"I used to think that if you did an hour on TV, you couldn't go and do that same hour live. But I've learned the opposite is true. That's precisely the hour audiences want you to do. There's this feeling that if you did it on TV, it must be the best hour you've got, so why would we want to see anything else?" So, by phone, says self-proclaimed "Platypus Man" and stand-up campaigner Richard Jeni, veteran of many HBO specials, Tonight Show appearances and movies such as The Mask and Burn Hollywood Burn. Jeni performs at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 10; 8 and 10 p.m. Friday, June 11; 8 and 10:30 p.m. Saturday, June 12; and 8 p.m. Sunday, June 13, at the Tempe Improv Comedy Theater, 930 East University (at Cornerstone mall). Expect at least some of the performance to be from his hysterical Uproar Entertainment CD Richard Jeni's Greatest Bits. Tickets are $15. 480-921-9877.
A new theater company tries its luck in the Valley scene this weekend--Theatre Maxim premieres with a production of Leonard Gershe's bittersweet romantic comedy Butterflies Are Free. Artistic director Dominik R. Rebilas plays the young blind man who falls in love with his neighbor, an off-off-Broadway actress played by Shana E. Bousard. Joe Bousard directs. The run kicks off with performances at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 10; and the same times Friday, June 11; and Saturday, June 12, at Planet Earth Theatre, 909 North Third Street. Tickets are $12. Call 602-265-3418 for more information.
The best-selling author of the Conversations With God books, Neale Donald Walsch, conducts a workshop from 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday, June 10, at the Radisson Resort Scottsdale, 7171 North Scottsdale Road. Tickets are $45. For reservations and more information, call Mishka Productions at 480-970-8543.
Theater Works kicks off its Summer Stock series with Taffetas, A Musical Journey Through the Fabulous Fifties, Rick Lewis and Arthur Witelaw's revue about a singing quartet of sisters from Muncie, Indiana, who take the mid-century nation by storm. Expect "Mr. Sandman," "Lollipops" and "Sincerely." Opening performances are at 8 p.m. Friday, June 11; 8 p.m. Saturday, June 12; and 2:30 and 7 p.m. Sunday, June 13, at Theater Works, 9850 West Peoria Avenue in Peoria. Tickets range from $15 to $16, with discounts for students and seniors. The run continues through Sunday, July 4. Call 623-815-7930 for information and reservations.
Former Texas governor Ann Richards, Olympian Jackie Joyner Kersee and actresses Mia Farrow and Lucie Arnaz are among the keynote speakers at this year's Arizona's Family Women's Expo. The seventh annual event also features health and beauty tips, cooking demos, career advice, etc. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 12; and the same on Sunday, June 13, in exhibit halls A through D at Phoenix Civic Plaza, Second Street and Adams. Admission is $7 at the door; proceeds benefit Arizona's Family Charities. Kids 3 and under get in free; holders of Safeway Club Cards get a buck off if they buy their tickets in advance at Safeway; seniors get a buck off at the door. Call 602-207-3825 for more information.
Arizona Cardinals defensive back turned author Aeneas Williams discusses and signs his new tome It Takes Respect, described as "a model for living for honoring and submitting to those in positions of authority," from noon to 1 p.m. Sunday, June 13, at Waldenbooks and More, 2917 South Dobson in Mesa. Williams says the book was inspired by his feeling "that respect for authority in professional sports and society in general was at an all-time low." Call 480-897-1677 for more information.
Valley poets of a philatelic bent are encouraged to bring a "postage stamp/Post Office poem to share along with other poems," as "Postage Stamp Special" is the title of this month's edition of the Divergent Arts Poetry Series, at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 13, at Long Wong's Live, 3623 East Indian School. Bards are advised to come early to sign up for the five-minute open-mike spots. Admission is free; donations are accepted. 480-947-0371.
Tucson's splendidly soulful folk outfit The Mollys, touring behind their fine 1998 CD Moon Over the Interstate, perform at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, June 13, at the Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School. The cover is $2. The band, which has a growing international reputation, has a sound ranging from Latin to polka to Celtic, with the last the most favored. 602-265-4842.
Eighties-era hit machine Pat Benatar, best known for such MTV standards as "Love Is a Battlefield," "We Belong" and "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," performs on Sunday, June 13, at the Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street. Tickets are $24.75, $25.75 the day of the show. 602-267-1600 (Celeb), 480-503-5555 (Dillard's).
Pam Howard facilitates a meeting of the American Sign Language Conversation Group at 7 p.m. Monday, June 14--and the second and fourth Mondays of each month--in the Music Lounge at Borders Books & Music at 1361 South Alma School in Mesa. All levels of fluency are welcome, and admission is free. 480-833-2244.
Reggae guy Walt Richardson performs at 7:30 p.m. Monday, June 14, on the southwest side of the lake at Kiwanis Park, Mill Avenue and All-America Way, as one of Tempe's "Concerts in the Park." Admission is free. The series continues through Monday, July 12. 480-898-5665.
Michael Brownlee, editor of Just in Case: Dispatches From the Front Lines of the Y2K Crisis, signs and discusses his book, a collection of 18 essays from independent journalists, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 15, at the Tempe Square location of Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 South McClintock in Tempe. 480-730-0205.
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At 7:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of every month, the Phoenix Rose Society meets at the Valley Garden Center, 1809 North 15th Avenue. On Tuesday, June 15, the scheduled guests will be rosemeisters Nelson Mitchell and Bill Carls, who will speak on how certain breeds become winners, among other topics of passionate interest to rose enthusiasts. Admission is free. 623-937-5713.
Comedian Richard Jeni (see Thursday) formulates the following syllogism: "God is love; love is blind; so it follows that . . . Ray Charles is God." It's hard to argue, especially while you're listening to him (Charles, that is, not Jeni). One of the greats of 20th-century American music, Charles performs on Wednesday, June 16, at the Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. The soul giant hails from Albany, Georgia, a community he claims maintained a constant population, because "every time another baby was born, another guy would leave town." Tickets for the show range from $32 to $42. 602-267-1600 (Celeb), 480-503-5555 (Dillard's).
Sax journeyman David Sanborn, who penned and performed the theme to Tom Snyder's lamented version of The Late Late Show, takes the stage for two shows, at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 16, at the Red River Music Hall, Mill and Washington in Tempe. Tickets are $29.75. 480-829-6779 (Red River), 480-503-5555 (Dillard's).
Getting tickets won't be easy at this point, but Oscar-winning actress and '70s retro goddess Cher takes the stage on Wednesday, June 16, at America West Arena, 201 East Jefferson. Ticket prices officially ranged from $30 to $75. 602-379-7800 (AWA), 480-503-5555 (Dillard's).