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Kick off your Memorial Day weekend with a bang: catch a rousing comedy show with Neil Hamburger or hit the beach for longstanding art & craft fair Fiesta Hermosa, which offers both a Beer & Wine Garden and a kiddie carnival. Mix the conventional with the erudite as you enjoy a BBQ and obscure films at Cinefamily on Monday. Then, after a weekend of fun, sober up with a free documentary screening of The Square (Al-Midan), and a conversation at the Orpheum with one of Japan's most important artists.
5. Hit the beach
Kick-start the summer with a trip to the beach. And while you're there, why not pay a visit to one of the largest arts & crafts fairs in Southern California? For 42 years, Fiesta Hermosa has been celebrated every Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend. This year, the festival is packing downtown Hermosa Beach with more than 300 painters, photographers and jewelers, plus many more artists and their handicrafts. Stop by the Charity Beer & Wine Garden, where "celebrities" such as the beach city's mayor could serve you a glass, or enjoy the live music playing throughout the fair - one of the two stages will feature tribute bands performing songs by The Eagles, Jimi Hendrix and Crosby Stills Nash & Young, while the other will blast musical genres from rock & roll to zydeco. And don't worry if you work up an appetite after that ride down the 30-foot slide at the Kiddie Carnival; the food court offers 18 food choices, from Greek and Thai to tri-tip sandwiches. We hear the roasted corn is to die for. 1 Pier Ave, Hermosa Beach; Sat.-Mon., May 24-26, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; beer garden open until 7 p.m.; free. (310) 376-0951, fiestahermosa.net.? - Kellyn Kawaguchi
4. Laugh it off
The bumbling, bow tie - wearing comedian with a greased comb-over, thick eyeglasses and a near-permanent scowl, Neil Hamburger rose to prominence as a regular guest on the Internet talk show Tom Green's House Tonight, and later as the opening act for Tenacious D's Pick of Destiny tour in 2007. He dubs himself America's Funnyman, "but he's really just this really horrible bad comic," comedy producer Samantha Varela says. Which is a fair description, considering Hamburger is the fictional persona of Los Angeles - based comedian Gregg Turkington. Hamburger tonight continues his six-year residency at Silver Lake music venue the Satellite, where he performs his absurd stand-up on the last Sunday of every month. Joining him are comedians Jake Weisman, Lynn Shawcroft, Rob Delaney and Megan Amram, all of whom are headliners in their own right; Delaney and Amram have amassed cultlike followings with their hilarious Twitter feeds. The show often runs until 2 a.m., and, as Varela says, "It's basically a rock show with comedians instead." The Satellite, 1717 Silver Lake Blvd., Silver Lake; Sun., May 25, 9 p.m.; $8. (323) 661-4380, thesatellitela.com. - Jennifer Swann
3. Watch a movie (or fifteen)
Even without having to finesse the varying preferences of friends, significant others and offspring, settling on what movie to watch can be a challenging task. Some people spend more time combing through their queue than actually watching movies, hemming and hawing over thousands of options before settling on something they've already seen. Leave it to Cinefamily to embrace that familiar level of indecision. The theater's Five Minutes Game has a simple premise: The theater will screen the first five minutes of 15 films, with the idea that every movie should be compelling for at least its first five minutes. After presenting those 15 obscure movies and dabbling in a little Memorial Day barbecue (BYOMeat!), the audience will finish watching the movie that garners the most votes. Democracy at its finest! Cinefamily, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Beverly Grove; Mon., May 26, 5 p.m.; $12, members free. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org. - Sean J. O'Connell
Turn the page to see things get serious, including a talk with Pico Iyer and Takashi Murakami.
2. Experience Tahrir Square
While the rest of the world watched heady images of the Egyptian revolution on television and online, Jehane Noujaim had to dodge bullets, tear gas and military tanks running over bodies in order to make her Oscar-nominated documentary, The Square (Al-Midan). The Harvard-educated Egyptian director spent three years capturing Tahrir Square (a "symbolic land," as one of her subjects calls it) as it turned into a war zone, with the millions of protesters (Muslims, Christians, revolutionaries, Islamists) at the heart of the battleground who fought for the overthrow of corrupt president Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and the eventual ouster of his successor, Mohamed Morsi, in 2013. The film features activists such as Khalid Abdalla, an Egyptian-British actor who appeared in The Kite Runner and United 93; Magdy Ashour, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was tortured under Mubarak's regime; and Ahmed Hassan, an idealistic secularist, who in the doc poignantly points out that Egypt (and the world, for that matter) doesn't need a leader but a conscience. After premiering at Sundance in 2013, the film was shown on Netflix and had a limited theatrical release in 2014, with added material thanks to the country's ongoing turmoil. Hammer Museum, Billy Wilder Theater, Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Wstwd.; Wed., May 28, 7:30 p.m.; free, tickets required. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu. ? - Siran Babayan
1. Get cultured
The Broad Un-Private Collection conversation series dives deep into Superflat as Takashi Murakami is interviewed by author, thinker and cultural philosopher Pico Iyer. Murakami is best known as the leading practitioner of the Superflat stylistic movement, as well as a painter, sculptor, newly minted filmmaker and Louis Vuitton design collaborator, with influences ranging from 19th-century Japanese painting to Buddhism, anime and postwar social politics. Iyer - perhaps best known in the United States as the author of The Open Road: The Global Journey of the 14th Dalai Lama - has lived in Tokyo for 27 years, and as such is in a remarkable position to elicit from Murakami insight as to the intersection of the personal and national, epic and intimate in his art. "I actually think he's one of the most vital and essential figures in Japan today," Iyer says, "and [he] is trying, with unusual energy, intelligence and vision, to wake the country up out of its long stupor and to face realities it too often looks away from." Since the tsunami and nuclear meltdown three years ago, Iyer believes Murakami's work is "much more compassionate, more sympathetic, even more hopeful." Iyer says, "It's as if he's extending a hand to his traumatized and lost nation, as well as punching through surfaces ... to secret messages about what happens if you settle for a cartoon vision of reality. People liken him often to Andy Warhol or perhaps Roy Lichtenstein, but to me he's much deeper, more thoughtful and searching; he's not just playing games. I can't remember looking forward to an onstage conversation so much." We feel the same way. Orpheum Theatre, 842 Broadway, dwntwn.; Thu., May 29, 8 p.m.; $12. (310) 399-4004, thebroad.org. - Shana Nys Dambrot