- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 4, 2011

Stand-up comedy John Mulaney

In a “Saturday Night Live” sketch about hangover cures, John Mulaney plays a patient searching for the trick to partying without pain. “What are some hangover cures?” he asks his doctors. “There are no hangover cures,” his doctor says. “OK, so let’s run down the list,” Mr. Mulaney replies. Dry stuff, perhaps, but it seems to be helping at “SNL,” where Mr. Mulaney is an up-and-coming writer. Through Sunday at the DC Improv, 1140 Connecticut Ave. NW. Phone: 202/296-7008. Web: www.dcimprov.com.

Movie ‘Miller’s Crossing’

“Miller’s Crossing” is the only gangster film from Coen brothers Joel and Ethan. In the timeline of American gangster movies, it arrived long after the “Godfather” franchise had set the standard for crime family epics and “Scarface” had moved the ball into the territory of blood-sucking sociopaths. But the movie accomplished what its predecessors could not: It will make you laugh. That’s not to say “Miller’s Crossing” is a caper or campy. The film chronicles a 1930s Irish family’s efforts to maintain power in the face of a new group of Italian movers and shakers. Caught between the two, foiling their follies, is the hard-hearted, egoless Tom Reagan (Gabriel Byrne). Reagan couldn’t care less who runs the town, or who signs his checks. His chief concern - every smart mobster’s chief concern, really - is avoiding unnecessary complications. While his boss and a rival go to war, Reagan works quietly to snuff out the lit match that started the whole fire. Saturday at AFI Silver, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. Phone: 301/495-6720. Web: www.afi.com/silver.

Concert Alison Krauss & Union Station

Alison Krauss holds the honor of having sung both the most beautiful song in the world, and the saddest. For “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” Miss Krauss sang the gospel call to prayer, “Down to the River to Pray.” You don’t have to appreciate the message to fall head over heels for the meter and melody of Miss Krauss’ hymn, which adds more singers with every chorus. In 2005, Brad Paisley won song of the year from the Country Music Association for “Whiskey Lullaby,” a tragic ode to a pair of lovers who drink themselves to death, each missing the other. The song is one of three Paisley hits to go platinum, and it likely would not have done so had it not been a duet with Miss Krauss. With Union Station, Miss Krauss plays a more pure form of bluegrass, full of joy, banjo rolls and her quivering voice. Sunday at Wolf Trap, 1645 Trap Road, Vienna. Phone: 703/255-1900. Web: www.wolftrap.org.


‘Daredevils and Yellow-Bellies’

The idea behind SpeakEasyDC is that everyone has a story to tell, but some folks need a little encouragement. Under the leadership of Director Amy Saidman, SpeakEasyDC has turned into a place where the social worker who lives down the hall from you learned to hold an entire audience captive with a story about a hilariously haphazard Valentine’s date, but also where some of the District’s best comedic performers have honed their craft. This week’s show is “Daredevils & Yellow-Bellies: Stories about Courage and Cowardice.” Tuesday at Town Danceboutique, 2009 Eighth St. NW. Phone: 240/888-9751. Web: www.speakeasydc.com.

Book reading ‘Beijing Welcomes You’

A simple song with big implications kicked off the 2008 Summer Olympics. “Beijing Welcomes You” represented not just China’s newfound willingness to throw open its doors to foreigners (though not foreign critics), but it also reflected the momentous efforts the country made to clean its streets, its air and its citizens in preparation for a Western influx the likes of which it hadn’t seen in decades. That’s also the name of the new book by longtime media critic Tom Scocca, who spent several years in China documenting the country’s existential transformation from a cloister to a burlesque revue. Mr. Scocca will discuss his book, answer questions and sign copies. His reading could very well be titled “Tom Scocca Welcomes You.” Wednesday at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Phone: 202/364-1919. Web: www.politics-prose.com.

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