One week until Christmas. You've already spent thousands of dollars on gifts (none of which is for you) and you're not quite done shopping for others yet. You could use some major laughs. Lucky for you that comedian Richard Jeni is beginning a four-night stint at the Miami Improv (3390 Mary St., Coconut Grove). Many know him for the hilarious shtick he delivers on TV talk shows of all stripes and HBO specials. Others may remember him fondly (or not) as the star of the wretched and unfortunately named mid-Nineties TV sitcom Platypus Man, which enjoyed a big six-month run on UPN. Seinfeld it was not. Tickets cost $20 and $22. Call 305-441-8200 for show times and reservations.
Sure it's the holidays. Time to be all spiritual and go to church and such places. But forget the sermons this time around. Tonight at 8:00 the sounds of songs by renowned musicians/composers like Chucho Valdes and Michel Camilo will be reverberating through the Coral Gables Congregational Church (3010 De Soto Blvd.) when Darwin Noguera and the Miami Latin Jazz Allstars take the stage. We know Noguera is a pianist from Chicago. He'll be leading a band of twelve musicians featuring saxophonist Juan Turros, drummer Emilio Valdez, and ten other cats whose names won't fit here. Tickets cost $14. Call 786-390-6979.
If the holidays make you want to dance and you're not too picky about grooving to bands featuring original members, you should consider getting over to the Holiday Hop, taking place at 8:00 p.m. at the Joseph Caleb Auditorium (5400 NW 22nd Ave.). Scheduled to play are greats from the Fifties and Sixties including the Marvelettes, the Platters, Elsbeary Hobb's Drifters (once simply known as the Drifters), and Cornell Gunter's Coasters (once just known as the Coasters). Whether you're listening to a reasonable facsimile or to authentic bands, the great songs you'll hear are bound to get you moving. Tickets cost $25. Call 305-636-2350.
Scrooge. Everybody knows one or perhaps a dozen. Okay, you know so many Scrooge types that there aren't enough ghosts to go around and scare the bejeezus out of them. Well, maybe you can get a nice group rate on tickets, rent several buses, and send them all to see this musical production of A Christmas Carol, adapted by Nina and Earl Maulding and presented by Florida's Performance Project, Inc. Consider it your Christmas present to your stingy bastard friends. Ending a multiday run at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale), the show plays twice more at 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. Tickets cost $15. Call 954-462-0222.
As heartwarming films like Bad Santa show, there is a dark side to the world of department store Santas and their elves. NPR humorist and author David Sedaris knows that realm well. Before he became a big-deal funnyman, he did time as an elf at Macy's during the holidays. Smarter than your average elf, Sedaris channeled those experiences into his satirical writing, penning The Santaland Diaries, a postmodern Christmas classic that started out as a short story and graduated into a work for the stage. Nonprofit theater group Fresco Productions has been presenting the show, starring John Bixler, at the University of Miami's Jerry Herman Ring Theatre (1312 Miller Dr., Coral Gables) for the last couple of weeks. See it tonight or tomorrow at 8:00 or wait until after Christmas and catch the end of its run from Friday, December 26, to Sunday, December 28, at 11:00 each night. Tickets cost $10. Call 305-225-0015.
Okay, there's two more days left to help the community while making yourself look beautiful. If you decide to cut that disheveled mop you call hair, and do it at Van Michael Miami Salon (1667 Michigan Ave., Miami Beach), you'll get a five-dollar price break on hair services if you bring them a donation of nonperishable food. Not to worry, the crew at Van Michael won't be snacking on your canned garbanzo beans; they'll send the stuff over to the folks at Daily Bread Food Bank, who will then send it to one of 800 local nonprofit organizations that help the hungry. Call 305-534-6789 to schedule an appointment. Hurry!
It's Christmas Eve. Later tonight you'll probably be stuffing your face with ham or turkey, quaffing enormous amounts of eggnog, drunkenly singing carols, and maybe even opening a present or twelve. If you're Jewish or Muslim, you probably won't, so don't feel bad. Only feel guilty if you're a greedy hog who doesn't care about his fellow man. If we've succeeded in making you feel like Christmas crap, or if you won't be doing the aforementioned and have nowhere to go tonight, get over to the Supper of Kings Feast and Celebration at Liberty City's Ziongate Community and Development Center (5211 NW Seventeenth Ave.). You can make a donation of food, clothes, or toys from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., or from 6:30 p.m. you can enjoy goodies from a 50-foot-long table, listen to live music, and delight in special appearances by local celebrities. Admission is free. Call 305-693-5699 and have a happy holiday.