May 08, 2002



Andrea Nemerson's

Norman Solomon's

The nessie files

Tom Tomorrow's
This Modern World


PG&E and the California energy crisis

Arts and Entertainment

Venue Guide

Electric Habitat
By Amanda Nowinski

Tiger on beat
By Patrick Macias

By Josh Kun


Submit your listing


By Annalee Newitz

Without Reservations
By Paul Reidinger

Cheap Eats
By Dan Leone


Our Masthead

Editorial Staff

Business Staff

Jobs & Internships



Stage listings are compiled by Cheryl Eddy. Performance times may change; call venues to confirm. Reviewers are Robert Avila, Sima Belmar, Rita Felciano, and Brad Rosenstein. Theater intern is Lara Shalson. See 8 Days a Week for information on how to submit items to the listings.



The Clay Play 2840 Mariposa; 621-7978. $13-18. Previews Wed/8, 8pm. Opens Thurs/9, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Sat/18. Theatre of Yugen and Libby Zilber present their original play, a Zen-influenced work that mixes Noh movement and music with the tale of a potter at her wheel.

Cockroach Infestation New Langton Arts, 1246 Folsom; 776-7247. $12-15. Opens Thurs/9, 7:30pm (special actors' benefit). Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through June 2. See 8 Days a Week, page 50.

Fat Men in Skirts Studio 210, 3435 Cesar Chavez; 621-4736. $5-10. Previews Wed/8-Thurs/9, 8pm. Opens Fri/10, 8pm. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through June 1. Flux Theatre Company performs Nicky Silver's black comedy about a mother and son stranded on a desert island.

Greater America The Next Stage, 1620 Gough; 841-1262. $15 (Sun/12 and May 26, pay what you can). Opens Fri/10, 8pm. Runs Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through June 9. First Seen and Bare Bones Theater Company present the world premiere of Katherine Murphy's black comedy about a dysfunctional family.

Knuckles and Crunch Theatre Rhinoceros, 2926 16th St; 861-5079. $15-24. Previews Thurs/9-Fri/10, 8pm. Opens Sat/11, 8pm; Sun/12, 7pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm (also Sun/19, May 26, June 3, 3pm). Through June 8. Theatre Rhinoceros presents Doug Holsclaw's latest, a tale of two drifters who get jobs at a Columbus, Ohio, gay bar in 1978.

Night of the Iguana City College of San Francsisco, Diego Rivera Theatre, 50 Phelan; 239-3100. $5-10. Opens Fri/10, 8pm. Runs Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun/19, 2pm. Through Sun/19. City College of San Francisco presents Tennessee Williams's drama.

Will He Bop? Will He Drop? Buriel Clay Theater, African American Art and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton; 292-1852. $8-15 (Sat/11 gala, $25-100). Opens Thurs/9, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Sun/19. Black Artists Contemporary Cultural Experience presents the world premiere of Robert Alexander's play, a bebop- and beat-influenced exploration of one writer's mind.

Bay Area

The Entertainer Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; (510) 843-4822. $26-35. Previews Fri/10-Sat/11 and Wed/15, 8pm; Sun/12, 2pm. Opens Thurs/16, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through June 16. Aurora Theatre Company presents John Osborne's play about three generations of a showbiz family.

Love Is the Law La Val's Subterranean Theatre, 1834 Euclid, Berk; (510) 464-4468. $7-12. Opens Fri/10, 8pm. Runs Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through June 8. Impact Theatre premieres Zay Amsbury's play about a raver who falls in love with an undercover DEA agent.


Ain't Misbehavin' Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, 620 Sutter; 474-8800. $22-30. Extended run: Thurs/9-Sat/11, 8pm; Sun/12, 2pm. The Lorraine Hansberry Theatre presents the musical, set in 1930s Harlem and featuring the music of Fats Waller.

The Altruists Actors Theatre of San Francisco, 533 Sutter; 296-9179. $20-35. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Sat/18. The Actors Theatre of San Francisco presents a play about people who don't match their politics.

Are We Almost There? Shelton Theatre, 533 Sutter; 345-7575. $19-23. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Extended through June 16. The musical comedy revue about traveling returns to the Shelton Theatre.

By Jupiter Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson; 255-8207. $15-27. Thurs/9-Fri/10, 8pm; Sat/11, 6pm; Sun/12, 2pm. 42nd Street Moon launches its Richard Rodgers centennial season with the final show of Rodgers's brilliant collaboration with lyricist Lorenz Hart. The book, by Rodgers and Hart and based on Julian Thompson's The Warrior's Husband, is a playful trifle about the inversion of gender roles in Pontus, where the Amazon women fight and rule and where men tend the children and look pretty. Judging by contemporary reviews, the joke got a little thin even in 1942, but the lovely score features such gems as "Nobody's Heart," "Wait till You See Her," "Careless Rhapsody," and Hart at his naughty, witty best with "Ev'rything I've Got." (Rosenstein)

Coconut Masquerade Bindlestiff Studio, 185 Sixth St; 974-1167. $12-15. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through May 25. Teatro Ng Tanan presents Melinda Corazon Foley's play, written in verse, about a woman who is overwhelmed by her troubled past.

Come, My Beloved A Traveling Jewish Theatre, 470 Florida; 399-1809. $12.50-25. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Sun/19. There may well be a great piece of theater lurking in the biblical Song of Songs, but unfortunately A Traveling Jewish Theatre hasn't found it in Come, My Beloved. Adapter and director Naomi Newman had an interesting idea: to explore the poem's celebration of secular and divine love. This conflation of poetry, song, and movement links and contrasts a pair of rhapsodic contemporary lovers (David Mendelsohn and Tanya Shaffer) with an older woman (Krisztina Peremartoni) to whom the same honeyed phrases convey her erotic love of the divine. Unfortunately, the "contemporary" couple actually seems trapped in a '70s Hallmark-card vision of groovy lovin'. The cast is made up of first-rate actors who lavish considerable skill on the enterprise, but their efforts can't save them from the inherent absurdity and tediousness of supposedly modern lovers repeatedly praising each other's virtues with comparisons to myrrh, gazelles, et al. (Rosenstein)

Confessions of a Dope Dealer Exit Cafe, 156 Eddy; 666-3939. $10-15. Thurs/9-Sat/11, 8:30pm. Sheldon Norberg presents his autobiographical solo show, a comedic look at his drug experiences.

For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again Geary Theater, 415 Geary; 749-2228. $11-61. Previews Wed/8-Sat/11, 8pm. Opens Sun/12, 7pm. Runs Tues-Sat, 8pm (Tues/14 and May 21, shows at 7pm; also Sat and June 5, 2pm); Sun, 2pm. Through June 9. Olympia Dukakis stars in Michael Tremblay's play about a gay playwright's complex relationship with his mother.

How to Be a Secret Agent Girl as Seen on Television and in Movies Venue 9, 252 Ninth St; 289-2000. $10-15 (Thurs and Mon/13, pay what you can). Thurs-Sun and Mon/13 (special actors' benefit), 8pm. Through May 24. Cathleen Daly's comedic exploration of the female psyche, a Fringe Festival favorite, returns for a full run.

*Io! Princess of Argos Thick House, 1695 18th St; 401-8081. Thurs-Sun, 8pm (also Mon/13, 8pm, special actors' benefit). Through Sun/19. Encore Theatre Company revives Art Street's remarkably successful rendering of Greek tragedy as 21st-century lounge act, featuring princess Io (Beth Wilmurt), Argos's exile and Zeus's ex, forced to wander the desert as a cow with a gadfly trapped in her skull, wondering what it all means, until she runs into Prometheus chained to a rock and gets the straight dope. Writer-director Mark Jackson teamed up with composer Marci Karr to create this kinetic yet soulful musical comedy based on a scene from Aeschylus's Prometheus Bound that, for all its Vegas ambience, manages to convey some eternal truths, the gist of which is summed up in the defiant finale, "Ask Why." With expert accompaniment by Karr and David Babich, as well as a dazzling Greek chorus line of three (out of which pop Kevin Clarke as Prometheus, Janet Roitz as Hera, and Craig Jessup as King Ichanus, Io's conflicted father), Wilmurt delivers a richly textured performance, balancing emotional depth with technical ease and superb comic timing. A warm showbiz welcome is due this reprise of a play that reminds us how, even for the ancient Greeks, life was a cabaret. (Avila)

A Lady and a Woman Luna Sea Women's Performance Project, 2940 16th St, Second flr; 863-2989. $10-13. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through May 25. Luna Sea presents Claudia L. Vierra Allen's comedy about two African American women who find each other in the 1890s South.

Lavender Lockeroom Theatre Rhinoceros, 2926 16th St; 861-5079. $15-18. Return engagement: Thurs/9-Sat/11, 8:30pm; Sun/12, 7:30pm. HPH Players and Theatre Rhinoceros present the world premiere of F. Allen Sawyer's comedy inspired by gay pulp novels of the 1950s and '60s.

Malambo Theatre on the Square, 450 Post; 433-9500. $35-50. Tues-Thurs, 8pm; Fri-Sat, 8:30pm (also Sat, 3pm); Sun, 3 and 7pm. Through June 16. Luis Bravo (Forever Tango) presents the world premiere of his new Argentine dance and theater production.

Michelangelo Did This? Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy; 981-6444. $10-20. Thurs/9-Sat/11, 8pm. Genghis Productions presents Howard Hain's black comedy that imagines what would happen if Michelangelo were reincarnated as "a putz living in Iowa."

Sexaholix ... A Love Story Orpheum Theatre, 1192 Market; 512-7770. $33-59. Tues-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 3pm. Through Sun/19. Stage and film actor John Leguizamo performs his latest comedic solo show.

Shakespeare's R&J New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness; 861-8972. 861-8972. $18-35. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun/12, May 26, June 9, 16 and 23, 2pm. Through June 29. The New Conservatory Theatre Center presents Joe Calarco's version of Romeo and Juliet, set in a Catholic school for boys.

Sisters Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason, Ste 601; 989-0023. $20 (Thurs, pay what you can). Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through May 25. Phoenix Theatre baptizes its new, roomier digs with Canadian playwright Wendy Lill's drama about a nun who burns down a Catholic-run residential school for Indian children. The story unfolds as a series of flashbacks by accused arsonist Sister Mary (Esther Mulligan) as she mutely staves off interrogation by a young Jewish defense attorney (Bruno Kanter). While the sought-for confession is a familiar enough device all around, the story of young Mary (Lauren English) on the journey from religious idealism to moral corruption is timely indeed. Set in the late 1960s, Mary's violent act of contrition finds an echo in the thoroughly rebellious decade represented by her youthful attorney, who, significantly, turns out to have been an abused child himself. This thematic depth and director Bill English's competent cast sustain interest through a somewhat labored script. (Avila)

Speak the Devil Exit Theater, 156 Eddy; 820-1670. $10-18. Thurs/9-Sat/11, 8pm. The SF Buffoons present an original dark comedy inspired by medieval fools and street performers.

Stones in His Pockets Curran Theatre, 445 Geary; 512-7770. $34-59. Wed/8-Sat/11, 8pm (also Wed/8 and Sat/11-Sun/12, 2pm). Marie Jones isn't the first Irish playwright to note the negative impact of Hollywood on her native land. Stones tells the tale of a big-budget film crew invading a small village in County Kerry, ignoring its dramatic realities while using the place and its people as mere backdrops for yet another improbable Tinseltown fiction. Since stars Bronson Pinchot and Christopher Burns play all of Stones's roles, from townspeople to film crew, the piece is an actors' field day. Pinchot and Burns do a creditable job, but director Ian McElhinney consistently allows them to go zooming over the top into broad caricature. The slam-bang approach also accentuates the play's central flaw: its unconvincing shift into pathos with the death of an undersketched supporting character. (Rosenstein)

Tape Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center, Bldg D, Marina at Laguna; 441-8822. $17-37. Wed/8-Sat/11, 8pm; Sun/12, 2:30 and 7:30pm. In Stephen Belber's tightly focused three-person show, Jon (James Asher) meets up with his old high school buddy Vince (Gabriel Marin). There's been a major shift in their respective statuses since high school, and an unresolved rift regarding an old sexual encounter between Jon and Vince's ex-girlfriend Amy (Jessica Turner) has had Vince stewing ever since. When he finally goads Jon into confessing what happened – and tape-records the confession – it's an open question what either will do when Amy shows up. Tape is a divertingly nasty power play in which all involved are constantly jockeying for the upper hand, forcing us to continually reappraise what really happened. But there's an oddly sadistic quality to the play, as if Belber relishes watching his characters squirm. The actors all do fine work, but no one here wins much sympathy. (Rosenstein)

Bay Area

A Flea in Her Ear Altarena Playhouse, 1409 High, Alameda; (510) 523-1553. $9-12. Fri/10-Sat/11, 8pm; Sun/12, 2pm. Alameda Little Theatre presents George Feydeau's action comedy.

Así que pasen cinco años Oakland Metro, 201 Broadway, Oakl; (510) 763-1146. $15-20. Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through May 26. Oakland Opera Theater Company performs Federico García Lorca's work, staged as a bilingual multimedia production with puppets, live music, and more.

The Colour of Justice Oakland YWCA, Ehmann Hall, 1515 Webster, Oakl; (510) 436-5085. $15-19. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 4pm. Through May 26. TheatreFIRST performs a play that explores a real-life racially motivated murder case.

Homebody/Kabul Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison, Berk; (510) 647-2949. $38-54. Tues and Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Sat/11, Thurs/16, May 25, 30, June 8, 15 and 22, 2pm; no show Fri/3); Wed and Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm). Through June 23. While much has been made of Tony Kushner's "prescience" in writing his latest play, Homebody/Kabul, long before Sept. 11, the play is about much more than the events of the moment. The focus begins intimately in the cozy London living room of the Homebody (Michelle Morain), an obsessive reader who has settled in with a quaint but informative 1965 travel guide to Kabul. Surprisingly, this armchair traveler decides to go explore the world she has only read about. The action moves to Afghanistan, where the Homebody's husband, Milton (Charles Shaw Robinson), and daughter, Priscilla (Heidi Dippold), in pursuit of her, are told of her violent death in the streets of Kabul. This three-hour-and-forty-minute evening is absorbing, witty, fierce, and intelligent, but it's hard for Kushner to top the Homebody's astounding opening monologue. Like the script, Tony Taccone's direction has its rough spots, but his work here bristles with attentiveness and dynamism. (Rosenstein)

Long Day's Journey into Night Live Oak Theatre, 1301 Shattuck, Berk; (510) 528-5620. $10. Thurs/9-Sat/11, 8pm. Actors Ensemble of Berkeley presents Eugene O'Neill's play.

Medea UC Theatre, 2036 University, Berk; (510) 704-8210. $10-18. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through June 1. See "Mixed 'Medea,' " page 42.

L'Universe Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2025 Addison, Berk; (510) 647-2949. Tues-Fri, 8pm (no show Fri/10; added show Thurs/9, noon); Sat, 2 and 8pm; Sun, 1 and 4:30pm. Through Sun/19. After taking us on a virtual tour of the major theories of the universe, from Aristotle to Heisenberg, the Flying Karamazov Brothers use juggling to demonstrate how Einstein's desire for a unified field theory might have been compatible with Heisenberg's uncertainty principle after all – pretty heady stuff for four wacky guys who spend most of the evening cracking silly jokes and playing with high-tech toys designed by MIT's Media Lab. The dizzying result does less to explain the universe than to astound us with our inability to understand how they do their tricks any more than we understand quantum physics. But the metaphor does work to illustrate that the chaos and unpredictability of humans at play with one another have their own rhythmic beauty, perhaps even magic. One of the nicest parts of the performance comes when the entire stage is turned into a musical instrument that the performers "play" by wearing computers that detect acceleration and location to emit different tones and pitches, thus combining movement and technology to create music and dance. (Shalson)

What Cats Know Transparent Theater, 1901 Ashby, Berk; (510) 883-0305. $20. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through June 9. See "Mixed 'Medea,' " page 42.


Lizz Roman and Dancers ODC Theater, 3153 17th St; 863-9834. Wed, 7:30pm; Thurs-Sat, 8 and 9:30pm. $20. The company performs the site-specific 8 1/2 x 11, a work that consists of two simultaneous installations with live music.

Mary Armentrout Dance Theater The Lab, 2948 16th St; 864-8855. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through Sat/18. $10-15. See Critic's Choice.

'San Francisco Ballet School's Spring Student Showcase' Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, 3301 Lyon; 865-2000. Tues/14-Wed/15, 8pm (Wed/15, 5:30pm, preshow fundraiser, $150-500; call 415-553-2000 for information). $20. San Francisco Ballet students perform.

'San Francisco Ballet 2002 Repertory Season' War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness; 865-2000. Program eight: Wed, 7:30pm; Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Sat-Sun, 2pm). $10-120. Program eight consists of Giselle, a full-length program. Friday night is a "Casual Fridays" performance, with $42 tickets that include a preshow reception (6pm) and "Meet the Artist" discussion (7pm).

Scott Wells and Dancers Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St; 931-8648. Fri-Sun and Thurs/16, 8:30pm. Through Sun/19. $16. The group presents a new work about boxing, Rocky vs. Baryshnikov, plus two repertory pieces, Acrobatic Heartbreak and Recess.

Smuin Ballets/SF Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theatre, 700 Howard; 978-2787. 'Gershwin': Wed/8-Sat/12, 8pm (also Sat/12-Sun/13, 2pm). 'Mixed Repertory': Wed/15, Fri/17 (gala with dinner, $200-300), and Sat/18, 8pm (also Sat/18-Sun/19, 2pm). $30-40. The company performs Dancin' with Gershwin through Sun/12; the subsequent repertory program includes a Dvorák ballet premiere, plus Eternal Idol and Very Merrily Verdi.

'Through My Eyes' SomArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan; 441-8831. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. $12-20. Asian American Dance Performances presents works by Japanese and Japanese American choreographers working in a variety of styles. This weekend: Sachiko Nakamura and Debra Kajiyama in collaboration with Jose Navarete and Hiroko Tamano.

'Weaving in the Words, Dancing in the Web' New College Theater, 777 Valencia; (510) 352-1020. Sat, 7:30pm. $8-16. Olivia Corson, Lysa Castro, and Missy Krassner perform using Corson's "body tales" improvisational technique, in collaboration with Theresa Dickensen and Za Za Dance Theater.

Bay Area

'Julia's Feast of Dance' Julia Morgan Center of the Arts, 2640 College, Berk; (925) 798-1300. Sat, 8pm. $10. The Julia Morgan Center for the Arts presents a program of dance, including hip-hop, ballet, modern, Brazilian, and more performed by Attitude Dance, Berkeley Ballet, BrasArte, Mahea Uchiyama, and others.

'Palimpsest' Western Sky Studio, 2525 Eighth St, Berk; (510) 843-8914. Sun, 8pm. Free. An evening of dances by Sima Belmar, Remy Charlip, Sonya Delwaide, and Frank Shawl, with musical guests How You Duo.


'Cabaret of Sin' Spanganga, 3376 Mission; 487-7445. Thurs, 10pm. Through May 23. $15. This variety show combines a burlesque revue, fire dancing, Wild West stunts, music, and more.

'The Death of Griffin Hunter' Phoenix Theater, 414 Mason; 1-866-GOT-FURY. Mon-Tues, 8pm. $10. foolsFURY performs Kirk Wood Bromley's tragedy about a U.N. undersecretary who rapidly falls apart.

'DragPie' Marlena's, 488 Hayes; 864-6672. Fri, 10:30pm and midnight. Free. A cast of drag performers – including Cockatelia, Gypsy Calabrese, Sonfondaboyz, Manley Lennox, and Karen Kill – perform; this week's theme is "Tilly's Wild Kingdom: The Heavy Petting Zoo."

'Fourth Annual Funny Girlz: A Smorgasbord of Women's Humor' Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness; tickets (415) 392-4400; information (415) 522-3737. Sat, 8pm. $20-25. See 8 Days a Week, page 50.

'Horse Latitudes' Jon Sims Center for the Arts, 1519 Mission; 554-0402. Fri-Sun, 8pm. Through Sun/18. $8-15. The Jon Sims Center for the Arts' Alchemy Emerging Playwrights Series presents Nicola Harwood's new play about the intersections of Native American and white culture.

'Just a Tease' Proyecto ContraSIDA Por Vida (PCPV), 2973 16th St; 777-5500, ext 311. Fri, 7:30-10pm. Donations accepted (no one turned away for lack of funds). Bay Area lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth 25 and under are invited to showcase their art (performance or visual) at this gathering.

'Stories from Around the World' The Storytelling Manor, 3879 26th St; 647-2133. Sun, 11am-noon. $5. Performance artist Brian Shapiro spins tales from around the world for kids and grown-ups.

'The Unicorn, the Gorgon, and the Manticore' Florence Gould Theater, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, near 34th Ave and Clement; 771-3352. Sat-Sun, 2:30pm. $15-25. (Also Sun/19, 7pm, Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, One Lawson, Kensington). The San Francisco Chamber Singers performs Gian Carlo Menotti's work with special guest dancers and musicians.

'A Weekend of Youth Empowerment Through the Arts' Chinese Cultural Center, 750 Kearny; 775-2636. Fri, 7:30pm; Sat, 1:30pm. Call for price. Young Asian Women Against Violence presents spoken word, a poetry slam, and hip-hop performances.

'Women's Work' Venue 9, 252 Ninth St; 289-2000. Tues, $8-10. This ongoing performance series highlights women artists. This week: Insert, an improv movement piece by Margit Galanter; Purge and Mama Says by Kim T. Davis Dance; Serene Zloof's Manifest, a "hyper-kinetic comedy" in which she plays 19 characters; and the movement duet Blue Bird by Minoo Hamzavi and John Michael Doyle.

Bay Area

'The Beat on Both Sides ... A Cry for Freedom!' McClymonds High School, 2604 Myrtle, Oakl; (510) 597-1619. Fri-Sat, 7:30pm; Sun, 3pm. $8-17. See 8 Days a Week, page 50.

'El Río: A Staged Reading' La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck, Berk; (510) 845-4745. Wed, 7:30pm. $5-10. Andres Saito's play in progress about borders is presented by the Department of Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley. Proceeds benefit the Río Negro Community of Guatemala.


Bayfront Theater Fort Mason Center, Bldg B, Third fl, Marina at Laguna; 474-8935. Thurs, 8pm: "The Belfry Presents: Musical May," $7. Fri, 8pm: "Spring Musical!," improvised musical play, $12. Sat, 8pm: "3 x 3 Semi-Finals," improv competition, $12. Sat, 10:30pm: "And Now for Something Completely Improvised ...," Monty Python-inspired improv, $10. Sun, 8pm: "Sunday Players Present: The Ring Tournament," team improv competition, $6.

Brainwash Cafe 1122 Folsom; 861-3663. Thurs, 8pm: Comedy night with host Tony Sparks, free.

Luggage Store 1007 Market; 255-5971. Tues, 8pm: open mic with host Tony Sparks, free.

Punch Line 444 Battery; 397-7573. Thurs-Sat, 9pm (also Fri-Sat, 11pm): Carlos Mencia performs stand-up, $25.

Rasselas 1534 Fillmore; 921-2051. Mon, 9pm: "All Black Comedy Showcase," with Yayne Abeba, Tony Sparks, and others, free.

Sea Biscuit 3815 Noriega; 661-3784. Wed, 8pm: open mic comedy with hosts Tony Sparks and Tom Smith, free.

Bay Area

Black Box 1928 Telegraph, Oakl; (510) 595-5597. Thurs, 8pm: The Oakland Playhouse improv troupe performs improv comedy, $5.

Kimball's East 6005 Shellmound, Emeryville; (510) 658-2555, ext 4. Wed, 7pm: "The Other Comedy," multicultural comedy showcase, free before 7pm ($5 after).

Mingles 370 Embarcadero, Jack London Square, Oakl; (510) 466-5735. Fri, 7pm: "The Other Comedy," multicultural comedy showcase, free before 7pm ($5 after).

spoken word

Open mics take place almost every night in cafés throughout the Bay Area. If you want to perform, show up about half an hour before start time to put your name on the list. A day-by-day guide to word events and featured readers:

Wednesday: Bird and Beckett Books and Records 2278 Diamond; 586-3733. Poets James McGrath, Sterling Bunnell, and Bill Witherup read, 7:30pm, free. Cody's Books 2454 Telegraph, Berk; (510) 845-7852. "Poetry Flash," with Deborah Friedman and Meryl Natchez, 7:30pm, $2. La Peña Cultural Center 3105 Shattuck, Berk; (510) 849-2572. "Cafe Poetry," hosted by Kira Allen, 7:30pm, $2-5. Brainwash 1122 Folsom; 864-3842. "Spoken Word Salon," open mic with host Diamond Dave Whitaker, 8pm, free. Foothill Auditorium UC Berkeley, Hearst at Piedmont, Berk; (510) 642-2743. Poetry for the People presents a reading by Ruth Forman, 3pm, free.

Thursday: Jon Sims Center for the Arts 1519 Mission; 554-0402. "Lit @ JSC," with Storm Florez and Kristi Bruce, 8pm, $5-10. Dalva 3121 16th St; 252-7740. Open mic with host Harvey and featuring Heinous Pablo, 7pm, free. Unitarian Center 1184 Franklin; 338-2227. Andrew Levy and Bob Harrison read with contributors to Crayon magazine, 7:30pm, $7.

Friday: Yakety Yak Coffee House 679 Sutter; 285-2951. Open mic hosted by Gail Mitchell, 7:30pm, free.

Saturday: Coffee with a Beat 458 Perkins, Oakl; (510) 526-5985. "Word Beat Reading Series," with Rita Flores Bogaert and Ann Hunkins, plus open mic, 7-9pm, free.

Sunday: Bird and Beckett Books and Records 2278 Diamond; 586-3733. Poets Jerry Ferraz and Walker Brents read, with open mic, 7:30pm, free. Berkeley Community Media Studios 2339 Martin Luther King Jr, Berk; (510) 540-5990. "Fourth Annual Berkeley Poetry Festival," daylong event with poetry slam, open mic, featured readers, and more, 1pm, free. Justice League 628 Divisadero; "The Living Word Project presents Second Sundays," with Beau Sia, Blyss, and Avotcja, plus open mic and music, 8pm, $6-10.

Monday: Berkeley Bakery and Café 1561 Solano, Berk; "Poetry Express," open mic with featured readers from the Berkeley Poetry Festival, plus host Mark States, 7pm, free. Notes from Underground Café 2399 Van Ness; 928-8904. "Celebration of the Word," with featured readers Nancy Berry and Kent Dellaire and host Jeanne Powell, 7pm, free. Tuva Space 3192 Adeline, Berk; "Sedition: Poetry and Politics," with featured reader Thea Hillman, 7:30pm, free.

Tuesday: Andalusia Café 1209 Sutter; 928-8904. "Word Dancing," open mic with hosts Leonard Irving and Jeanne Powell, 7-9pm, free. The Beanery 2925 College, Berk; (510) 549-9093. "The Whole Note Poetry Series" hosts a poetry discussion, 7pm, free.