A 'Star Wars' holiday train wreck, drinking with the Hamm's Bear: A-List 12.12

Try not to see this face in your nightmares tonight.

Try not to see this face in your nightmares tonight. 'Star Wars Holiday Special'

Check out our top picks for event happenings this week.


The 12th Annual Star Wars Holiday Special Toys for Tots Spectacular
Bryant-Lake Bowl

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, the Star Wars franchise made its first major misstep. The year was 1978, an era filled with Christmas specials, variety shows, and Bea Arthur. The Star Wars Holiday Special takes all three of these things and mashes them into one giant bong hit of weirdness. It starts with Chewbacca’s family, hounded by the Empire and anxious for his return home for Life Day. While the first five minutes or so are in Wookie, the program soon switches to English, with random scenes featuring celebs of yesteryear. There’s Art Carney as a human trader with a heart of gold; Jefferson Starship, singing into the most phallic microphone ever; and the aforementioned Arthur as a bartender in space. OG cast members show up, too, including a super-annoyed Harrison Ford, an (admittedly) out of it Carrie Fisher, and a wide-eyed Mark Hamill. Add in a cartoon segment and some B-roll Darth Vader footage, and you have something that 40 years later still amazes people with its magical shittiness. See it at BLB this Wednesday. Screenings are at 4, 7, and 10 p.m. Admission is free with a new Toys for Tots donation. 810 W. Lake St., Minneapolis; 612-825-3737. —Jessica Armbruster

Dwight Slade
Acme Comedy Co.

“The popularity of standup comedy in the past few years has been mercuric,” says comedian Dwight Slade. “This is the first generation that has grown up with George Carlin and Richard Pryor as acknowledged icons. People have grown up with it and they want new and unique perspectives from it.” That means new challenges for comics. “Your window to make an impression is small,” says Slade. This past year, Slade did a Dry Bar comedy special, and a clip from it received two million views. “Two million people saw my standup, and that opened a little window,” he adds. He later found out that his clips on Sirius/XM in turn have spiked. Onstage, Slade tries to mix his well-known material with some newer observations. He also tells audiences about how he’s backing the president. “It’s done tongue-in-cheek, and it’s all the wrong reasons to support him.” 18+. 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $18. 708 N. First St., Minneapolis; 612-338-6393. Through Saturday —P.F. Wilson

Steve Simeone
Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy

“I want it all to be clean and family-friendly so kids can listen to it, and grandparents can listen to it,” Steve Simeone says of his comedy. “I want it to just be a celebration of life. The world is so crazy right now; it doesn’t take a genius to tell you what’s wrong and to focus on that. We’re all experiencing this together.” It took a while for Simeone to come to this point of view. “The most important things in life we take for granted,” he says, “like watching a ballgame with your dad.” This past February, he had a chance to watch, with his father, his hometown Eagles win the Super Bowl. “I flew down to Florida to watch it with him. That’s better than a Rolls Royce or a mansion.” He’s also making transitions in his day-to-day life. “I was in Texas recently,” he explains, “and I woke up, grabbed a cup of coffee, and out of habit I said ‘good morning’ to someone and they said it back to me.” He was stunned. “So, I just walked around with my coffee and said ‘good morning’ to everyone because that doesn’t happen in L.A.” 16+. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Friday; 9:45 p.m. Friday; 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday. $16-$23. 408 E. Broadway, Mall of America, Bloomington; 952-858-8558. Through Saturday —P.F. Wilson

Shop local happenings
Various locations

This week’s opportunities to shop local are as varied as your gift list. Things kick off Wednesday at Cookie House Press, Coffee House Press’ (79 13th Ave. NE, Ste 110, Minneapolis) annual book party. This book sale runs from 5 to 8 p.m., and includes DJ tunes, paper snowflake crafts, sweets, and cookie recipes to match new book releases. Not Your Average Holiday Party at WeWork (1350 Lagoon Ave., Minneapolis) is an office party for those who don’t work from an office (though everyone is welcome). Shop locally made goods from a market that includes Moth Oddities, Cherry Moon Press, and Larissa Loden Jewelry. Make s’mores with friends, do some work at the gift-wrapping station, and enjoy a drink. The event runs from 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursday. The kooky-cool cooperative A Conspiracy of Strange Girls is teaming up with Artspace Jackson Flats (901 18 1/2 Ave. NE, Minneapolis) for A Winter’s Night Market on Saturday, from 4 to 9 p.m. Here you’ll find leatherwork, paintings, jewelry, and more from over 30 independent designers. There will also be live music and drinks. —Jessica Armbruster


'Blackbird' Megan Engeseth


Grain Belt Warehouse

Count on Sara Marsh’s hard-hitting Dark and Stormy Productions to deliver December fare that’s anything but Christmas-y. While Blackbird may be a break from reindeer and snowmen, it’s hardly what you’d call escapist entertainment. David Harrower’s 2005 play was partly inspired by the terrible true story of Toby Studebaker, the former Marine who met an 11-year-old girl on Neopets and took her to Paris for sex. The play’s been produced around the world, including a Broadway show with Michelle Williams, and was adapted into the Rooney Mara film Una. In the Dark and Stormy production, Marsh plays Una, a young woman who approaches her abuser 15 years after an incident resembling the Studebaker crime. Luverne Seifert, an actor who can become an intimidating onstage force, is the middle-aged Ray. In the close confines of Dark and Stormy’s Grain Belt studio space, expect a gripping real-time encounter that you won’t soon forget... and that might just leave you feeling like a nice Hallmark movie wouldn’t be so bad after all. For tickets, visit 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, plus Monday, December 17 (no show December 19). $15-$39. 77 13th Ave. NE., Minneapolis; 612-401-4506. Through January 5—Jay Gabler

Made Here

Made Here Photo by Steven Lang

FRIDAY 12.14

Detours: Made Here
Downtown Minneapolis

Since 2013, Made Here has added a bit of whimsy to downtown Minneapolis, taking empty storefronts, windows, alleys, and billboards and filling them with art. Past efforts have included pieces that invited people to shake up the status quo, to notice areas often overlooked, and to build new connections in the neighborhood. Over the past five years, the project has seen over 300 window displays and 11 installations. This week, Made Here returns with “Detours,” which will be the final iteration of the project. There will be photography; pieces utilizing neon, steel, concrete, and paint; and an installation made from plastic bottles, paper, and traffic lights. See it first at the launch party, which will include a retrospective exhibit, a virtual reality lounge, craft cocktails, DJ tunes, and performances from Hamdi Shahid, Lt. Sunny, and Rana May. See live painting from local artist Reggie LeFlore, and play with an interactive light display by Brian Scalak. The party runs from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Friday, December 14. Free. Hennepin Theatre Trust, 900 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-455-9500. Through March 24 —Jessica Armbruster

Sisyphus Speakeasy
Sisyphus Brewing

Generally, taprooms serve beer straight up in a pint glass. This Friday, Sisyphus is mixing things up—literally. As usual, they’ll have a wide variety of beers on tap, but the comedy club, housed in a room separate from the main pub, will become a speakeasy. Here they’ll serve five custom, one-night-only beertails (aka cocktails made with beer). Sisyphus threw a similar party a year ago. Now it returns with “beertender” Andy Robertson and his secret concoctions. Word on the street is that the ingredients will include botanicals, fruit, tonics, and a special barrel-aged stout. Once inside, be sure to whisper the secret password: New England clam chowder. 6 to 11:30 p.m. Free. 712 Ontario Ave. W., Minneapolis; 612-321-8324. —Loren Green

E/D: Animus
The Southern Theater

Emily Michaels King and Debra Berger, two theater artists behind the collaborative E/D, find inspiration in Ingmar Bergman’s 1966 psychological film Persona for their latest creation. Using performance, multimedia projection, and live video by Amber Johnson of DangerVision Productions, Animus explores notions of personal identity, including how our digital and social-media saturated world muddies the water about what is real and what’s not. Like the original film, the story follows two women—one who speaks, one who doesn’t—whose identities get jumbled together. E/D takes the juiciest bits of Bergman’s perplexing masterpiece and brings it into the 21st century. The show is part of the Ingmar Bergman Jubilee, marking 100 years since the birth of the famous filmmaker. 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, plus Monday, December 17; 2 p.m. Sundays. $12-$24. 1420 S. Washington Ave., Minneapolis; 612-326-1811. Through December 22 —Sheila Regan

Dread the Halls: A Gathering of Holiday Horror
Off-Leash Art Box

Conceived as a multidisciplinary anthology of fright, Dread the Halls unites local artists intent on conjuring an array of nightmares. In addition to an unsettling dance/spoken-word piece co-developed by Joe Bozic and Erin Sheppard, audiences can anticipate an exploration of Aleister Crowley, a notoriously enigmatic figure, performed by Tim Uren of Ghoulish Delights. Another ominous highlight of the evening, developed under an air of mystery by Oncoming Productions and Rogue Gallery Arts, involves the sinister invocation of distressed holiday spirits. The Champagne Drops, the duo of Emily Dussault and Leslie Vincent, lend their gorgeous harmonies to spectral holiday tunes for the production. Dread the Halls is likely to leave audiences wondering whether it’s Santa Claus—or something far more sinister—crawling down the chimney Christmas night. Find tickets at 7:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday. $12. 4200 E. 54th St., Minneapolis. Through Sunday —Brad Richason

"Post-Patriarchal Feminism"

"Post-Patriarchal Feminism" L-R: Tara Zanzig, Carla Rodriguez with Lindsey Cherek, Sarah Reed McNamara


Le Cirque Rouge Cabaret & Burlesque’s Final Shows
Aster Cafe, Amsterdam Bar & Hall

Fifteen years ago, Le Cirque Rouge brought burlesque back to the Twin Cities after a 50-year hiatus of the old-school art. Over the years, the troupe has fostered many new artists, showcased Minnesota talents, and turned bars into baudy stages of expression. After a decade and a half, the group is hanging up its pasties. Some ladies and gents will be heading off to other groups, while others will reform next year as Catastrophe Cabaret. This December, they’ll give two final performances, both holiday-themed. There will be laughter, there will be tears, and there will probably be some butt cheeks. Come toast to the troupe with a pint or some bubbly. 7 p.m. Saturday, December 15, at Aster Cafe (125 SE Main St., Minneapolis; 612-379-3138) and Saturday, December 22, at Amsterdam Bar & Hall (6 W. Sixth St., St. Paul; 612-285-3112). $15; $50-$100 VIP at Amsterdam. Also December 22 —Jessica Armbruster

Post-Patriarchal Feminism: Visions of Optimism and Illusion
CO Exhibitions

Twelve badass feminists navigate a post-patriarchal future in this new show at CO Exhibitions, curated by Katie Skujina. The exhibit features artists working in a variety of mediums as they dream about what tomorrow might look like if sexism and misogyny were things of the past. Chicago-based print artists Liz Born and Tara Zanzig will be part of the show, as will Nicole Marroquin, an associate professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Northern California’s Nicomi Nix Turner will offer botanically influenced drawings. Plenty of local folks will be part of the show, too, including Jennifer Davis, Shelly Mosman, Meghan Lionel Murphy, and Maria Cristina Tavera. Come explore their versions of a feminist utopia. There will be an opening reception from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday, December 15, featuring music by DJs Babyghost and Rowsheen and refreshments from Modist Brewery. Free. 1101 Stinson Blvd. NE, Minneapolis; 612-379-4151. Through January 19 —Sheila Regan

Hamm's Beer

Hamm's Beer


Meet the Hamm’s Bear
Skinner’s Pub

Sixty-some years ago, the Hamm’s Bear peddled beer in an era when it was okay to use cartoons to sell adults-only items. Though the bear is now semi-retired, he still comes out for special occasions to bestow cheap beer, like a Santa for furries and drinkers. This Tuesday, some dude will put on the Hamm’s Bear costume and show up at Skinner’s. During the happy hour, folks will be invited to pose with him for pictures, score freebies, and toast the brew with canned Hamm’s that costs only a buck. 5 to 7 p.m. Free. 919 Randolph Ave., St. Paul; 651-228-1947. —Jessica Armbruster

Festivus Holiday Gathering
Town Hall Brewery

While there are many heartwarming, life-affirming holidays this season, perhaps none are as cathartic as Festivus, a totally made up non-denominational holiday that has become a real thing. Its origin dates back to the ’90s, with Frank Costanza hosting the event on a dark winter night on a very special episode of Seinfeld. Honor the holiday this Tuesday at Town Hall, where folks will gather ’round the traditional aluminum pole to vent. Air your grievances to the crowd for $1; money collected this evening will benefit Fairview Riverside Children’s Hospital. There will also be complimentary mulled wine and spiked hot cider, an outdoor bonfire, and a prize wheel. 5 to 10 p.m. Free. 1430 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-339-8696. —Jessica Armbruster

Les Miserables
Orpheum Theatre

Despite its massive scale, Les Mis is powered by an intimate understanding of human nature. It’s this humanity that brings to life to Victor Hugo’s novel, wherein an impoverished man named Jean Valjean, desperate to feed his sister’s starving child, steals a loaf of bread and spends the next 19 years in prison as a consequence. Forever marked as a felon, Valjean breaks his parole and goes on a lifelong search for redemption, a goal complicated by the tenacity of his pursuer, an obsessive police inspector named Javert. Though set in 19th-century France, the story remains distressingly resonant, particularly in a country grappling with the highest incarceration rate in the modern world. Delivered with soaring musical numbers (“I Dreamed a Dream,” “On My Own,” “One More Day”), this revitalized production of the Broadway masterwork represents a breathtaking example of how audacious stagings can actually serve to amplify empathy, bringing audiences to collectively cheer for the courage to be compassionate. 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, plus December 18; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Saturdays December 22-29; 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays December 23-30. $39-$199. 910 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-339-7007. Through December 30—Brad Richason