It’s that blessed time of the year again when Christmas music becomes inescapable, inedible fruit cake gets baked, and someone gets mad about whatever cup design Starbucks is featuring this year. If you need some nerdy respite from our consumerist wonderland, you’re in luck. There’s plenty of fun things to do and see in the Valley this December. So round up your reindeer and sleigh your way to one of these holiday happenings.
Die Hard: A Christmas StoryPlayhouse on the Park at Central Arts Plaza
1850 North Central Avenue
Gather round children, as we witness the miracle at Nakatomi Plaza. As much of a Christmas tradition as “The Little Drummer Boy,” eggnog, and hoping to God that tacky sweater Aunt Patti gave you comes with a gift receipt, Die Hard gives you all the roaring fires and goodwill towards men you’ll ever need. Did we say goodwill? We meant bullets to the face. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to see John McClane and Hans Gruber duke it out as puppets, you’re in luck. Those irascible scamps at All Puppet Players have put together a hilarious tribute to John McTiernan’s action classic.
Running from December 6 to 28, Die Hard: A Christmas Story will be playing at Playhouse on the Park at Central Arts Plaza. Showtime is 8 p.m. for all performances, except on December 22 when the puppets spring to life at 7 p.m. Ticket prices range from $26 to $55 and can be purchased via Phoenix Theatre’s box office.
Please note: This puppet show is NOT for kids. Those yippee ki yays ain’t gettin’ bleeped.
Empty WordsAside Theatre
3508 North Seventh Street
Science fiction probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Dostoevsky. Gloomy? Yes. Russian? 100 percent. Probably should read his stuff but haven’t? You and just about everybody else, pal. But sci-fi? Books like Crime and Punishment and The Idiot exist on an entirely different planet from that genre, which is what makes B3 Productions’ upcoming show Empty Words so interesting. Director Ilana Lydia takes Bryant Mason’s adaptation of Dostoevsky’s ax-murdering classic and drops it into a paranoid world inspired by George Orwell and Terry Gilliam’s dystopian sci-fi classic Brazil. Empty Words puts an otherworldly spin on this classic tale of alienation, damnation, and redemption.
Empty Words runs from December 6 to 22 at Aside Theatre. Showtimes are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m., with an “industry night” Monday performance on December 9 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 and available via Aside Theatre.
LibCon WestVelma Teague Library
7010 North 58th Avenue, Glendale
Libraries are usually oases of silence and tranquility. Anyone expecting to get shushed on December 7 at the Velma Teague Library is going to be disappointed. It’s that special time of the year when Glendale’s oldest library turns into a hive of nerdy scum and villainy. Glendale librarians band together to put on LibCon West, a freewheeling mini-convention of cosplay, tabletop gaming, and public performances.
This year’s event will feature a Lightsaber Walk through downtown Glendale, improv comedy from Brelby Theatre, musical renditions of movie and video game scores by Driftwood Quintet and Dratini on the Rocks, and workshops on Star Trek and how to get into cosplay. LibCon West runs from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, December 7. It's free to attend.
Stir Crazy Comedy Club
6751 North Sunset Boulevard, Suite E-206, Glendale
Laugh it up, fuzzballs. If you’re looking to be among your people and share a laugh or two, you’re bound to find plenty of fellow maladjusted dorks at comedy shows. The fine folks behind Bird City Comedy Festival have put together an all-female lineup for their Ladybug Comedy show in Glendale that’s sure to have you in more stitches than the Bride of Frankenstein. Featuring touring comedian Lisa Curry, Ladybug Comedy will have sets by Genevieve Rice, Mary Upchurch, Savannah Hernandez, and Hannah Tighe. Bonus: It’ll end early enough that you can still catch the latest Watchmen episode before hitting the hay.
Ladybug Comedy is happening on Sunday, December 8, from 7 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $15 and available via the Stir Crazy Comedy Club site.
The Rebel Lounge
2303 East Indian School Road
The Mandalorian has a lot going for it: spaghetti Western vibes, Werner Herzog, and adorable marketing schemes. But one thing the streaming show is missing is dope-ass rhymes and beats that slap, bang, and/or knock. The Mouse House should throw some cash MC Chris’s way. The veteran nerd-rapper has been slinging hot bars about Mandalorians for years. The Aqua Teen voice actor and OG nerdcore rapper can drop verses with the best of them, but whereas most rappers wax poetic on C.R.E.A.M., MC Chris is more likely to rap about THAC0 and Muppet Babies.
MC Chris will be playing at The Rebel Lounge on Monday, December 9. The show starts at 8 p.m. There will be a costume contest, so come dressed to impress in your Jabba’s Palace best. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 day of the show. They can be purchased in advance via Eventbrite.
Gremlins: BS Movies Presents
815 North Second Street
Forget A Christmas Story, Die Hard, or anything involving Ebenezer Scrooge. The greatest Christmas movie ever made is Joe Dante's Gremlins. Released in 1984, this horror-comedy classic is nearly two hours of sheer merry mayhem. A monster movie with a Looney Tunes sensibility, Gremlins is the kind of movie that makes you want to shout “HELL YEAH” Steve Austin-style after watching an old lady get catapulted out a window. It also features Gizmo, the original Baby Yoda. Accept no substitutes.
Gremlins will be presented by the folks behind the podcast BS Movies at FilmBar on Friday, December 13, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased through FilmBar.
Yule Ball 2019: Hogwarts Wonderland
The Van Buren
401 West Van Buren Street
Dust off your house robes and get ready to get your Slytherin on at The Van Buren. For this year’s Yule Ball, the Phoenix music venue is transforming itself into a Hogwarts for those over the age of 18. DJ Hartbreaks and classical group Lumos will be playing magical tunes, and there will be Harry Potter trivia games and even Potions classes where you can learn how to make craft cocktails. There will, of course, be ample amounts of Butter Beer on tap. Vendors will be selling their wares inside The Van Buren’s very own Diagon Alley. Costumes and cosplay are encouraged. As to whether or not a drunken game of Quidditch will break out in the parking lot after hours — who knows? If it does, though, it’ll be a Bring Your Own Broom situation.
Yule Ball 2019: Hogwarts Wonderland is happening on Friday, December 20, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 day of the event (the price of admission does not include Potions Class). Tickets can be purchased via Ticketweb.
National Comedy Theatre
214 West Main Street, Mesa
Anyone who’s played a few sessions of Dungeons & Dragons knows that comedy and tabletop games go together like Mountain Dew and rolling d20s. A certain amount of inherent wackiness is baked into the genre. There are portable holes, bags of holding, and evil smurfs named Xvarts. It’s no wonder that podcasts and comedy shows across the country have embraced role-playing over the last decade. And when it comes to local role-playing game laugh providers, nobody gets the job done better than the crew behind Comedy&D. Featuring a mix of regular performers and guest comedians, each show features an increasingly frustrated Dungeon Master trying to run a game without it getting derailed by the insane barbarians, extremely horny druids, or murder hobo thieves (all played by comics). It’s like getting hit with a Tasha’s Hideous Laughter spell for an hour, only you don’t get to make any saving throws (and you have to pay for it).
Comedy&D is happening on Saturday, December 21, at 5 p.m. Tickets are $5 and available via the National Comedy Theatre Phoenix website.
Silent Night, Deadly Night
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1140 East Baseline Road, Tempe
Even if you’ve never seen the original Silent Night, Deadly Night, you’ve probably seen a bit of its sequel if you’ve been online for more than five minutes. The notorious “GARBAGE DAY!” meme comes from its sequel, the even more unhinged Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2. While you won’t get to see Garbage Day play out at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s screening of the original Silent Night, Deadly Night, what you will see is a gory, nasty good time. This horror cult classic takes the “naughty or nice” holiday dilemma to a bloody extreme —except instead of lumps of coal, this particular St. Nick rewards the wicked with decapitations and antler impalements.
Silent Night, Deadly Night screens on Tuesday, December 24, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $7 and available via Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s ticketing system.