In order to provide equal-opportunity enjoyment, rabbi/standup comedian Bob Alper flips through "flash cards for the Judaically challenged" whenever he starts off his G-rated show. The cards, bearing phrases like "Passover = No Bread," let non-Jews in on the rabbi's jokes, such as the one about the airline that, for a special-request Passover meal, offered bagels. While Gentiles brush up on Jewish rituals, Alper tells the Jewish folks to talk amongst themselves. "It's like asking mammals to breathe," comes the punch line. Seems unorthodox, but Alper is as comfortable in front of comedy crowds as he is leading prayers. The Jewish cleric from Vermont, who resembles a "wild and crazy guy"-era Steve Martin, kicked off his comedy career in a Jewish Comic of the Year contest in 1986. He's since appeared on Comedy Central and released a comedy album, Bob Alper -- Rabbi/Stand-Up Comic (Really). Alper performs today at 2 and 8 p.m. at the Broward Stage Door Theatre, 8036 W. Sample Rd., Coral Springs. His run of Wednesday and Thursday shows continues through June 25. Tickets cost $20. Call 954-344-7765.
Harvey Stein was fourteen years old when he visited Coney Island for the first time, and the amusement mecca on New York's Atlantic coast made quite an impression on the kid. The towering Parachute Jump was so high he was afraid to try it, but he bucked up after seeing a little old lady on the thrill ride. "I was wobbly for at least a week," he recalls. Luckily he hadn't downed one of Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs -- a boardwalk staple -- before the leap. Now a photographer living in New York City, Stein has been shooting pictures of the "poor man's Riviera" for more than 25 years. Unlike today's theme parks, which are covered with an antiseptic sheen, "Coney Island is grimy and authentic and honest and straightforward," he says. Photos of its rides, boardwalk amusements, shops, and beach say as much, and they feature the kinds of people who have been enjoying the place for more than 100 years. Shots from Stein's photo book, Coney Island, are on display through August 8 at the Palm Beach Photographic Centre, 55 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach. Admission is a suggested $3 donation. Call 561-276-9797.
Worms aren't much to look at, but they know how to provide the John D. MacArthur Beach State Park in North Palm Beach with spectacular underwater views. In the park's waters, a reef system is home to colorful sponges, sea fans, and fish of all types. But the reefs are not home to coral; the water's too cool that far north. Instead, marine worms have built a colony on top of a limestone shelf just offshore, using sand to construct cementlike shells around themselves. In the gaps between their minicondos, plants grow and serve as homes for smaller fish, which serve as a food source for larger species, such as nurse sharks and squid. In the summer, weather patterns allow for clearer water and intense sea-life activity, so on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month, the park offers guided snorkel tours. Prime viewing is just 60 yards offshore in 20 feet of water. Divers must have snorkeling experience and their own gear. Reservations are required for the two-and-a-half-hour excursion, which begins with a 9:30 a.m. slide show on marine life. The tours continue through August. Snorkeling is free, but the park's $3.25-per-car gate fee applies. The park is located at 10900 Ocean Blvd., North Palm Beach. Call 561-624-6952.
The kitchen is where all the action takes place. Families eat, pray, laugh, cry, and fight in the kitchen, and playwright Woody Eney was smart enough to set Glen Echo, an autobiographical family drama, there. The year is 1947, the setting a rural home in Virginia, and the kitchen is the nexus point for three generations of Henrys. Hene, as the youngest Henry is called, is making plans to go to Glen Echo amusement park, just outside of Washington, D.C., with his grandfather, Henry. Because Hene and his father, Hank, aren't close, however, Hank isn't part of the plans. As the play progresses, we learn that Hank doesn't know how to show affection. He is, however, trying to change, and his emotional development is what keeps the play moving. Echo will be given a staged reading during today's installment of "Theater With Your Coffee," a play-reading series taking place at the Hollywood Boulevard Theatre, 1938 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. A $5 donation is suggested, and coffee and desserts are served during the reading. Call 954-537-9428.
Ginger Spice reportedly quit because Scary Spice was dissing her, but there's still plenty of variety left for the Spice Girls Spice World Tour '98. And does it matter what flavors go into the pot, anyway? Apparently not. The members of the pop-dance quintet didn't hook up through mutual contacts on the music scene like most bands. Instead they were culled from England's acting and modeling circuit in 1993 and hastily tossed together. Obviously, Ginger and Scary aren't spices that mix, even after a long marination. The remaining condiments perform at 8 p.m. tonight at Coral Sky Amphitheatre, 601-7 Sansbury's Way, West Palm Beach. Ticket prices range from $24.75 to $45.75. Call 561-793-0445.
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