Friday, August 8
What kind of performer would allow himself to be upstaged by his audience? One who's doing it completely on his own terms. That's the genius behind the Ricky Kalmon Hypnosis Show, headlining the Tempe Improv Thursday, August 7, through Sunday, August 10. Returning regularly to the Valley, Kalmon always manages to mesmerize when he gets audience volunteers to participate in unscripted onstage antics. Without fail, the result is a crowd roaring with laughter. Kalmon performs at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Sunday, and 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday. He also rocks the house with a special R-rated show at 10 p.m. Friday and 11:30 p.m. Saturday. For tickets, $12 to $15, contact the box office at 480-921-9877. The Improv is located at 930 East University in Tempe.
Saturday, August 9
For comedians sharp enough to tackle political humor, the U.S. government provides a wealth of raw joke material, tax-free. For comedian John Saunders, experience as a Marine and civilian military information specialist turned out to be the perfect launching point for a career in standup comedy. So far, politics are in his favor; he's been a finalist in the Jay Leno Comedy Challenge and HBO's Chicago Comedy Arts Festival, and a contributing writer for Politically Incorrect and Dennis Miller Live. Dina Kucera opens for Saunders on Friday, August 8, and Saturday, August 9, at The Comedy Spot Comedy Club, 7117 East Third Avenue in Scottsdale. Showtime is 8 p.m. both nights. Admission, $10, includes a two-item food or drink minimum. To find out more, visit www.thecomedyspot.net or call 480-945-4422.
Sunday, August 10
It seems like ages since the Valley saw daytime highs in the 80s. In fact, we're lucky to get those kind of temperatures in the middle of the night during the summer. But up in Prescott, that's exactly the kind of warm -- not scorching -- August weather you can expect. Head north this weekend for the 54th Annual Summer Arts and Crafts Festival, presented by the Mountain Artists Guild. At least 140 vendors are expected for the free event, offering paintings, jewelry, clothing, pottery, and wood and metal pieces. Stroll among the booths under the shady trees of the Courthouse Plaza, located right in the heart of downtown Prescott, then duck into one of Whiskey Row's saloons for a cold drink. For more information, call 1-928-445-2510.
Monday, August 11
Few cities can boast the number of perfect starry nights that Phoenix gets, which is why this place is ideal for folks hooked on celestial sights. Local "guides to the night sky," Tony and Carole La Conte are the Valley's most passionate promoters of stellar stuff, and they frequently present their Backyard Stargazing events to share their knowledge with the public. On Monday, August 11, at 7 p.m., the La Contes bring the program about what's on view from people's backyards to the Glendale Public Library Auditorium, 5959 West Brown in Glendale. Admission is free. And provided another monsoon doesn't stir up the skies, the lecture is followed by telescope and binocular viewing. Visitors are welcome to bring their own telescopes, too. Call 623-930-3573 for further details.
Tuesday, August 12
Omigod, we totally never thought we'd have to, like, choose between two awesome concerts on tubular Tuesday, August 12 -- major bummer, for sure. On the one hand, we have pop queens The Go-Go's, who ruled the early-'80s airwaves with upbeat, California New Wave hits like "Our Lips Are Sealed" and "We Got the Beat." Still spunky as ever, performing old faves along with newer stuff from their 2001 album God Bless the Go-Go's (including "Unforgiven," co-written by Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong), the gals perform at Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets, $40 to $50, can be purchased from Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.com or 480-784-4444. On the other hand, there's the inspirational Olivia Newton-John, who fueled our roller disco fantasies with "Xanadu," theme song to the movie starring the songstress herself. Newton-John later prompted mass sales of sweatbands and leg warmers when "Physical" was a No. 1 song for 10 weeks in 1981. She performs at 7 p.m. at the Dodge Theatre, 400 West Washington. Tickets, $33 to $45, can be purchased through Ticketmaster. Before the show, a silent auction takes place in the theater lobby; proceeds benefit the Phoenix affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
Wednesday, August 13
Renowned Phoenix poetry goddess Brandy Lintecum, veteran of the Phoenix Slam Team, takes her slam master skills to another level by teaming up with local television production company Off the Hook to present the Poetic Blues Show, held every Wednesday night at The Old Brickhouse Grill. Listen to some of the Valley's most charismatic poets recite original work to a sonic backdrop of blues music, and help determine which poet wins the grand prize of the evening. Starting at 9 p.m., the event is taped for an upcoming TV show. Admission is $5 at 1 East Jackson. To find out more, call 602-279-0109.