arts 02.18.03


We've been noticing lately how cyanide and ricin threats are not good fodder for laughs. Do you remember how the calamity du jour used to inspire a raft of black-humored jokes, emanating from fearless Wall Streeters, that worked their way uptown by phone and email? These days, with our definition of calamity so altered, there's just too much, as Mel Brooks would say, 'xiety.' Still some necessary laughs and where to find them.

On Stage
The sublimely angry Lewis Black does his clench-jawed, bug-eyed, imminently postal act on March 27th at Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium, 903.9600, along with Denis Leary, Janeane Garofalo, Joy Behar, Caroline Rhea, Mario Cantone (and some surprise guests), in honor of the 20th anniversary of Caroline's Comedy Club…Gentler humor, though no less sublime, can be found in Shanghai Moon, a romp in which Charles Busch appears as Lady Sylvia Allington, a sinophilic diplomat's wife. Through March 9th at the Greenwich House Theater, 27 Barrow [7th Av. S.] 633.9632…Tammy Faye Starlite, Tammy Lang's devout country singer character, performs tunes like "God Has Lodged a Tenant in My Uterus" at Ars Nova, 511 W. 54th [9th/10th] 489.9800, March 4th…The 20th anniversary production of Forbidden Broadway includes its usual wicked parodies, this time of The Producers, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Mamma Mia. At the Douglas Fairbanks, 432 W. 42nd [9th/10th] 239.6200…Some of the best sketch comedy in town is courtesy of Living Room Live. The group is performing February 21st and 28th at Above Kleptomania, 671 Eighth [42nd/43rd]. Reserve tickets by emailing here…Sunday nights at Piano's, 158 Ludlow [Stanton/Rivington] 505.3733, are called Tinkle, where you'll find prime downtown comedy.

On The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Mon.-Thurs., 11pm on Comedy Central, Stewart often seems like the sanest man on television. Also possibly the funniest. His group of 'reporters' are all first-rate…Which is more than we can say of CNN at the moment. What on earth is going on at the network? Aaron Brown, Connie Chung, Arthel Neville? Not exactly a brain trust, you have to admit. Laughs aplenty, however unintentional…If you want a more incisive interviewer than Connie Chung, check out Da Ali G Show, starting this Friday at 12:30am on HBO. This 'hip-hop journalist', a character created by British comic Sacha Baron Cohen, is as funny as he is un-PC…More news you can use at The Onion, which has been on a roll lately with its distinctive brand of satire. One recent headline: N. Korea Wondering What It Has To Do To Attract U.S. Military Attention.

Books, Videos and CDs
David Sedaris fans (and who's not?) will want his boxed set of 14 CDs in which the author reads most of his painfully funny stories. Not recommended while driving…The other David, David Rakoff, has a CD of his book Fraud ("I do not go outdoors. Not more than I have to. As far as I'm concerned, the whole point of living in New York City is indoors. You want greenery? Order the spinach.")…Kiki and Herb aren't performing in the city at the moment but you can get a jolt of Kiki, that megalo-, dipso-, general maniac, on their CD " You Hear What I Hear?"…The American Film Institute's list of the top 10 funniest movies of all time:

1. Some Like It Hot (1959)
2. Tootsie (1982)
3. Dr. Strangelove (1964)
4. Annie Hall (1977)
5. Duck Soup (1933)
6. Blazing Saddles (1974)
7. M*A*S*H (1970)
8. It Happened One Night (1934)
9. The Graduate (1967)
10. Airplane! (1980)
As several readers pointed out to us, we should have mentioned in Friday's article on Bally Total Fitness that the company bought the chain of Crunch gyms in 2000. Complaints about Crunch, particularly about credit and billing issues, are up. You do the math.

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