As we delve ever further into election season, it's increasingly important that the electorate stay well-informed about the full range of campaign issues. However, with television and radio far outweighing the printed word as our primary source of information, the flow of information is mediocre at best. The fact that a majority of Americans continue to blame Iraq for 9/11, despite facts that say otherwise, is evidence enough that something is terribly wrong in the mass media. Lewis Black, the apoplectic funnyman on Comedy Central's The Daily Show, must feel like a comedic Cassandra; Black's weekly pleas for a little common sense -- in his "Back in Black" segment -- obviously don't get through to the people in charge. The result is weeklong ramblings about the decline of morals -- from sanctimonious jerks like MSNBC's Joe Scarborough -- and an audience that eagerly swallows them. "It'd be one thing if we didn't have other issues to discuss, like education," Black fumes. "We have the worst education system in the world -- unless you're a country like Chad -- but that doesn't get one-tenth of the media attention Janet Jackson's breast got. We're at war, worrying about terrorists, the economy is ridiculous, we've got unemployment out the ass, and this is the one thing we can focus on?" Sadly, yes, it is. There's just too much worldwide idiocy for Black to cover each week. That's why he regularly tours the nation's comedy clubs, such as the Improv CityPlace (550 S. Rosemary Ave., West Palm Beach), where he performs this Thursday through Sunday. After he settles down from touring, Black says, he plans to write a book about how he formed his anti-authoritarian viewpoint. "It's about how, by the time I was 22, I'd developed a point of view, and it hasn't changed," Black says. "There's supposed to be this maturation process where people get a stick up their ass, but it hasn't really affected me." Let's pray it never does. Where else can decent, liberty-loving Americans go? Certainly not Scarborough Country. God save us if that happens. Tickets cost $25 to $35. Call 561-833-1812. --Jason Budjinski
Peggy in Flesh and Pixels
Peggy Guggenheim has been called generous, cheap, and schizophrenic. In The Trouble with Peggy: Pieces of Guggenheim -- a one-woman, multimedia play about the late, sometimes scandalous Jewish heiress and arts supporter -- award-winning playwright-actress Donna Blue Lachman takes on numerous roles, weaving Guggenheim 's own story with others' perceptions of her. Guggenheim, whose palazzo in Venice, Italy, is now a museum, lived in 1920s bohemian Paris, had multiple affairs, and, during the Holocaust, denied she was Jewish to save herself and several artists. That lie, her daughter's suicide, and her insecurities plagued her, said Lachman, who, during performances, appears on-stage as Guggenheim and on video projections as other characters -- including Guggenheim 's onetime husband (artist Max Ernst) and her friend Jackson Pollack. Slides of Guggenheim's avant-garde art collection are also shown throughout the show. "I look at [the show] as a cubist painting," says Lachman, who portrays Guggenheim as complex, witty, and lonely. "You actually see all sides of it at one time." Performances take place at the Hollywood Central Performing Arts Center (1770 Monroe St., Hollywood) Thursday through Sunday. Tickets cost $25. Call 954-924-8175. --Michelle Sheldone
When Jay met Stewart
It goes like this. Phyllis is married to Jay, who is having an affair with Stewart, who befriends Phyllis, who in turn invites Stewart to dinner, who accepts, knowing that Jay will be there. Confused? Find out exactly who's coming to dinner in Jon Marans' A Strange & Separate People, a drama depicting how Orthodox Jewish traditions conflict with homosexuality. The event is part of Florida Stage's "New Voices Series," during which actors sitting on stools behind music stands perform readings of new plays that are being considered for full-scale production. The actors "use full expressions but are not moving, which is very challenging," says Florida Stage intern Andrew Rosendorf. Audience members meet the playwright and pose questions after the show -- a 20-minute exchange that is "taken quite seriously," he says. "Playwrights often make changes based on the feedback." Tickets to this try-before-you-buy production are a steal at $7. Performance time is 7 p.m. at the Florida Stage Theatre (Plaza del Mar, 262 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan). Call 561-585-3433, or visit www.floridastage.com. --Michele D. Omenson
Gay Ex-Cons Are Funny!
When we called the Palm Beach Improv at CityPlace to ask about comedian Lyndell Massengale, manager Jordan Walsh said, "He's fairly new to the comedy scene here." That's because Massengale has been "away" for awhile -- serving 21 months in the federal pen for mail fraud after some wheeling and dealing involving an insurance policy or five. So, was prison a bummer? No! The openly gay Massengale compares being locked up in "a den of horny men" to winning the lottery. The comic now says, "I made a mistake, I regret it... now it's time to make fun of myself!" Check out Massengale's routine during Open Mic Night at the Improv (800 S. Rosemary Ave., West Palm Beach) -- and find out if there's anything funny about paying $158,600 in restitution! The show starts at 8 p.m. and admission is free. Call 561-833-1812. --Deirdra Funcheon