It's been "trial by fire," but so far Mad Props Variety Show, the latest addition to the Valley comedy scene, is a success, says organizer Ryan McKee. "There really wasn't a place for comedians to go and perform for free," explains McKee, who says some venues charge people to perform. "We just wanted a place where we could get upcoming local comedians to try out new stuff." To encourage a strong community following, McKee says it was important to keep admission free as well.
Putting on the event is a logical move for McKee, who launched the first issue of his own comedy magazine, Modest Proposal, back in January. "We call it counterculture comedy," he says. The Tempe-based quarterly includes coverage on comedians and comedy news as well as humor pieces.
Held every Sunday night, Mad Props starts with an open-mike session followed by several standup comedy acts and a live band. Ron Babcock, Mike Thompson, Jared Blake, Lindsay Snyder and McKee himself are frequent performers, and Chrystyna Golloher is the host. Musical acts have included The Heartgraves, The Learning Curve, Paul Wade, and Wonderful Wednesday; an acoustic set by Brodie Hubbard is scheduled for this week.
Mad Props takes place at Rio Salado Brewing Company (formerly the Mill Avenue Beer Company), 605 South Mill in Tempe. Open mike begins at 7:30 p.m., standup starts at 9 p.m. and music starts at 10 p.m. For details visit modestproposalmag.com. - Michele Laudig
Puppets have a slam good time
>Those Muppets only look naive. See how puppets really think at 8 p.m. Friday, August 8, and Saturday, August 9, at the adults-only Puppet Slam at Great Arizona Puppet Theater. Hear a Seussian account of how Satan created the cell phone, and meet a boy who falls into a cereal box and meets Riboflavin, Fiber and the meaning of life. Add a Broadway musical spoof, a fractured fairy tale and suave lounge singer Mr. Fabulous, and you've got an evening of smart, quirky fun. We can tell you how to get to 302 West Latham: From I-10, exit Seventh Avenue south, then make a left at Roosevelt, a left at Third Avenue and a left onto Latham. Tickets are $8 reserved and $10 at the door. For reservations, see www.azpuppets.org or call 602-262-2050. - Kim Toms
Lunch Time Theater steps up to the plate
Downtown's hottest meal ticket, the Herberger Theater Center's Lunch Time Theater series, resumes Tuesday, August 12, as D & D & Company presents Lou Gehrig Did Not Die of Cancer. Jason Miller's play focuses on a feuding couple whose passions -- his for Little League baseball, hers for the limelight -- drive them apart. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday performances continue through August 28. Doors open at 11:40 a.m. at the Performance Outreach Theater inside the Herberger, 222 East Monroe. Shows begin at 12:10 p.m. and run for 30 to 45 minutes; admission is $5. Call 602-254-7843 before 9 a.m. on show day to reserve a boxed lunch from Paisley Violin, $5, which guarantees a seat until 12:05 p.m. (a good idea, considering the popularity of the plays). See www.herbergertheater.org for more information. - Jill Koch
On the Move
Dance Company adds new style
Nebellen Dance Company might already be one of the edgiest dance groups in town, but that's not stopping it from continuing to push choreographic boundaries. Now the troupe adds martial arts to its visually exciting performances.
"Our usual style is club dancing brought to the stage," explains co-artistic director Ben Howe. That includes hip-hop, R&B, house, break-dancing and liquid styles. "We're combining martial arts as just another element," he says.
That dynamic new direction is the result of Nebellen's collaboration with Wu Shu expert Kenny Perez, a black belt in five martial arts styles. Howe and co-artistic director Ellen Rath met Perez last year before Nebellen traveled to China, and discovered that Perez, who was also heading to China, shared their common goals.
While the result of their collaboration is a big production planned for later this month, the group presents a preview at an open rehearsal on Sunday, August 10. Showtime is 2 p.m. at the Lincoln Center for the Phoenix Boys Choir, 1131 East Missouri. General-admission tickets are $8 at the door. Call 480-706-4470 or visit nebellen.com for details. - Michele Laudig