Night on Broadway: totally free
Night on Broadway: totally free
Photo by Aurelie Davis

10 Cheap and Free Things to Do This Week

Lots of the shows at Riot L.A. are only 10 bucks, which is awesome. If that's not your bag and you have an extra dollar (or no dollars), there's plenty to do in L.A. this week.

KCRW's Riot L.A. aims to make downtown ground zero for alternative comedy. Back for its fourth year, the festival spreads stand-up, podcasts, storytelling, roasts — even magic and live animation — across three days and eight venues, including the Downtown Independent, the Regent, the Smell and the Theater at Ace Hotel. The lineup features Patton Oswalt, David Cross, Ron Funches, Gilbert Gottfried, Janeane Garofalo, Maria Bamford, Natasha Leggero, Bridget Everett, Paul F. Tompkins, Anthony Jeselnik, Aisling Bea, Jerrod Carmichael, Dana Gould, Eddie Pepitone, T.J. Miller, Thomas Middleditch, Kumail Nanjiani, Baron Vaughn, the Grawlix and the dog-friendly show 2 Girls 1 Pup. Highlights include KCRW's UnFictional Live, a Comics to Watch stage and a talk with the Katydids, co-creators of TV Land series Teachers. Various locations, downtown; Fri., Jan. 29, 7:30-11:30 p.m.; Sat., Jan. 30, 1 p.m.-mid.; Sun., Jan. 31, 3-10 p.m.; $10-$39.50. riotla.com. —Siran Babayan

Penelope Spheeris probably will always be best known for directing Wayne's World, but her body of work extends far beyond the SNL skit–turned-movie — though much of it is equally musical. UCLA's weekend tribute to the writer-director commences with Dudes on 35mm. The road-trip comedy tells of two city punks trekking westward in a Volkswagen Bug; their mellow is harshed considerably by the murder of their friend, thus launching the eponymous dudes on a quest for revenge. Spheeris will appear in person, as will screenwriter Randall Jahnson and star Jon Cryer. UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Fri., Jan. 29, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (310) 206-8013, cinema.ucla.edu. — Michael Nordine

Acts of murder as seen (and experienced) through the lens of a camera have provided the premise of many a disturbing classic, from Rear Window to Peeping Tom. Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up is another example, and one of the most accomplished. An enormous countercultural success that helped destroy the outdated Production Code, the Italian auteur's English-language debut concerns a British fashion photographer (David Hemmings) who accidentally bears witness to a murder. Antonioni received Oscar nods for his direction and screenplay. Nuart Theatre, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A.; Fri., Jan. 29, 11:59 p.m.; $11. (310) 473-8530, landmarktheatres.com/los-angeles/nuart-theatre— Michael Nordine

Eight years ago, city councilman José Huizar introduced Bringing Back Broadway, his 10-year plan to revitalize the historic downtown theater district. He can declare mission accomplished, at least for an evening, as Night on Broadway descends on the corridor for a second year after its inaugural celebration attracted three times more guests than were projected. Broadway will be closed to traffic from Third to Seventh streets for outdoor activities, and seven of the street's historic theaters open their doors for a variety of performances by local arts and culture organizations, including Reggie Watts at the Tower Theater; a program of short films at the Los Angeles Theater; and performances by Ozomatli and Aloe Blacc on the main festival stage. Broadway between Third Street and Olympic Boulevard, downtown; Sat., Jan. 30, 5-11 p.m.; free. nightonbroadway.la. —Gwynedd Stuart

The American Cinematheque's 70mm series continues with Ben-Hur, though it isn't actually screening in that most glorious of formats. William Wyler's biblical epic, shot in Ultra Panavision and starring Charlton Heston, won a record-setting 11 Oscars (a feat since matched by Titanic and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King) and made beaucoup bucks. It's a sweeping, sometimes overstated saga, and very much the kind of old-school classic everyone should experience at least once. Bonus fact: Ben-Hur premiered at the Egyptian in 1959, making this a homecoming. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood.; Sat., Jan. 30, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine

In a widely misconstrued article published last summer, when debate over the Confederate flag reached its tipping point, the New York Post's Lou Lumenick suggested that we start treating Gone With the Wind as a cultural artifact instead of a commercial property — the province of museums rather than movie theaters, and something to be contemplated rather than celebrated. Still the highest-grossing film of all time when adjusted for inflation, the David O. Selznick–produced, Victor Fleming–directed antebellum epic from 1939 will always have a place in history — even if future generations don't look back on it as fondly. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Sat., Jan. 30, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com—Michael Nordine

A convocation of conservationists, Greening the Gas Tank brings together tireless Consumer Watchdog president Jamie Court, perennially upbeat environmentalist Ed Begley Jr. and veteran automotive journalist Paul Eisenstein to turn us all on to new ways to get even more nonpolluting vehicles out on the roads. Although the hurdles range from the economic to the political to the technological, they'll explain solutions that are more graceful than the continued zero-sum reliance on crude oil. It's all moderated by KPFK voice of reason Ian Masters, no slouch himself when it comes to fighting against entrenched absurdity. Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Tue., Feb. 2, 7:30 p.m.; free. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu/programs-events/2016/02/greening-the-gas-tank. —David Cotner

If you've yet to tire of LACMA's weekly Hitchcock screening — and really, how could you? — trek to the Bing Theater once more for Rebecca. The master of suspense's first Hollywood production stars Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine as an ultra-wealthy widower and his second wife, respectively. Though never seen, the title character (his first wife) casts a pall over the entire gothic tale, which has the distinction of winning Best Picture (then called Outstanding Production) at the Academy Awards without receiving a single nomination in the writing, directing or acting categories. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., Feb. 2, 1 p.m.; $5. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org. —Michael Nordine

L.A. comedian Melinda Hill likes to talk about her lousy love life. Based on her stand-up, Hill's 2013 online series Romantic Encounters poked fun at her string of cringe-worthy dates with unsuitable suitors — think three nipples — and featured fellow comedians Dana Gould, T.J. Miller (Silicon Valley), Carlos Alazraqui (Reno 911) and the late Taylor Negron. Since then, Hill has begun hosting UCB's monthly storytelling show Best of Romantic Encounters. (She also co-created, with Maria Bamford, the long-running What's Up, Tiger Lily?) Apparently Hill is still looking for her soulmate, so she's performing a staged reading of a new webisode with help from Alazraqui, Drew Droege, Kent Osborne and others. It's OK to laugh at her pain. Comedy Central Stage at the Hudson Theatres, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; Wed., Feb. 3, 8 p.m.; free. (323) 856-4249, facebook.com/Comedy-Central-Stage-114055165292212/. —Siran Babayan

Cats aren't known for loving water (unless it's dripping very slowly from a bathtub faucet), but it turns out our feline friends can really hold their own at sea. Author and self-made expert in cat history Paul Koudounaris presents Ship Cats: Adventure, Courage, Betrayal! a lecture and slideshow featuring stories of some of history's most intrepid cat sailors, including an L.A. cat who won four battle stars. Learn something while looking at photos of cats in sailor hats — which, let's face it, is probably what you'd be doing anyway. The Last Bookstore, 453 S. Spring St., downtown; Thu., Feb. 4, 7:30 p.m.; free. (213) 488-0599, lastbookstorela.com. —Gwynedd Stuart


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