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Expect the unexpected: The Phoenix Improv Festival takes the stage at Paper Heart.


Don't expect Jose Gonzalez to dismiss the unflattering perception of young improvisers like himself -- that is, those melodramatic, overly extroverted speech and debate geeks whom Broadway will never acknowledge. "Oh, we're all that and more!" proclaims Gonzalez, a 26-year-old member of local improv troupe Galapagos. "I sympathize with people that think we're jerks -- because there are those improvisers who think they'll use improv simply as a way to get onto Saturday Night Live.

"But," he adds, "there's definitely a larger portion, at least locally, who just care about the work and realize that it's healthier than shooting for fame."

Whether ambitious or altruistic, 13 improv troupes from around the Valley, Tucson and across the country will ad-lib their way to The Paper Heart Gallery for the third annual Phoenix Improv Festival, Thursday, April 22, through Saturday, April 24. The troupes -- many from Valley high schools -- will perform long- and short-form improv (comedic and dramatic) for 45 minutes to an hour each, with material provided solely through audience participation.

Opening-night tickets are $6 each, with $12 admission on Friday and Saturday. Each show begins at 8 p.m. The Paper Heart is located at 750 Grand Avenue. Call 602-262-2020 for more information. -- Joe Watson

Bikes 'n' Strikes
Ride to BOB during the Family Fun Ride

Sun 4/25
From training wheels to tandem, the cycle of life takes its literal form on Sunday, April 25, for the Bike to BOB Family Fun Ride. The ride begins at 11 a.m. at Margaret T. Hance Park, 67 West Culver, where each cyclist gets refreshments, a tee shirt, and a ticket to the afternoon game between the D-Backs and San Diego Padres -- all for $12. See for details. -- Joe Watson

Heated Issue
The chips are stacked at the Salsa Challenge

Sat 4/24
Goodness gracious, great bowls of fire -- it's time for some fire-breathin' fun at the Tostitos Southwest Salsa Challenge, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 24, at Scottsdale Stadium. Hearty heat-seekers can sample salsa from more than 75 of the Valley's finest professional and amateur chefs, then soothe the sizzle at the Sauza Margarita Mix-off. Nearly 25,000 hotties are expected to enjoy the music of the Chadwicks and the Groove Merchants, while bungee runs, super slides and moon bouncers offer fun for la familia. Tickets -- $8 for adults, $3 for kids -- are available at the gate and metro Safeway stores. Proceeds benefit the Hemophilia Association of Arizona. See -- Susan Tully

Shorts Sighted
Brevity is the soul of ASU film fest

Sat 4/24
Who needs stadium seating, THX surround sound or even gourmet popcorn, anyway? Feh. We prefer to kick it underneath the stars in our lawn chairs, witnessing the ASU Art Museum's eighth annual Short Film and Video Festival. Instead of suffering through 45 minutes of mind-numbing Hollywood "trivia," interminable Moviefone ads and tepid trailers, we'll take in 18 short films and animation videos from celluloid superstars around the world. The three-hour festival even boasts the work of local auteurs, including Phoenix's Ricky Faust, whose 10-minute epic Homeland Security follows one man's personal hell of paranoia and terror in a "post-September 11 world." The fest begins at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 24, in the courtyard of ASU's Nelson Fine Arts Center, 51 East 10th Street in Tempe. Admission is free. Call 480-965-2292 or check out for details.-- Benjamin Leatherman


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