 p.m.; $5. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org. —Michael Nordine

All sorts of small flying objects are on display at the International Drone Festival on Friday and Saturday.
All sorts of small flying objects are on display at the International Drone Festival on Friday and Saturday.
Courtesy the International Drone Festival L.A.

wed 12/16

You'd be forgiven — so to speak — were you not to have noticed that Kirk Cameron set out last year to save Christmas, in the process recording a pulse-pounding vérité epic of theological zeal unequaled in our lifetime. Luckily, Doug Benson's Movie Interruption screens Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas, the Darren Doane–directed document of Cameron's willingness to put his life on the line to — as the tagline says — "Put Christ back in Christmas." Benson's comedian friends will gather on the couches in the front row and comment on the action as it unspools before your lucky eyes. Cinefamily, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Mid-Wilshire; Wed., Dec. 16, 7:30 p.m.; $14. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org. —David Cotner

It all starts out so cute. Boy meets girl. They bond over kung-fu movies and Elvis. Clarence and Alabama's story could have become a quirky-sweet rom-com, except that True Romance was written by Quentin Tarantino, so shit gets crazy fast. The Tony Scott–directed film was released after Reservoir Dogs but before Pulp Fiction, so the mix of pop-culture references, bloodshed and other Tarantino-isms were less expected in 1993 than they are in 2015. Still, the crime-riddled misadventures of young lovers stands out now as a classic piece of '90s cinema and is a perfect pick for the relaunch of Jason Reitman's Film Independent Live Read (formerly at LACMA's Bing Theater) in its new home. (UPDATE: Patricia Arquette and Christian Slater will reprise their original roles for the reading.) The Theatre at Ace Hotel, 929 S. Broadway, downtown; Wed., Dec. 16, 8 p.m.; $50-$125. (213) 623-3233, filmindependent.org. —Liz Ohanesian

thu 12/17

Stop and assume an upright position as you experience the culture portion of the Venice Art Crawl. At dusk, you'll be bathed in the radiance of the LightFall Lighting Exhibit, for which the white walls of the former Venice City Hall are used as a canvas for painters of light to apply their talents in all the colors of the rainbow. Also, theater troupe Voices in the Well reads Dylan Thomas'Under Milk Wood, originally a radio drama in which a godlike narrator clues the audience in to the dreams of the residents of the Welsh fishing hamlet of Llareggub. Beyond Baroque, 681 Venice Blvd., Venice; Thu., Dec. 17, 6:30 p.m.; LightFall is free; $10 for the Under Milk Wood reading. (310) 822-3006, beyondbaroque.org. —David Cotner

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