There's no excuse to be bored and broke in Los Angeles when the city continues to offer such a great selection of cheap film, theater and pop art. From the highbrow (an examination of Islam and extremism) to the lowbrow (competitive lady arm wrestling, anyone?), these diverse events won't break the bank.
5. Visual Funk Art Show
It's hard to believe that this is Jim Mahfood's first real solo exhibition. That's because it already feels as if Mahfood (aka Food One, aka DJ Food) is everywhere all the time. Between his comics/illustration empire -- which stretches from MTV's Liquid Television to an update on the Tank Girl titles to Ziggy Marley's alt-culture superhero Marijuana Man to seemingly every Comic-Con in North America -- his solo and collaborative painting practice with colleagues like Chor Boogie and Jason Shawn Alexander, the cheeky body-painting and photography sessions he calls the Pervert Train, the periodic funkadelic awesomeness that is the Beat Bee Sessions podcast and his amazing knack for producing gorgeous books and hand-embellished editions, it's no wonder there hasn't been time for a gallery show. But there is time now. The show coincides with the much-anticipated publication of Mahfood's 20-year survey book, the encyclopedic and divine Visual Funk. A chronicle of all his greatest hits and fan favorites, this lifestyle manual of an art book gets its own release party Saturday at downtown's the Last Bookstore, suitably late in the afternoon to allow you to nurse your well-earned hangover. But first check out the images, people-watching, music and good times on offer as the pop culture tribute-show emporium Hero Complex pays tribute to the complexities of our own hometown hip-hop hero. Hero Complex Gallery, 2020 S. Robertson Blvd.; Fri., Nov 15, 7-10 p.m.; continues Wed.-Sun., 11 a.m.-6 p.m., through Nov. 23; free. (323) 334-0035, herocomplexgallery.com. --Shana Nys Dambrot
4. Drew Droege's Sharp New Show
Comedian Drew Droege got an invitation to a classy gay wedding in Palm Springs last year with the comment: "Please refrain from wearing bright colors and bold patterns." That droll footnote gave its name to Bright Colors and Bold Patterns, his new show with the Solo Collective Theater. In the last decade, the comedian-writer-director has gained renown on the Internet for his biting impersonations of Chloë Sevigny -- type the actress's name into YouTube, and the first thing you'll see is Droege in a blond wig, muttering haughtily about birthdays and toast. Despite his appearances in shows like New Girl, Key & Peele and How I Met Your Mother, Droege is one of the best-kept secrets in the comedy world. In Bright Colors he plays a character closer to home than the too-cool Sevigny: a charming, disaffected gay man at his friends' wedding, utterly bewildered at why the couple would want to get married in the first place. Droege's solo show explores with a darkly funny edge his views on stereotypes, relationships and same-sex marriage. VS Theater, 5453 W. Pico Blvd., Mid-City; Sun., Nov. 17 & 24, Dec. 8 & 15, 7 p.m.; $15. thesolocollective.com. --Sarah Diamond
3. Ladies Who Arm Wrestle
With more than 25 leagues worldwide, the nonprofit Collective of Lady Arm Wrestlers is poised to take over the world, one "brawl" at a time. The L.A. chapter of CLAW flexes its muscles three to four times a year, with audience members betting (with fake money) on the wrestler they want to win in each of three rounds. At the Thanksgiving-themed Fall Brawl, contestants include Sister Patricia Pistolwhip, a psychotic nun with an entourage of half-naked men; Crystal "Double Stuff" Hills, a beauty queen from Kentucky; and Less Slim More Shady, the reigning champion, who returns to defend her title. "It's an amazing blend of theater and sport at the same time," says executive producer Amanda McRaven, who's always looking to recruit and empower amateur arm wrestlers. Improv comedians will be on hand to judge the competition -- and soften the blow of a strong arm -- and a DJ will spin dance music after the match, the proceeds from which benefit Dancescape L.A. Bootleg Theater, 2220 Beverly Blvd., Westlake; Mon., Nov. 18, 7 p.m.; $10 advance, $12 at the door. (213) 389-3856, bootlegtheater.org. --Jennifer Swann
See also: 30 Free Things to Do in L.A. Any Time
2. Andy Warhol Does "Transcendent Tedium"
It's a rare work of art that's best appreciated by not seeing it -- Gysin's Dreamachine comes to mind, as do any given episodes of Mark Valley's late, lamented TV series Human Target. In that rarefied tradition, tonight L.A. Filmforum screens Andy Warhol's legendary 1963 debut film, SLEEP, in all its five-hour, 16mm, all-night glory. SLEEP isn't just five hours of one static shot of ur-poet John Giorno snoozing -- it's actually Giorno's slumber as shot from different angles and during different times, evidence of which repeats and runs circles around an ordinary cinematic viewing experience, duration notwithstanding. Imagine a cross between Christian Marclay's 24-hour film The Clock and the night sequences of Paranormal Activity and you'll get an idea of what kind of transcendent tedium to expect. The screening ends at 6 a.m., and viewers/sleepers are urged to bring pillows and otherwise get comfortable because, in the immortal words of Lionel Richie, it's all night long. Human Resources, 410 Cottage Home St., Chinatown; Sat., Nov. 16, 11:59 p.m.; $10, $6 students (Filmforum members free). (213) 290-4752, humanresourcesla.com. --David Cotner
1. Unpacking the Real Islam
In his book The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam From the Extremists, Khaled M. Abou El Fadl compares the current divisions within Islam to the religious and ideological transformations that happened in Europe during the Reformation, when Protestants broke away from the Roman Catholic Church. Although there are two completely opposed worldviews within Islam, one of moderation and serenity and one of violent extremism, the majority of the non-Muslim world increasingly views Islam solely as a threat, leaving the voices of the moderate Muslims muted or at the very least diminished. With his work, Abou El Fadl is trying to speak above the shouts of minority extremists. On Tuesday at the Hammer, the distinguished UCLA School of Law professor will discuss Islamic extremism here and abroad, with two other theology scholars, for Hammer Forum: Islam's Growing Sectarian Divide. Imam Sayed Moustafa Al-Qazwini, founder-director of the Islamic Educational Center of Orange County, and Hamid Dabashi, professor of Iranian studies and comparative literature at Columbia University, and author of The Arab Spring: The End of Postcolonialism, will provide context for the growing schism within Islam and lend their voices to the unheard majority of moderate Muslims who thrive while using Islam as a guide for morality, ethics and tradition. Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Wstwd.; Tues., Nov. 19, 7:30 p.m.; free. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu. --Rena Kosnett
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