Bruce Smirnoff: "I've turned lemons into lemonade like my other always told me to do," says Connecticut-born Smirnoff, who's inched his way up the standup-comedy ladder by transforming industry-standard tough breaks--like the time he was axed from Archie Bunker's Place for unintentionally upstaging star Carroll O'Connor--into fodder for his comic gristmill, a one-man gripe fest titled "Other Than My Health I Have Nothing . . . and Today I Don't Feel So Good." Sound career advice notwithstanding, Ma Smirnoff also takes her lumps; one of Bruce's better bons mots: "My mother was so crazy, I wanted to become Superman--not to have his strength, but to have a mother on a planet 20 million miles away." Smirnoff's scheduled at 8 p.m. Thursday, August 21; 8 and 10 p.m. Friday, August 22; 8 and 10 p.m. Saturday, August 23; and 8 p.m. Sunday, August 24, at the Tempe Improv Comedy Theater, Rural and University (at Cornerstone mall). Tickets are $10 and $12; call 921-9877.
"Crossing the Frontier" and "Canyonland Visions": The former exhibit, sponsored by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, is subtitled "Photographs of the Developing West, 1849 to the Present," though "Photographs of the Despoiling West" might be more accurate. The show comprises 200-plus shots, vintage and contemporary, detailing the taming/raping of the land, from clear-cutting to nuclear dumping; artists represented include William Henry Jackson, Timothy O'Sullivan, A.J. Russell, Robert Adams and Frank Gohlke. "Canyonland Visions," a palate-cleansing companion installation organized by Fort Worth, Texas' Amon Carter Museum, features 117 paintings and photos of still-pristine places on the Colorado Plateau. The exhibitions continue through Sunday, September 28, in the Steele Gallery at Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central. Viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays (to 9 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays). Admission, to the Steele Gallery only, is $5, $4 for seniors, $2 for students and children age 6 and up, free for younger kids and members; entry is free to all from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursdays. For details call 257-1880 or 257-1222.
"Dazzling Diamonds": There are hot rocks galore in this traveling exhibit, including those of the "Cullinan Blue." The turn-of-the-century necklace features numerous chips off the old block--i.e., the Cullinan Diamond, a 3,106-carat South African beauty. The show also features the canary ring worn by Hillary Rodham Clinton at both of hubby Bill Clinton's inaugurals; a 136-carat Mardi Gras-style mask designed by Henry Dunay; a vintage tiara by Asprey, official jeweler of British blue bloods; and various pieces loaned by Martin Katz and Neil Lane, so-called jewelers to the Hollywood stars. "Dazzling Diamonds" stops at Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino, 15406 Maricopa Road in Maricopa, on Thursday, August 21; Friday, August 22; and Saturday, August 23. Viewing hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is a $2 donation to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. For details call 802-5000.
The Aquabats: The Devo of alt? The Man . . . or Astroman? of beats? The Gwar of grooves? Meet an Orange County ska band with a difference--a big difference. Garbed like a band of superheroes in need of Chapter 11 protection--cheapo, painfully mauve wet suits, shiny silver skullcaps, black foam-rubber goggles that look like they were carved out of packing material--the Caped Commander, Chain Saw, the Brain and the rest of the 'bats play nutty but catchy tunes about space oddities ("Ska Robot Army," "Martian Girl") and the pop-culture ephemera we puny Earthlings clutter space with (some of the names dropped on their debut, The Return of the Aquabats: just about everybody from the Star Wars trilogy, Scooby-Doo and Shaggy, Casper, Mr. Magoo and G.I. Joe). One of the band's tunes--"Aquabat March," something of a declaration of principles--sounds like a cross between a polka and the theme from Bonanza (representative refrain: "We're all just peaceful happy Aquabats/We would never take a life"). The Mad Caddies share the outdoor bill at Boston's, 910 North McClintock in Tempe. The all-ages show starts at 8 p.m. Friday, August 22. Tickets are $10, available at Dillard's. For details call 921-7343 or 503-5555.
The Imaginary Invalid: French playwright/actor Moliere (real name: Jean Baptiste Poquelin) portrayed the title hypochondriac, Argan, in the 1673 debut of his own satire of the then-barbaric medical profession--actually (and ironically) dying early in the show's run. Peoria-based Theater Works, best known for its middle-of-the-road musicals and easily digestible comedies, takes a stab at Moliere's meatier work. Opening performances are at 8 p.m. Friday, August 22; 8 p.m. Saturday, August 23; and 2:30 and 7 p.m. Sunday, August 24, at the theater, 9850 West Peoria Avenue. The production continues through Sunday, September 7. Tickets range from $10 to $12. Call 815-7930.