Not the biggest fan of FOX's MADtv? Join the club -- you know that sketch television is weathering a downturn when you'd rather watch JKX: The Jamie Kennedy Experiment than Saturday Night Live. But don't let less-than-funny TV color your decision to go see MAD cast member Aries Spears (pictured) perform standup comedy. He's at the West Port Funny Bone Comedy Club (614 West Port Plaza, I-270 and Page Avenue, Maryland Heights) Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 and 10:15 p.m., and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., 10 p.m. and midnight (March 24 through 26).
Instead, make up your mind to go see the comedian by taking a look at his onscreen oeuvre, which includes a mad-funny mini-turn as Cuba Gooding Jr.'s militant brother in Jerry Maguire. In the movie Spears just gave a few power salutes and hip-hopped along to Gooding's "Show me the money!" antics -- yet the comedian practically stole the show. Same goes for his appearance in the actually pretty funny 2001 comedy Josie and the Pussycats. Not only did he unleash a tide of knee-slapping impressions (Bill Cosby, Mike Tyson, Eddie Murphy) in just a few minutes of screen time, Spears even made scene partner Carson Daly look good by association.
Convinced yet? Good. Go stake your claim on some $10 to $20 tickets by calling the Funny Bone box office at 314-469-6692 or by visiting the club's Web site at www.funnybonestl.com. -- Rose Martelli
Gentle as a Bull
Ferdinand is sweet
The classic story of Ferdinand -- the sweet, sensitive (and possibly stoned) flower-sniffing bull who just doesn't wanna fight -- is brought to comical, musical life by the Imaginary Theatre Company at the Loretto-Hilton Center (130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves). ITC is the touring ensemble of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, and the company is gearing this crowd-pleaser toward children and the young at heart. There are two 45-minute, squirm-free (fingers crossed!) performances (at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.), after which you may choose to smell some flowers yourself -- or maybe read some Hemingway. Tickets for Ferdinand the Bull ($4 to $6) are available at the Rep box office or can be charged by calling 314-968-4925 or visiting www.repstl.org. -- Jedidiah Ayres
See SPOT Sing
The club and its cabaret
So you've seen a lot in these pages about different cabarets going on around town: This guy's singing here; that couple's performing there. You know you should go to a cabaret show (especially since you've never been), but all you can think is, "Why would I want to go and hear a man sing a song?" We feel you. But what about a drag queen singing some songs? Would that interest you a bit more? Thought so. Head to SPOT (4146 Manchester Avenue; 314-371-1330) for its SPOTlight Cabaret, a show that features Madison Elise impersonating and singing her heart out. Her free performance starts at 10 p.m. every Wednesday (including Wednesday, March 23) -- and includes a complimentary Champagne toast! What a way to celebrate your first cabaret! And if you still aren't convinced that cabaret is your thing, check www.spotbar.net for the club's other themed nights. -- Alison Sieloff
Up All Night
What do overnight security guards do to keep themselves awake on those graveyard shifts? Jeff, the protagonist in Kenneth Lonergan's Lobby Hero (played by Jim Butz, pictured), keeps things lively by reading self-help books and attempting to woo Dawn, a policewoman who makes regular visits to his building. There's also the little matter of a murder that Jeff seems to be wrapped up in. The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents Lobby Hero at the Emerson Studio in the Loretto-Hilton Center (130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves; 314-968-4925 or www.repstl.org for times) from Wednesday, March 23, through April 10. Tickets are $29 to $44. -- Paul Friswold