Heard any good jokes lately about New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and his (allegedly) soft balls? We're guessing that you have, since many a comedian (not to mention sports wags nationwide) have gotten a lot of mileage out of the whole hullabaloo surrounding Deflategate. And such cracks and quips are probably going to keeping coming, what with Super Bowl XLIX happening Sunday, February 1, over in Glendale.
We're equally as certain that those won't be the only sort of jokes inspired by football you'll hear during the next few days, as the NFL, its many controversies this season, and such colorful stars as infinitely quotable Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman providing endless amounts of material.
That's sure to include any of the stand-up comics, comedy performers, and improvisation artists who are scheduled to perform in and around metro Phoenix during Super Bowl week, ranging from such superstars as Kevin Hart and Jim Gaffigan to the cutups at local venues like Stand Up Scottsdale and the Torch Theatre.
And while there's little chance of getting access to the biggest gig of Super Bowl week (i.e. the Tonight Show taping at the Orpheum) unless you somehow got tickets, you're more than welcome to sample the shenanigans at any of the following 11 comedy events in the Valley.
When it comes down to it, Justin Rivera is sort of a hacky magician. And therein lies the joke of his sets, where the Filipino-American performer turns hammy bits, gags, and stunts like bad card tricks and awkward guessing games into comedy gold, which is perhaps his greatest trick of all. He isn't Criss Angel or David Copperfield by any means, and that's certainly not a slight.
While we can't guarantee that you'll explode with laughter when stand-up comedians like Gary Owen and DeRay Davis perform in the round at the Celebrity Theatre on Saturday, January 31, we're willing to bet that you'll get in at least a chuckle or three. Nikki Carr of NBC's Last Comic Standing and Comedy Central regular Dillon Garcia will open the event, which starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $48 to $88.
Spoof 'n' Cinema
As shows like Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and its spiritual successor, RiffTrax, have both proven, it's a blast to make fun of bad movies. Such is M.O. of the Spoof 'n' Cinema series at the National Comedy Theatre in Mesa. The latest edition of the ongoing event on Thursday, January 29, will set its sights on the 1936 schlockfest The Amazing Adventure, which stars Cary Grant and Mary Brian.
NCT's resident comedians will attempt to make watching the cinematic stinker a funny experience by unleashing plenty of barbs, sound effects, and even new plot twists during the screening, which begins at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $8. The theatre will also host its "Midnight Show" starting at 11:45 p.m. on Saturday, January 31, which offers uncensored laughs for a 17-and-over crowd. Tickets are also $8.
While he appeared in many a Spike Lee joint in the early '90s -- including Do the Right Thing, Mo' Better Blues, Malcolm X, and Clockers -- it isn't Steve White's only claim to fame. The comedian and actor was a regular on Def Comedy Jam and even served as a guest announcer on The Price is Right. He's also one helluva funny guy.
White tends to cover a lot of ground in his routines: sex, relationships, race, jobs, drugs, sports, and politics. In fact, he's got plenty of material about the current commander-in-chief, including this gem: "Barack [Obama] made history twice," White jokes. "He's the first black president and the last black president." Zing. You're certain to hear many cracks at the POTUS' expense during any of White's seven different appearances at the House of Comedy in North Phoenix from Wednesday, January 28, to Sunday, February 1. Showtimes vary and tickets are $15-$20.
The Cerberus Cup XX
Guess what? The vaunted Vince Lombardi trophy isn't the only big prize that will be awarded after an intense competition this weekend. Teams consisting of three local improv comedians each will duke it out in hilarious fashion during a two-night tournament at the Torch Theatre in a quest to claim the coveted Cerberus Cup.
A series of qualifying bouts will take place on Friday, January 30, where three teams each get 15 minutes to bring the funny and outdo their opponents. Audience members will cast votes to decide who moves on to the final showdown on Saturday, January 30. The preliminary rounds are scheduled for 8:30, 9:30, and 10:30 p.m. on Friday, and the finals kick off at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is $10 per round or $20 for the entire tournament.
Arizona Long Form Improv Festival
The duo of Tim O'Malley and Jay Sukow boasts some impressive comedy credentials, to say the least. Both are alumni of Chicago's famed Second City system and have worked with the likes of Stephen Colbert, Steve Carrell, Bob Odenkirk, and the late Chris Farley.
O'Malley and Sukow will team up with the cutups of the Outliars Comedy Club during two nights of improvisational laughs on Friday, January 30, and Saturday, January 31, at the Four Points by Sheraton Phoenix South Mountain in Ahwatukee. Performances are at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. both nights. Admission is $20.
Admittedly, Jim Norton's comedy is a bit of an acquired taste, which is to say that it's not for everyone. Like the man himself, his humor is absolutely rude, crude, vulgar, and oftentimes scatological, as well as being equal parts crass and caustic. It's also decidedly hilarious, if you happen to jibe with his twisted brand of funny or are as dysfunctional or screwed up as he might be.
Norton is unabashedly an equal opportunity offender and will certainly shock and appall as he entertains during any of the four stand-up gigs he'll unleash over the course of two nights at the Tempe Improv. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Friday, January 30, and at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Saturday, January 31. Tickets are $22 for each.
Speaking of twisted and vulgar, comedian and showman Jeff Beacher is just that, as is his infamous L.A. club night and touring revue, which offers a madcap mix of Vaudeville-like camp and drag queen-style vamp with doses of burlesque bawdiness and an unusual cast of sideshow-like performers.
Consisting of a cavalcade of costumed little people, Amazonian women, transvestite singers, and more than a few circus performers, Beacher's Madhouse will arguably feature one of the more unique nightlife experiences of Super Bowl week when it rolls through BLUR Nightclub in Scottsdale on Thursday, January 29. The show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets are $100.
Friar's Club Roast of Terry Bradshaw
Legendary Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback and Fox NFL Sunday co-host Terry Bradshaw never seems to take himself too seriously, at least when he's on camera. So we're guessing that he won't be too phased, save some jags of mock indignation, when he gets skewered by the likes of Lisa Lampanelli, Jeff Ross, Don Rickles, the aforementioned Jim Norton, and frequent foil Frank Caliendo during his celebrity-filled roast on Thursday, January 29, at the Arizona Biltmore.
Its being put on by the Friar's Club (natch) and will reportedly include appearances by Jerry Lewis, Larry King, Rob Riggle, Erin Andrews, Howie Long, and even Jordin Sparks. Joel McHale of Community and The Soup will host the event, which goes from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and is preceded by a luncheon. The admission prices are nothing to laugh at, however, and range from $500 to $1,000 for lunch and $1,000 to $5,000 for the roast itself. If that's not within your means, portions of the event will be aired on ESPN2 during an hour-long special on the evening of Friday, January 30.
If the sum total of your knowledge of Jim Gaffigan's comedy begins and ends with his famous and oft-quoted Hot Pockets bit, you really ought to check out his vast repertoire of material. There's definitely no shortage of hilarious material available, considering he's released nine albums (including the fantastic King Baby and Beyond the Pale), recorded on three different specials, appeared on dozens of TV shows, and even penned two books, most of which contain his style of understated and oftentimes off-kilter everyman comedy. Oh, and also his obsession with food, which is frequently fodder in his routines.
You could also just attend one of the four shows he's scheduled to perform at Talking Stick Resort over three night, which will probably provide a good primer on the renowned standup. Performances are at 8 p.m. on Thursday, January 29; Friday, January 30; and Saturday, January 31, with an additional show at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are $45 to $150.
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There's no doubting Kevin Hart's fame, popularity, or drawing power. For proof, look no further than the fact that the comedian's one-night gig at Comerica Theatre morphed into a three-night stint because of sheer demand. Plus, he's been all over the cineplexes as of late in hit films like Top Five and The Wedding Ringer, not to mention the soon-to-be-released Get Hard.
Hart's going to be all up in downtown Phoenix's grill during Super Bowl week, as he also reportedly will team up with Get Hard co-star Will Ferrell for a "lip sync battle" against Jimmy Fallon during the sold-out Tonight Show episode being staged at the Orpheum Theatre on Sunday, February 1. And while it's extremely hard to get into the taping at this point, it's still possible to see Hart at Comerica Theatre. Single tickets, while scant, can still be had for the 7:30 p.m. shows on Friday, January 30, and Saturday, January 31. Meanwhile, tickets are readily available for the 10:30 p.m. performance on Saturday. Prices start at $59.50.