This Weekend: Stand-Up, Carmen and Playoff Football
I’ll leave you to your own devices during the game itself, but I’ve got a three-part postgame celebration to recommend. Elsewhere this weekend, comedy and silver-screen opera. Make it a diverse couple of days.
I shouldn’t try to write this blog on Mondays.
Usually, it’s Tuesday afternoon when I start pouring over bar ads and event listings (and trying to remember where the hell I was last Friday) for the forthcoming weekend’s recommendations. But, owing to a somewhat dull Monday, I got an early jump on things this week. My mind, however, was still in weekend mode, and I found myself contemplating a rather stupid question.
What should I recommend for Saturday?
Hmm, I thought. A lot of theaters are dark. I haven’t stopped by any bars recently that I want to rave about (or, I’ve already raved about all of my new favorites on the print side … keep an eye out.) There aren’t any concerts I’d want to recommend. Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, I thought. What to recommend? Whatever will Pittsburgh do on Saturday?
Oh yeah. Steelers vs. Ravens. Playoffs. “World War III,” as one Raven put it. Loser goes home, winner bound for the AFC Championship.
That might just capture our fair city’s attention.
No more writing on Mondays.
FRIDAY: CROWD-PLEASING STAND-UP AT THE IMRPOV
I’m tempted to go the Johnny Carson route here. So I will. Channeling Carnac the Magnificent, what one word describes a natural disaster, a deceased early-90’s bad guy pro wrestler, and an excellent, under-appreciated comedian?
The high-energy urban comic has become a fixture on Comedy Central and late-night talk shows, and you’re likely to recognize him from roles in Clerks II or The Longshots, or TV’s Everybody Hates Chris (Chris Rock is a big Earthquake fan.) I saw him a few years back at the Improv, and found that—in addition to being really funny—he’s a natural at putting the crowd at ease and making everyone feel like they’re part of the party.
Word of advice on comedy—if there are two shows, pick the late one. The crowds will be a bit thinner (faster service for you) and the comics will be loose (and, likely, a few drinks in.) In this case, that’d be the 10 p.m. I know it’s a cold winter’s night, head out late anyway. (Earthquake, Friday, 8 and 10 p.m. Also Saturday 7 and 9 p.m., Sunday 9 p.m. Pittsburgh Improv, 166 E. Bridge St., Waterfront. $22. Info: 412/462-5233, improv.com)
SATURDAY: CELEBRATIONS IN AND AROUND HOMESTEAD AFTER THE STEELERS TROUNCE THE RAVENS
Speaking of Homestead, I’ve found a couple places ‘round there that I like to throw back a pint or two. And (here comes the shocker) they’re not in the Waterfront. I know, I know, the prefab shopping destination is fantastic—I always feel like I’m a character in a 90’s teen comedy there—but there’s more to the land across the bridge than shopping, Sandcastle, and a couple streets you avoid.
There is, for example, Duke’s Upper Deck Cafe. This bar and restaurant is even more fantastic in the summer months, when the titular upper deck is available for your outdoor dining and drinking needs, but it’s a fine sports bar besides. A small dining room is available if you want a little quiet, but you can get some of the excellent food anywhere in the bar—I’ve done a few stand-up open mics at Duke’s, and I can confirm that they make some tasty wings. Come here after the Steelers topple those goons from Baltimore to watch the Green Bay-Atlanta game and size up our potential Super Bowl competition.
Next, hop to the other side of the bridge, sneak around the corner to the tail end of Murray Ave and check out Dale’s Bar and Grill. Dale’s will never be confused with one of the best bars in town, but it’s a fine place to wind down after all of the big-game excitement—just a classic smokey Pittsburgh dive. This is one of those places where a $10 can probably net you four beers or three cocktails without any trouble, and where a judicious deployment of “Renegade” on the jukebox will get the whole place singing along.
And before you go home, one word: IHOP. (Duke’s Upper Deck Cafe, 122 West 8th Ave., Homestead. Info: 412/461-8124. Dale’s Bar and Grill, 4377 Murray Ave., Hazelwood. Info: 412/521-9889. International House of Pancakes, 4656 Browns Hill Road, Hazelwood. Info: 412/422-1761.)
SUNDAY: KICK IT UP THE CULTURAL LADDER WITH CARMEN AT THE OAKS THEATER
After a weekend of uproarious laughter, Raven-crushing, and cheep beer, I know this is a cultural shift, but balance is necessary in all things, readers. So up your high-culture Q with a screening of Carmen, as performed by the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona.
The Oaks is getting in the habit of screening live or nearly-live broadcasts of opera, theater, ballet and such from around the world. This month alone, they’ve had Hamlet from London, they’ve got the Bolshoi Ballet live from Moscow, and, of course, Carmen, the eternally popular and endlessly reinterpreted opera by the short-lived Georges Bizet.
This sexy production features a bold staging and an all-star operatic cast, but the main attraction in Carmen is always the songs themselves. If you’ve never been exposed to this classic (or opera at all,) this is your chance to do it from the comfort of the Oaks, popcorn in hand. (Carmen, Sunday, 2 p.m. Also Thursday 7 p.m. Oaks Theater, 310 Allegheny River Blvd., Oakmont. $20 ($16, senior and youth.) Info: 412-828-6311, theoakstheater.com)