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