The Weekender: Big laughs, little trinkets, and starry shows

Comedian Louis C.K. is at the Boch Center’s Wang Theatre on Friday.
Charles Sykes/Invision/AP
Comedian Louis C.K. is at the Boch Center’s Wang Theatre on Friday.

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I have so much I want to talk to you about, but here’s the thing: There’s no time. This weekend is simply too busy, way too much going on — from a big block of comedy to several hours worth of fantastic film and theater, and a sizable heap of HBO for dessert. You’re probably sick of hearing about Beyoncé anyway, so let’s just get on with it.

SEND IN THE CLOWNS: Next to maybe morphine, laughter is the best medicine, not to mention way safer to consume in outsize quantities, as this weekend has in store. On Friday (if you can score resale tickets) you can catch Louis C.K. at the Boch Center’s Wang Theatre. Last time, the Newton native covered the lighter side of abortion, suicide, and terrorism — so I’m not sure what to expect this time (though likely at least one Wang joke). Also on Friday is comedian, storyteller, and author of “Questions for Terrible People: 250 Questions You’ll Be Ashamed to Answer” (which I think my doctor had me fill out last time?), Wes Hazard. He’ll be at Pavement Coffeehouse for its monthly comedy night along with Dylan Krasinski, Michael Bain, Molly Dugan, Isaac Ruben, and Will Smalley. Find tickets here. There’s also the 12th annual College Comedy Festival and Beanpot tournament on Friday and Saturday, where local collegiate improv troupes will clash for gutbusty glory at ImprovBoston. Tickets and info here. And finally, if you’re less in the mood for “funny ha-ha” than “funny-whoa this is starting to get weird maybe should we go?” check out Nick Di Paolo at Laugh Boston Friday and Saturday. His appearance at TD Garden for Comics Come Home last November was . . . interesting (and stuck him in the unenviable role of joke-explainer). Comedy’s good medicine, but it can also be a “volatile and unpredictable brew.” So, yeah! Get tickets here.

DAD JOKES: If you’re not exhausted from laughing yet, how about a nearly three-hour German film about a strained father/daughter relationship? No, really — “Toni Erdmann” is the Cannes-tickling, Oscar-nominated comedy from director Maren Ade, opening Friday in Boston. In his 3½-star review, Ty Burr calls it “an epic shaggy dog story, a poker-faced business farce, and some kind of date movie for fathers and grown daughters who’ve already put each other through the wringer.” With that running time, pace yourself on that ridiculously big Pepsi if you want to catch all the jokes.


SLUG FEST: A brawl between Rhode Island native (and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” star) Charlie Day and Ice Cube doesn’t seem like it should last 91 seconds, let alone 91 minutes. And Tom Russo kind of agrees in his two-star review of the pair’s new film, “Fist Fight,” which finds them playing high-school teachers waiting for the final school bell to ring in a royal “intra-faculty beatdown.” (Along the way, we probably learn a thing or two about accountability and bullying.) Opens Friday.

Rick Astley.
Rick Astley.
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ROLLING BACK: It’s been 30 years since Rick Astley first assured the world he was “Never Gonna Give You Up.” But in 1993, as Christopher Muther points out in his profile of the British singer, “he hung up his blazer and mock turtleneck and called it a day. In the most sensible rock-star decision ever made, Astley retired at 27.” Since then he’s experienced a resurgence in pop culture via the Internet prank known as Rickrolling (I’ll explain shortly), as well as the release of a disturbingly acrobatic “sexercise” tape, which you can watch in full here. (Explained.) On Saturday night, he plays the hits (whither “Together Forever”?) and new selections from his (gasp!) new album, “50.” Get tickets here. (That link’s not a joke, I promise.) (This one, however.)

Tove Lo.

SWEDE MUSIC: Maybe swing back to the House of Blues on Sunday night to catch a set from fast-rising Swedish singer Tove Lo, whose hit from a few years ago “Habits” marked the start of an intriguing musical path, culminating most recently in the smart, sexual, and soulful “Lady Wood,” a 20-song double album in four chapters. Will she show parts of the short film “Fairy Dust”? Will she play “Lies in the Dark” from the “50 Shades Darker” soundtrack? Will she go back for more Chilean sea bass at Terramia?! One way to find out (that doesn’t include camping out at the restaurant). Find tickets here.

WILD GUESTS: Starting Saturday night and running through March 18, the American Repertory Theatre’s production of Tennessee Williams’s “The Night of the Iguana” fills a Mexican hotel with a star-studded cast led by James Earl Jones and featuring Amanda Plummer, Elizabeth Ashley, Dana Delany, Bill Heck, and Remo Airaldi. As Tennessee Williams plays go, “Iguana” is dark, poetic, complex, and frank — but as director Michael Wilson tells the Globe, “The humanity, the kindness, and the empathy, which is what’s so desperately needed at this time in our world, is so full and potent in this play.” Find tickets here.

SHINY HAPPY PEOPLE: If you’ve ever wondered just what the hell Bob and Carol (and whoever Susan is) are up to when they “head to the desert” at the end of every summer, you may gain some insight at the Fuller Craft Museum’s new exhibition “Playa Made: The Jewelry of Burning Man,” a collection of rings, pendants, coins, um . . . breastplates, and other unconditional blasts of creativity taking the earthly form of jewelry. If this is sounding too “Bob and Carol” for you, there’s also an exhibit of John Bisbee’s works, made entirely of nails. So metal. More info here.


MINIMAL EFFORT: In celebration of the 80th birthday of Philip Glass (“I’m pretending I’m 60,” the composer told the Globe), the Boston Modern Orchestra Project presents a program of “Glass Works,” including Glass’s Second Symphony and “Tirol Concerto” for piano and orchestra, as well as Benjamin Parks’s “The Dwarf Planets,” the winner of the BMOP-NEC Composition Competition. Just by going, you’ll be entered to win one of two autographed box sets of “The Symphonies” (pro tip: bring a friend to boost your odds). More information and tickets here.

HBO's “Big Little Lies” stars Shailene Woodley, Reese Witherspoon, and Nicole Kidman.
Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/courtesy of HBO
HBO's “Big Little Lies” stars Shailene Woodley, Reese Witherspoon, and Nicole Kidman.

OR STAY IN!: Seriously, I’m tired just typing that, and there’s plenty to do on the couch. Starting with the worthy new spinoff of “The Good Wife,” the Diane-centered “The Good Fight” — which, after Sunday night’s premiere at 8 p.m. on CBS will only be available through CBS All Access (which you should be prepared to explain to your parents). “On the spectrum of spinoffs,” says Matthew Gilbert, “it sits a little closer to the ‘Better Call Saul’ end than the ‘Chicago Med’ end, which is to say that it isn’t merely a half-hearted attempt to exploit a brand.” I would like to know where “Maude” falls on this spectrum.

Then at 9 p.m. on Sunday comes the Ferrero Rocher Diamond Gift Box-level treat that is David E. Kelley’s new miniseries for HBO, “Big Little Lies.” There’s a murder, there’s some sort of plot, there’s “satire of filthy rich helicopter parents and the tribulations they transfer onto their children.” There’s also freakin’ Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, and Shailene Woodley (and Alexander Skarsgard and Adam Scott).

You can then briefly move about the house before crashing for “Crashing,” the new Judd Apatow-produced show on HBO from Lexington native and comedian Pete Holmes (say hi to Sarah Silverman, T.J. Miller, and Artie Lange, who pop in as themselves). That’s Sunday at 10:30 p.m., also on HBO.

Is that enough? Please tell me that’s enough. Oh Weekender reader, you are insatiable!


OK, that’s quite enough of that. However you end up spending your weekend, make it one you’ll miss come Monday. See you next week!


Michael Andor Brodeur can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MBrodeur.