San Fernando Valley homeboy George Lopez does Oaktown his way: The most famous Latino comedian since Desi Arnaz will pack the Paramount, then make us laugh till we cry. If you only know the hombre from his top-rated TV sitcom George Lopez, you may be surprised by the gonz of his stage show. He rages, cusses, and throws himself around the stage in a routine honed by almost three decades of working the clubs. Lopez' standup draws from the same store of childhood experiences as the TV show -- the battle for self-worth, muddling through dicey family relationships, struggling to love and care for others as an adult. But it has a switchblade edge: "My grandma used to hit me, man -- with the car." And although he complains about his TV show being pigeonholed as Latino, Lopez is ready to represent, with the same twisted humor: "White mothers are the only ones that ever get arrested for beating their kids. Amateurs!"
Nor is he afraid to confront the ugly truth in stereotypes. "In other families, they are happy and proud when one of their own has become successful," he says. "All I hear is, 'F%$# that dude,' or the real Chicano says, 'I could be on TV if I want to -- I just don't want to.'" You don't need to be Mexican-American or Latino to get Lopez, though. If you've ever been dissed or dismissed, or ever felt abandoned, it'll hit you.
Coming off a successful kidney transplant, the comedian is at a pitch of energy he hasn't felt in years. (Although he managed to head into the fourth year of producing and starring in his TV show, filmed a Showtime comedy special that just came out on DVD, and wrote his autobiography, all as his health failed, a level of productivity we all could envy.) Lopez says he often had to fake the intensity, but now it's back and hotter than a jalapeño.
Tickets are $75.50, $52.50, or $42.50 for reserved seating plus applicable service charges. Show times are 6 and 9:30 p.m. For tickets, call 510-444-TIXS; also available at the Paramount box office. 2025 Broadway (at 21st St.), Oakland. ParamountTheatre.com -- Susan Kuchinskas
A Giant visits Oakland
Whatever their other shortcomings, Giants fans are right to believe their team has an illustrious history. Take Christy "Big Six" Mathewson, the right-handed NY Giants pitcher (1900-1916) whose fadeaway curve helped him achieve 372 lifetime wins, including three shutout games in the 1905 World Series against the then Philadelphia A's. Actor Eddie Frierson remembers Matty, too, and this Sunday (2-4 p.m.) at the Oakland Museum of California, Frierson impersonates him as part of the "Baseball as America" exhibition. MuseumCA.org -- Kelly Vance
Cold as Ice
A wicked hobgoblin. A magic mirror. A snowflake that transforms into an evil enchantress. Talking tiger lilies and hyacinths. Two innocent children. Those are the elements Hans Christian Andersen wove together into The Snow Queen, a much-beloved, if slightly sinister, fairy tale -- thankfully, with a happy ending. Originally written in 1845, the timeless story is sure to melt the icicles around your heart faster than you can say "Snip, snap, snare! It's all right at last." This weekend and next, Splash Circus Theatre employs juggling, acrobats, clowns, and original music in its retelling of Andersen's classic at Berkeley's Julia Morgan Theater, 2640 College Ave. JuliaMorgan.org or 925-798-1300. -- Eric K. Arnold
The Smuin Ballet's idea of a "Cool Christmas" involves tap-dancing trees and Santa's babes in feather boas, as well as the usual Handel and Bach classical music. There's even a bit of Russian klezmer for the Chanukah-ly inclined. Also dances set to Willie Nelson and Elvis tunes, gospel chorus, and the Chieftains. Choreographer Michael Smuin calls this kitsch-filled smorgasbord The Christmas Ballet, and it hits Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek Friday and Saturday. 925-943-7469, SmuinBallet.org -- Kelly Vance
What the Fork - January 19, 10:29 AM
Culture Spy - January 18, 10:25 AM
What the Fork - January 17, 1:52 PM
Culture Spy - January 11, 9:55 AM
What the Fork - January 3, 2:06 PM