There's nothing quite as exciting as seeing new things and meeting new people. And this week's events bring you a mix of the silly and the serious – as in, seriously worth attending! If you're into sketch comedy, you can check out a behind the scenes discussion of Portlandia, but if you're into comics take a look at Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis. And if you're simply relieved winter is over, you can welcome spring at the sixth annual Nowruz Celebration.
1. Laugh at the Expense of Hipsters
Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein have turned poking fun at hipsters into an Emmy-nominated art. For the past three years, the comedic duo's IFC show, Portlandia, has been gently (and hysterically) parodying the Pacific Northwest's biggest hippie bastion – Seattle is so early-'90s – and its yuppies, vegans, ecoterrorists, guerrilla animal-rights activists, lesbian bookstore owners and dogs, who seem to rule that town. The bands there are so wimpy that they use feathers as instruments. Even Portland's interim mayor, played by season-three guest star Roseanne Barr, thinks the city needs to smell more like pee. Hosted by Film Independent at LACMA, Armisen (taking a break from his other job as bandleader for Late Night With Seth Meyers), Brownstein and Portlandia director Jonathan Krisel sit down to discuss and screen an “inside look behind the scenes” of the sketch-comedy series' fourth season, which will include guest stars such as Olivia Wilde, Kirsten Dunst, Steve Buscemi, Jeff Goldblum and Maya Rudolph. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Bing Theater, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Thursday, March 27, 7:30 p.m.; standby only, $10, $7 member, seniors and students. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org. – Siran Babayan
2. Experience “The New Baroque”
West Hollywood's Gallery 825 invited nearby gallerist and colleague Martha Otero to jury its florid spring group show this year – and found no media left behind. The resulting bounty of painting, sculpture, photography and their many cousins, “The New Baroque,” explores the ornamental style's content, narrative and legacy, with expressions of modern-day, mixed-media maximalism that signal an enduring love for embellishment, even in today's hyperfast world. At the same time, the gallery presents three small but salient solo installations by members Keiko Inoh, Robert Nelson and Osceola Refetoff. Inoh's unique 3-D light projection shadow-puppet cities, Nelson's advanced classical draftsmanship applied to subversive subjects, and Refetoff's complex constructed images of memory and decay of the wild Wild West (or at least our idea of it) together form a poetically and psychically aligned counterpart to the optical cornucopia tumbling through the main gallery. Los Angeles Art Association/Gallery 825, 825 N. La Cienega Blvd., W. Hlywd.; Saturday, March 22, 6-9 p.m.; free; continues through April 18. (310) 652-8272, laaa.org. – Shana Nys Dambrot
3. Watch Some Avant-Garde Theater
Timur and the Dime Museum are getting to be regulars on the REDCAT stage: Their star turns, cameos and original presentations embody the edgy, witty, musical-theater experimentation that the venue champions. Fitting, then, that the world premiere of Collapse happens at REDCAT. Featuring the operatic, post-punk, cabaret, torch-song tenor and hypnotic theatrics of frontman Timur Bekbosunov, the Dime Museum backs him with an aural array of samples/accordion/keys, guitar, bass and drums. As always, they're more than just a band; they are onstage characters in the passion play. Collapse is a haunting and hyperbolic song cycle, which functions as a requiem for the environment, a lament for humanity's tragic hubris and, of course, a love story. With video projections live-mixed by artist Jesse Gilbert, inimitable apocalypse-couture costumes by the Bohemian Society, and a different live musical act in the lounge before each show, expect something epic and ornately austere, more experience than entertainment, more entertaining than the end of the world, tinged with romance and desire. REDCAT, 631 W. Second St., dwntwn.; Thursday-Saturday, March 27-29, 8:30 p.m.; $10-25. (213) 237-2800, redcat.org. – S.N.D.
4. Meet a Funny Cartoonist
From deepest, darkest San Marino (by way of Albany in the Bay Area) comes cartoonist Stephan Pastis, discussing and signing his new anthology, Pearls Falls Fast: A Pearls Before Swine Treasury. An ark of doodles and scribbles used as a delivery device for the trenchant and the ludicrous, Pearls Before Swine is one of the few comics worth reading in the funny pages these days. A former attorney, Pastis has over the past two decades evolved a cast of characters that includes the arrogant Rat, the simple Pig, the knowing Goat, the frazzled Zebra and a host of others in this menagerie of metaphors, which makes the funny pages a little more bearable since Bill Watterson, Ernie Bushmiller and Charles M. Schulz have gone. Irreverent but not irrelevant, Pastis' latest comic collection brings to mind those days when people would stand in line to see exhibitions of Far Side art and unite in their shared scorn of the dreaded Cathy. Vroman's Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Monday, March 24, 7 p.m.; free, book is $18.99 (buy a copy at Vroman's and get three others signed as well). (626) 449-5320, vromans?bookstore.com. – David Cotner
5. Celebrate Spring at Nowruz
Yes, Los Angeles is beautiful year-round, but spring still deserves a welcome bash. LACMA and Farhang Foundation have collaborated for the sixth annual Nowruz Celebration, welcoming spring with the proper pomp. Beginning at 11:30 a.m., the LACMA grounds will be transformed into an exotic jubilee of music, food and nonstop activities, including calligraphy, storytelling and a parade of traditional costumes, all centered around a stunning ceremonial display of Haft Sîn, the classic Persian table setting for this New Year's feast. For gourmets, Hoss Zaré, chef-owner of San Francisco's classic Fly Trap, and L.A.'s own Rui Wang of Patina have joined culinary forces to create Persian-inspired dishes. Highlighting the event? A 2 p.m. performance at the Bing Theater by Ziba Shirazi, who debuts her latest, Spring Love, a moving ensemble performance interweaving song and dance, accompanied by an epic tale of love recited in English. Shirazi's performance is the only event requiring a ticket ($15). Following Shirazi, the young, magnetic, London-based band Ajam will perform an outdoor concert at 5 p.m., delivering a unique musical mosaic of classic Persian folk strongly influenced by hip-hop and London's own unique urban style. While Ajam may be the final act of the celebrations, it's just the beginning of the 13-day holiday of Nowruz, traditionally celebrated by people of all backgrounds and faiths ringing in a new year of fellowship and prosperity together. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Sunday, March 23, 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m.; free. Tickets for Ziba Shirazi's performance at lacma.org or farhang.org/events/2014nowruz. – Orly Minazad
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