Romancing the past with Wonder Bread
Have you been too busy negotiating car insurance, condoms, and office politics to play with your G.I. Joe or Barbie? If so, you might find a balance in The Wonder Bread Years, comic Pat Hazell's one-man show that celebrates the childhood joys common to everyone. The show is an interactive, nostalgia-driven group therapy session in which you can unpack memories from a time -- simple, curious, and adventurous -- when your biggest worry was what costume to wear on Halloween.
Hazell began his career as a standup comic, making seven Tonight Show appearances since the late '80s and spending the early '90s writing for Seinfeld. His current show was born from the realization that people -- regardless of age or hometown -- really, really like to reminisce about their childhoods. So Hazell digs through closets of childhood innocence to retrieve the Easy-Bake Ovens, Etch-A-Sketches, and green army men that have been molding and gathering dust in the attic. Regardless of our age, it seems, we all long to once again be banished to the kids' table.
It may be romantic to seek escape from a post-Jerry Springer American society that prefers to squeeze so much rancid milk from childhood traumas. But so what? Bring on the good memories. We're lucky to live in a time and place where child labor laws have given us something called "childhood." It would be another thing if we were talking about current-day Southeast Asian sweatshops or the sooty memories of, say, William Blake's 18th-century chimney-sweep kids choking from black lung. We Americans have a lot of warm and gooey material to mine.
"Nostalgia humor creates community," says Hazell, who argues that there isn't much difference between a 70-year-old curmudgeon and a 25-year-old slacker. The curmudgeon may have played with metal army men and the slacker may have played with plastic army men. But the two can share the idyllic head space of a safe and quiet bedroom an hour before Mom calls "Suppertime!" The Wonder Bread Years runs Friday through Sunday at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts (701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach). Tickets cost $28. Call 561-832-7469. -- Dave Amber
Drop Some Cash
See this Play
Yo! Here's da drill. Larry "The Liquidator" Garfinkel from da Bronx buys poorly run, small companies and sells them piece by piece for profit. Gots that? So he goes after this New England Wire and Cable company and attempts to charm shareholders into selling their shares to him. But the president, an emotional kinda guy, isn't having any of it. When Larry meets Kate, the president's kid (and a hottie attorney), he decides he wants a piece of her too. But he ordinarily digs only donuts and greenbacks, so Larry's love for this chick puts a slight crimp in his buyout plans.
Kate is a real ball-bustah. She goes head to head with Larry to try to keep him away from the shareholders, as he tries to convince them that they'll make more money if they let him do his thing. When it looks like Larry is about to get his way after all, a new plan emerges and the company folks see his true colors. Sounds like fun, no? Check out Other People's Money at the Public Theatre of South Florida at the Soref Jewish Community Center (6501 W. Sunrise Blvd., Plantation). Showtimes are Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets range from $10 to $22. Call 954-537-3648 or visit www.publictheatre.com. -- Riki Altman
Vos is the boss
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What happens when a former coke-addicted alcoholic becomes a devoted family man with two daughters? Either he runs for president or becomes one of the most exciting comedians in the country. For Rich Vos, the political aspirations will have to wait as he brings his one-man act to Palm Beach Improv this weekend. Best-known for appearances on Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn and NBC's hit reality show Last Comic Standing, Vos' diversity has also landed him spots on The View and The Rosie O'Donnell Show. But if you're looking for sugar-coated Carrot Top gag humor, you might want to stay home. Vos' pull-no-punches approach is enough to make a drunken sailor blush. What else would you expect from the first white guy to ever perform on Def Comedy Jam? Nothing is off-limits -- even the audience -- as Vos rips potential hecklers with a tongue as sharp as the devil's. Lock up the kiddies and come out to the Palm Beach Improv at CityPlace (550 S. Rosemary Ave., Ste. 250, West Palm Beach). Vos hits the stage for six shows Friday through Sunday. Tickets cost $15.90. Call 561-833-1812, or visit www.palmbeachimprov.com. -- Paul A. Leone
All you guys and gals who play in bands probably have, at one time or another, dreamt of replacing that annoying bass player or tone-deaf vocalist with someone new -- preferably, someone you wouldn't mind sleeping with. Shit, that's almost as good as hooking up with an A&R rep. But for Linda and Armando Doval -- the respective vocalist and bass player of phoenix/NEBULIN -- theirs is a marriage of more than just music. The band ties the knot between the abrasive and the ethereal, mixing brash industrial pieces like "Chameleon" with lighter, melodic tunes like "Nebulin." It's an aural union of the sonic and the soothing. Phoenix/NEBULIN performs Friday at the Culture Room (3045 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale), opening for the Genitorturers (see music section). Tickets cost $15, and the show starts at 8 p.m. Call 954-564-1074. -- Jason Budjinski