Hamburger Helper

This is no time for laughter

TUES 5/3

Fans of indie-comic creator Evan Dorkin may be familiar with a panel that Dork drew in the early '90s: The corpse of a lonely hipster swings from a noose in a dingy apartment while the TV in the foreground blares "Next on Comedy Central: Stand-up! Followed by more stand-up! And more stand-up!"

Stand-up comedy has that effect on most rational people. The thought of 30 minutes of wry observations about modern life's banalities or salty condemnations of the ongoing war of the sexes often leads to serious contemplation about buying a sturdy seven-foot length of hemp. Thankfully, Neil Hamburger (pictured) is here to cut you down before major brain damage occurs.

Despite being America's Funnyman, Hamburger is no household name. But it's not his fault; every time Hamburger seems on the verge of a big break, another comic steps in his limelight. Don't let the lack of name-recognition fool you. Hamburger is no one-note hack just killing time at the Chucklehut until the networks offer him a sitcom deal (although the prospect of weekly living-room visits from Hamburger is mind-numbingly delicious); he's worked harder at his craft than any living comic. More than 300 dates a year have honed Hamburger's act into a deadly weapon that slays crowds from Minneapolis to Malaysia. Sure, you may not laugh; Hamburger's intellectual humor and personal revelations aren't for everyone. Hamburger is about the truth: Life is painful and brutish and boring, and if you can laugh at that, then you'll laugh at Hamburger. It's guaranteed.

Hamburger lights up the Hi-Pointe (1001 McCausland Avenue; 314-781-4716) at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10. -- Paul Friswold

Hot Times in the City
Romance (or something) is in the air

Dear Mr. David Clayton,

We've never met, but you're going to win the Mr. Romance Cover Model Pageant, we can just feel it! It's impossible to think that any of the other sixteen bodybuilding contestants will have nearly as much sizzle with their steak! You, and you alone, are enough man for many, many book-reading women, and we'll gladly pay $5 to root for you and your bedroom eyes (even though we can only see one, we're sure the other is just as dreamy), from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 30, at the Millennium Hotel (200 South Fourth Street; 314-241-9500). We know you're only in town because of the Romantic Times BOOKclub Magazine's 22nd annual Booklovers Convention (from Wednesday through Sunday, April 27 through May 1; www.romantictimes.com), but when you're on the runway for the competition, we're going to pretend you're just here to see Ms. Day. Cool? -- Alison Sieloff

Feast for Ears
And bellies

MON 5/2

Ah, the St. Louis literary community: brilliant, supportive, adored. Though it's probably not the most well-funded group, we love it all the same. Lucky for us, the city's oldest lit mag, River Styx (www.riverstyx.org), has brought to its pages some of the best poets and fiction writers in the world, from Nobel Prize winners Derek Walcott and Wislawa Szymborska to former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove and Pulitzer Prize-winner Maxine Kumin.

River Styx also hosts a monthly reading series at Duff's Restaurant (392 North Euclid Avenue; 314-361-0522 or www.dineatduffs.com), which highlights a range of local and national writers. At the annual Literary Feast (at 6:30 p.m.), you can show your affection for the publication as it celebrates its 30th birthday. For $45 you get plentiful helpings of delicious Duff's fare, music by jazz pianist Ptah Williams, and readings by poet Diane Wakoski and African-American fiction writer David Haynes. Not a bad party for the independently published local gem -- and not a bad milestone, either. -- Jess Minnen

The Laugh's on You

Instead of merely laughing at the people hanging out on the Landing (even though you're one of them), as of this Thursday, April 28, you can laugh at improv comedians there. The free grand-opening celebrations for Laughs on the Landing Comedy Club and Bar (801 North Second Street) begin at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (April 28 through 30) and feature drink and appetizer specials (comedy shows cost $10). For more information call 314-241-5233. -- Alison Sieloff

 
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