I just found some good advice in the New York Times. It's contained in a little essay by Joyce Wadler, who's surprisingly droll considering that her literary output includes two memoirs of bouts with cancer. Wadler writes a column, addressed to boom generation readers, called I Was Misinformed, and her November 9 installment has to do with getting to a certain age and realizing you have things hidden in the back of your sock drawer that you don't want your survivors finding after you're gone. "The truly considerate person will dispose of potentially humiliating or harmful items the moment he gets really sick," she suggests, "like a married man I knew who gave his love letters from the other woman to a male friend before he went into the hospital. Then he got better and got the love letters back. Then he died, which was a big mistake on his part, though I hear it made for an interesting moment at the memorial when the widow spotted the other woman. Think of this as a cautionary tale. Horrible things can happen when you leave romantic mementos around the house." Continue reading >> $30-$60
It's that time of year when we all get really excited about looking at lots of very small lightbulbs. This evening, Lincoln Park Zoo flips the switch on its holiday display as Zoolights opens for the season. Besides strands of twinkling lights wrapped around things, Zoolights also features photos with Santa, live ice-carving demonstrations, festive 3-D displays, and ice skating.
The exhibit tells a fashion story in three parts through the lenses of the Johnson Publishing Company (publishers of Ebony), Eunice Johnson who was an executive there, and a slew of iconic looks from Christian Dior, Balizza, Pierre Cardin, and more.
You want funny? Go to the website that inspired this revue, where actual old Jews—no comedians, no actors—spend maybe a minute each relating their often jaw-droppingly perverse gags. Peter Gethers and Daniel Okrent's stage version is funny, too, filled as it is with classic old bits, most of which come down to Leibowitz, Moskowitz, Gottleib, Kaminsky, Cohen, Kaplan, and/or Saperstein getting fucked by the world if not by their wives. I laughed. I also admired the crack five-member cast. Yet something crucial is missing. Between sappy monologues about the role of humor in Jewish lives and Marc Bruni's strenuously charming direction, OJTJ never gets at the sublimated rage that gives Jewish wit its worldview and its bite. Bruni's biggest mistake is showing clips of Alan King performing a routine whose hilarious savagery demonstrates all too clearly what the rest of the show lacks. —Tony Adler $49-$59
Once upon a time, Chicago was a magic town. You could buy tricks and apparatus at Marshall Field's and get a full-blown magic show with your dinner at Schulien's. The waiters there invented what became known as the Chicago style of magic. It was up-close and personal, not too grand, but still astonishing, and best of all, it made the audience part of the show. David Parr and Joe Diamond re-create this golden age in The Magic Cabaret, using homely objects like books and light bulbs and (naturally) playing cards to bring their stories of old-time magic to life. The result is by turns funny, surprising, and spooky. But here's the most amazing part: it really is fun for the whole family, not just the kids.—Aimee Levitt $20http://magic-cabaret.com
An stand-up comedy/open mike hybrid, with veterans and amateurs performing.http://flockyourselfchicago.com
Baby Wants Candy--a tight troupe now famous for its improvised musicals--began in 1997 as one of the dozens of ImprovOlympic teams formed every year. Somehow they've avoided the usual dissolution of such groups. More impressive, they've never experienced the artistic conservatism that paralyzes improvisers eager to "do it right"--and reap the reward, presumably, of a career in NYC or LA. Instead the troupe has become the very model of smart, physical, quick-thinking, and just plain silly long-form improvisers; they still play well together and manage to entertain. Inspired by the improbable suggestion "So this is it" at the show I saw, nine actors (backed by the five-member Yes Band) improvised a complicated, hilarious, tongue-in-cheek tale of three partnerships on the rocks--two marriages and a professional relationship--and the narrator who helps bring the couples back together. --Jack Helbig $15