The Jig Is Up, Tracey Ullman!
FRIDAY, April 25
Paging all bookies, readheads, lit-gluttons, tome-philes. Whatever the folks who enjoy the printed word are calling themselves these days, they’re in for a hard-copy orgy this weekend. Things kick off with The Los Angeles Times Book Prizes Ceremony,where awards will be presented in 10 categories. Over the weekend, the colossal Festival of Books may be the only time in history we get to type Julie Andrews, Leonard Maltin, Richard Price, Robert Pinsky, Maria Shriver, Tommy Lasorda, Gay Talese, T.C. Boyle and Steve Lopez. Unless all of the above were killed in the same plane crash. Then we could just cut and paste from this here listing. Book Prizes: Royce Hall, UCLA; Fri., April 25, 8 p.m.; $18, $65 includes dinner with authors. (310) 825-2101 or www.latimesbookprizes.com. Festival of Books: UCLA campus; Sat.-Sun., April 26-27; free, but tickets needed for indoor panels and readings; www.latimes.com/festivalofbooks/.
SATURDAY, April 26
The idea that Los Angeles has a viable, lively downtown just won’t go away. Me — I consider our downtown a series of streets you drive up and down looking for the freeway on-ramp after dim sum. Esotouric, the history- and scandal-digging bus-adventure company, presents A Day of Eclectic Downtown L.A. Bus Tours.It’s two back-to-back tours. First is The Many Downtowns, part of the “Reyner Banham Loves L.A.” architecture series. You’ll learn how the area was purposefully depopulated in the ’50s and stops at the Grand Central Market, Title Guarantee Building (with the landmark Hugo Ballin murals), Angels Flight Railway and Pershing Square (with a tribute to novelist John Fante). The second tour is Main Street Vice, “a celebration of the ribald, racy, raunchy old promenade where the better people simply did not travel, but kicks were had by all who did.” Both tours depart from Philippe the Original, 1001 N. Alameda St., dwntwn.; “The Many Downtowns,” 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; “Main Street Vice,” 4-6 p.m.; $55 each, both for $70; www.esotouric.com.
SUNDAY, April 27
Smart Gals Speakeasy presents The Third Annual Dead Poets Slam! (The exclamation point is theirs; did it grab your attention?) This year, it’s East Versus West. “Can SoCal Bukowski tackle easterly Anne Sexton? Will e.e. give it up to Creely?” taunts the press release. Noel Alumit hosts performances by Shawn Michael Howard, Kathleen Coyne, Joan Spitler, Lori Yeghiayan, plus poets Imani Tolliver and Brendan Constantine. Guys, BYOB in a Bukowski-approved paper bag and you’ll probably go home with a Smart Gal. Mount Hollywood Underground, 4607 Prospect Ave., Los Feliz; Sun., April 27, 7-9 p.m.; $15. (323) 302-2257.
MONDAY, April 28
Before we get into the next listing, this seems like an appropriate time to point out that Tracey Ullman’s new HBO show, Tracey Ullman’s State of the Union, completely steals the entire premise (voice-over jumping from city to city) from the much funnier Little Britain. And she’s an ex-Brit! Does she think nobody would notice? Now, on to previously scheduled listings: It’s time for the BAFTA/L.A. British Comedy Festival & Awards. This week, leading up to the awards on May 1 (sorry, BAFTA members only) are free screenings — open to the public Monday through Wednesday — all of which are funnier than anything Ullman has ever done. Monday:Run Fatboy Run; Extras. Tuesday:Hot Fuzz, The IT Crowd. Wednesday:Gavin & Stacey; Little Britain (someone invite you-know-who). Writers Guild of America Theater, 135 S. Doheny Dr., Beverly Hills; Mon.-Wed., April 28-30, 7:30 p.m.; free; www.baftala.org.
TUESDAY, April 29
Times are tough and getting tougher, people. And yes, it’s come to this: It’s time we all rolled up our sleeves and learned Soap Making. Though the class is $80, think about how much you’ll save with your new skill. Irish Spring, Dove, Ivory — now you can name your soap whatever you want. Mine’s gonna be called Butt Face, because that’s how soft it leaves your skin. The Urban Craft Center, 3025 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica; Tues., April 29, 7-9 p.m.; $80. (310) 828-1348.
WEDNESDAY, April 30
Time magazine columnist Michael Kinsley understands the fact that everything sucks and is bad. He will discuss his new book, Please Don’t Remain Calm: Provocations and Commentaries, which I have not read, nor do I have any intention of reading, but some — if not all — of you should. Bring him some of that soap you made. Part of Town Hall’s Writer’s Bloc series. Q&A follows. James Bridges Theater, 1409 Melnitz Hall; Wed., April 30, 7:30 p.m.; $20. (213) 312-9460.
THURSDAY, May 1
Between soap-making and utter doom, it’s time to ask, as the great Robert Plant once did, “Does anybody remember laughter?” Producer Lawrin Goulston Salazar’s big Los Angeles Comedy Festival gets bigger and better every year. Today kicks off 18 days of standup, sketch and improv with acts from Austin, Boston, Chicago, Miami, Nashville, New York, San Francisco, Toronto and even Sherman Oaks. Performers include Sultans of Satire, Modi, Claude Stuart, Competitive Awesome, Iliza Shlesinger, the Queers of Comedy, Marla Schultz, Shame is Right!, Children of a Lesser God, Levi McDougall, Adam Richmond, The Comedy Jesus Show and Tina Kim. McCadden Place Theatre, 1157 N. McCadden Place, Hlywd.; May 1-18; Fri., 11 p.m.; Sat., 8, 9:30 & 11 p.m.; Sun., 5:30, 7 & 8:30 p.m.; $12, $50 five-show pass, $90 10-show pass. (323) 463-2942 or www.lacomedyfest.com.
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