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

Selene Luna hosts Yabba Dabba Doobie on Friday.
Selene Luna hosts Yabba Dabba Doobie on Friday.
Photo by Steven Menendez

A punk-rock swap meet, an old-school comic book convention, a female-director-only film fest and an evening with Neil deGrasse Tyson — there's a lot to see and do in L.A. this week. 

fri 1/8

Diminutive burlesque star and comedian Selene Luna hosts Yabba Dabba Doobie, a night of laughs featuring headliner (and Luna's BFF) Margaret Cho. Fans of the two know they go way back: Luna appeared alongside Cho in her short-lived The Cho Show on VH1 and has opened for the comic on her current stand-up tour. In 2014, Cho staged a fundraiser for Luna, who was then plagued by hip problems. (Cho is developing an Amazon series about a Korean family that runs a marijuana dispensary, which may explain tonight's pot reference.) The lineup includes fellow stand-up comic and actor John Roberts, who voices Linda Belcher on Bob's Burgers, and parody singer and rapper Wendy Ho. The Improv, 8162 Melrose Ave., Hollywood; Fri., Jan. 8, 10 p.m.; $18. (323) 651-2583, hollywood.improv.com. —Siran Babayan

Are you intrepid when it comes to exploring issues of race? The folks behind Color Outside the Lines 2.0 want to reward you. The diverse cast of this rebooted game show/dance theater performance (with prizes) hopes to communicate that "race is more important, much more complicated and infinitely more ridiculous than you ever imagined." Three Clubs, 1123 Vine St., Hollywood; Fri., Jan. 8, 8 p.m. (also Sat., Jan. 9, 5:30 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 10, 0x000A5 p.m.); $15. (323) 462-6441, facebook.com/events/1011066982268453. —Gwynedd Stuart

Genre films have seen few actor/director collaborators more in sync than John Carpenter and Kurt Russell. The two have worked together five times, and one of those pairings is available in midnight-movie form courtesy of the Nuart: Big Trouble in Little China. San Francisco is a pretty dangerous place when sorcerers, demons and goblins are on the loose, but fret not: Russell can really throw a punch. Though it has attained cult status, the martial arts saga wasn't successful at the time of its release — critics shrugged, audiences didn't show up, and Carpenter bailed on Hollywood to do his own thing for the next several years. Nuart Theatre, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A.; Fri., Jan. 8, 11:59 p.m.; $11. (310) 473-8530, landmarktheatres.com. —Michael Nordine

If you're a devoted musicals fan who's somehow never been to Old Town Music Hall, you may want to make it your New Year's resolution to correct that grievous error with the Depression-era Footlight Parade. One of many song-and-dance classics co-directed and choreographed by Busby Berkeley, it stars James Cagney as a Broadway director who transitions into producing live musical numbers intended to warm up the riffraff attending movies. (Sounds better than 20 minutes of trailers.) In keeping with that premise, the theater will maintain its tradition of beginning the proceedings with a sing-along on the Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ. Old Town Music Hall, 140 Richmond St., El Segundo; Fri., Jan. 8, 8:15 p.m.; Sat., Jan 9, 2:30 & 8:15 p.m.; $10. (310) 322-2592, oldtownmusichall.org. —Michael Nordine

Let Robert Blake freak you out in Lost Highway on Saturday.
Let Robert Blake freak you out in Lost Highway on Saturday.

sat 1/9

L.A. may be a car-centric town, but Angelenos are famously health-conscious. Paul Haddad reads from his new walking guide, 10,000 Steps a Day in L.A.: 52 Walking Adventures, which encourages readers to get into shape and explore the city on foot. Whether it's Lake Hollywood, Forest Lawn Glendale or Hansen Dam, the book's 52 trails — 10,000 steps, or roughly 5 miles, each — are organized into five location sections, from Central L.A. and the Eastside to the San Fernando Valley and the South Bay. Haddad also includes maps, historical tidbits and a breakdown of terrain, pet-friendliness and parking information. Vroman's, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Sat., Jan. 9, 2 p.m.; free, book is $16.95. (626) 449-5320, vromansbookstore.com. —Siran Babayan

Buy, sell or slam at the Punk Rock Swap Meet, an all-ages indoor swap meet and concert extravaganza, featuring Pico Rivera's finest, Circle One; local '80s oi pioneers Killroy; '90s Posh Boy artists Glue Gun; Sorry State; and a few other bands. Expect a raffle, door prizes and the usual controlled chaos. There's also a book signing for punk writer and L.A. Beat columnist Michael Essington's Born Frustrated ($14.95, CreateSpace), the latest chapter in his gritty, polarizing trilogy of stories about people laboring against all odds at the margins of society. Knights of Columbus Council 3601, 21433 Strathern St., Canoga Park; Sat., Jan. 9, 4-10 p.m.; $7. (818) 347-9328, facebook.com/events/212742935728356. —David Cotner

Adult-only sleepovers at the La Brea Tar Pits aren't a thing (yet — the website says overnights for grown-ups are in the works), but if you have a sleeping bag and a kid who's 5 or older, then Camp Goo is for you. The prehistoric slumber party includes a flashlight tour of the tar pits, a scavenger hunt and even continental breakfast — heaven for a dinosaur-loving squirt who also enjoys the occasional Danish. (Note: Kids must be accompanied by an adult, with a max of four kids to one adult.) La Brea Tar Pits, 5801 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Sat., Jan. 9, 6:30 p.m.; $75 for nonmembers. (213) 763-3499, nhm.org/site/activities-programs/overnight-adventures. —Gwynedd Stuart

Anyone compiling a list of the best films made in the 1990s would have to reserve quite a bit of room for David Lynch and the Coen brothers, whose collective output throughout the decade was nearly unmatched. For a fitting double feature that showcases this, you can't do much better than Lost Highway and Fargo. There's more to life than a little money, but the criminals and lost souls inhabiting these fictional worlds often insist upon learning everything the hard way — just ask the Mystery Man. You've met before, haven't you? Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Sat., Jan. 9, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine

David Bowie's legacy isn't confined to his music. The American Cinematheque begins its Rockers on the Big Screen series at the Egyptian with The Man Who Fell to Earth and The Hunger, which star Ziggy Stardust himself as an alien and a vampire, respectively. The former was Bowie's first starring role, and many would argue that it's his best — like several others playing this week, it's a cult classic for a reason. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood.; Sat., Jan. 9, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine

sun 1/10

It's the 30th anniversary of Aliens this year, and the latest Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention is celebrating by hosting a panel with a plethora of the movie's stars. The Aliens Anniversary panel features Michael Biehn (Hicks), Lance Henriksen (Bishop), Jenette Goldstein (Vasquez), Mark Rolston (Drake), Ricco Ross (Frost) and Carrie Henn as the immortally rad Newt. Also in-person: Billy Dee Williams talking about everything from Lando Calrissian to rumors of his reappearance in Episode VIII of Star Wars; seminal comic book artists Bill Sienkiewicz and David Williams; vendors, costumes, collectibles and more geek-culture ephemera. The Reef, 1933 S. Broadway, downtown; Sun., Jan. 10, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; $12 & $14. (818) 954-8432, comicbookscifi.com. —David Cotner

In Amber Benson's latest series of novels, Echo Park Coven, a former Angeleno returns home under tragic circumstances and, in the process, learns of the secrets that fill her old neighborhood. This isn't hipster fantasy; it's the stories of multiple generations of women in the coven coming together in the shadow of Dodger Stadium. It's a story filled with details that L.A. residents will immediately understand, from dilapidated sidewalks to garages that double as home tiki bars. Actress-turned-author Benson, who played beloved witch Tara Maclay on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is no stranger to supernatural-driven fiction; she's also the author of the Calliope Reaper-Jones series. For her appearance at Burbank bookstore Dark Delicacies, she'll be signing The Witches of Echo Park and its follow-up, The Last Dream Keeper, which came out Jan. 5. Dark Delicacies, 3512 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank; Sun., Jan. 10; 2 p.m.; $15. (818) 556-6660, darkdel.com. —Liz Ohanesian

UCLA screens The Argyle Secrets and Gentleman Joe Palooka as part of its Sound and Fury: The Films of Cy Endfield retrospective. The writer-director was one of many filmmakers to be blacklisted during the shameful House Un-American Activities Committee era, and this series will have a special focus on the movies Endfield made in Britain during his exile from Hollywood. These two are among his last as part of the studio system before retreating across the pond; they'll be preceded by Inflation, a 17-minute short warning of the dangers of consumerism — and featuring a satanic businessman who helps assure Hitler of America's impending economic downfall. You can probably guess how that went over with Joseph McCarthy. UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Sun., Jan. 10, 7 p.m.; $10. (310) 206-8013, cinema.ucla.edu. —Michael Nordine

Contra Tiempo unveils Agua Furiosa on Thursday.
Contra Tiempo unveils Agua Furiosa on Thursday.
Photo by Tyrone Domingo

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mon 1/11

Everyone has to kiss a few frogs to find their prince. Having gone through an "entire koi pond," 30-something Nicole Burch wrote The 7 Guys You Date Before You Get Married, a comedy about the murky waters of dating. The Groundlings-trained comedian flashes back to several failed relationships, starting in high school. Burch narrates the show while other actresses play younger versions of her in scenes that take place in bedrooms, living rooms and restaurants. And she gives each of her suitors affectionate names, such as the Mooch, the Cheater and the Lost Puppy. Does one of them turn out to be Mr. Right — or are they all just toads? Groundlings Theater, 7307 Melrose Ave., Hollywood; Mon., Jan. 11, 8 p.m.; $10. (323) 934-4747, groundlings.com. —Siran Babayan

Neil deGrasse Tyson might be the ultimate overachiever. Besides, you know, being an astrophysicist, he's managed to become the world's coolest scientist, encouraging a new generation to look upward, and he does it all while rocking the hell out of various celestial neckties and waistcoats. The Cosmos host comes to the Pantages for An Evening With Neil deGrasse Tyson. Expect delightful conversation about just how tiny you are in the grand scheme of things. (Also Tue., Jan. 12, at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.) Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Mon., Jan. 11, 7:30 p.m.; $45-$225. (800) 982-2787, hollywoodpantages.com/neildegrassetyson. —Gwynedd Stuart

REDCAT hosts the U.S. premiere of Billy Woodberry's And When I Die I Won't Stay Dead, the filmmaker's long-awaited documentary about Bob Kaufman, a Beat poet inspired by jazz. Woodberry isn't a prolific filmmaker, but he is acclaimed. His best-known work, the 1984 drama Bless Their Little Hearts, was chosen for the National Film Registry. Also showing is Marseille après la guerre, a 10-minute montage composed of images uncovered in a longshoremen's union hall. REDCAT, 631 W. Second St., downtown; Mon., Jan. 11, 8:30 p.m.; $11. (213) 237-2800, redcat.org. —Michael Nordine

tue 1/12

New York writer Ryan Britt reads from his new collection of essays, Luke Skywalker Can't Read: and Other Geeky Truths. Britt relates sci-fi, fantasy and all things nerdy — Star Wars, Star Trek, Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Who, Back to the Future — to his experiences as a kid growing up in the '90s, and later as an adult, learning about sex from Barbarella; getting to interview Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan director Nicholas Meyer; and theorizing that everyone in the Star Wars universe is essentially illiterate. Britt also includes "A Totally Incomplete Glossary of Terms" from J.J. Abrams and Narnia to John Williams. Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; Tue., Jan. 12, 7 p.m.; free, book is $16. (310) 659-3110, booksoup.com. —Siran Babayan

It may seem hard to believe now, but prior to The Philadelphia Story Katharine Hepburn starred in a string of failures that led to her being deemed box office poison. Luckily for her — as well as director George Cukor and co-stars Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart — the romantic comedy was a runaway success that's still considered a classic. Play hooky with someone you love and see it at LACMA in the middle of the day. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., Jan. 12, 1 p.m.; $5. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org. —Michael Nordine

Soar screens at the 11th annual Focus on Female Directors on Wednesday.
Soar screens at the 11th annual Focus on Female Directors on Wednesday.
Courtesy American Cinematheque

wed 1/13

The 11th annual Focus on Female Directors is a night that honors the work of female directors. Tonight's program of shorts — which will be attended by some of by the filmmakers — includes Lulu Wang's Touch, about a cross-cultural fuckup; Catherine Hollander's The Great Perfection, a comedy about anxiety and meditation; the premiere of Anna Musso's Run Fast, in which the unimpeachable Robert Forster trains a Kenyan runner for the L.A. Marathon; and Lisze Bechtold's Moon Breath Beat, a 35mm, 5-minute, hand-drawn experimental film from 1980. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Wed., Jan. 13, 7:30 p.m.; $11, $7 for members. (323) 466-3456, american0x200Bcinemathequecalendar.com. —David Cotner

Filmmaker Steve Balderson is this generation's closest equivalent to trash auteur John Waters. Balderson has directed a series of campy movies, including the dark-carnival fantasy Firecracker and the riotous 2009 women-behind-bars melodrama Stuck! Tonight he premieres his latest, Hell Town, which is co-directed by Elizabeth Spear and is a "horror soap opera" about a killer stalking hapless students on a high school campus. Several of the film's stars, including Amanda Deibert and Chris Pudlo, appear at a Q&A at the screening at El Cid, followed by an afterparty at the Dragonfly, where Pleasant Gehman vamps it up as her alter ego, Princess Farhana, in a burlesque revue. El Cid, 4212 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake; Wed., Jan. 13, 7 p.m.; $15. Followed by burlesque at the Dragonfly, 6510 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; Wed., Jan. 13, 10 p.m.; $15. (323) 668-0318, elcidla.com/event/1027361-hell-town-los-angeles-premiere-los-angeles. —Falling James

thu 1/14

Another raunchy blonde armed with a lot of sex jokes is about to become a TV star. New York stand-up comic Nikki Glaser has appeared on Inside Amy Schumer and in Trainwreck. You also may have seen her on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, Conan, Last Comic Standing, @midnight and MTV's Nikki & Sara Live, as well as Jordan Brady's excellent 2014 documentary, I Am Road Comic. On Feb. 9, Comedy Central debuts Not Safe With Nikki Glaser, a comedy series about sex and relationships that mixes sketches, chat segments and viewer participation via social media. In anticipation of her show, Glaser will spend three nights at Nerdmelt testing out new material to see what sticks. Don't show up if you're easily offended. Nerdist Showroom at Meltdown Comics, 7522 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Thu., Jan. 14, 7 p.m. (also Jan. 19 & 21, 7 p.m.); free. (323) 851-7223, nerdmeltla.com. —Siran Babayan

Referencing Shakespeare's The Tempest, the Afro-Cuban deity of wind and storms and headlines about increasingly extreme weather, the urban Latin dance troupe Contra Tiempo unveils Agua Furiosa. The full-evening dance work employs the creative forces of choreographer Ana Maria Alvarez, sound designer D. Sabela Grimes, lighting designer Masha Tsimring, director Michael Garcés and vocalist Pyeng Threadgill (performing live) to present the forces of nature as a metaphor for the tumultuous realities of race in America. Developed over a two-year process that included workshops, storytelling and improvisation in UCLA's Royce fountain, the final product opens tonight for two weekends of performances. UCLA Glorya Kaufman Theater, 120 Westwood Plaza, Westwood; Thu.-Sat., Jan. 14-16 & 21-23, 8 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 17 & 24, 4 p.m.; $29. (310) 825-2101, cap.ucla.edu/calendar/details/agua_furiosa. —Ann Haskins

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