Aziz Ansari Brought a Relatable Force of Funny to Dallas Saturday Night

Categories: Comedy

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Sarah Wyatt

By Sarah Wyatt

Aziz Ansari is a man built for an arena act, a master of crowd control.

The night's opening act was a Michael Jackson impersonator with his own backing applause soundtrack. It seemed fitting with the ego and presence that Ansari puts out to the public as a celebrity. You can almost hear him joking about it with his friends, "MJ but with an applause track. Like a laugh track for musicians." But then he followed through with it because when you're a stand-up comedian capable of filling the American Airlines Center, why not?

So of course there was a Bad-era Michael Jackson impersonator opening for Aziz. And of course he was good. He came equipped with everything you would want -but didn't know you wanted - from a Michael Jackson impersonator before an Aziz Ansari show: flashing lights, smoke, good dancing on stage, bad dancing off.


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Anna Clyne's Rewind Topped an Asymmetrical Opening Weekend at The FWSO

Categories: Classical Notes

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Photo courtesy Javier Oddo

This last weekend marked the opening of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra's 2014-2015 classical season. Saturday evening kicked off with an honorary video commemorating musical director Miguel Harth-Bedoya's 15th season with the FWSO, followed by a short talk with new composer-in-residence Anna Clyne (on her composition Rewind) and the National Anthem. At this point, the audience had been seated quietly, with intermittent applause, for what felt like forty-five minutes. Clyne's Rewind opened the program, and it was just the sort of shake-up this audience member needed.

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100 Dallas Creatives: No. 57 Inquisitive Sculptor Val Curry

Categories: 100 Creatives

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"I don't know if I've made any significant contributions other than following the advice of an early mentor to 'keep making art'," says Val Curry, sculptor and installation artist about making art in Dallas.

But he's probably wrong about that. This guy is one of the most interesting people you will meet in Dallas. He just keeps making art that has people talking, whether it's the giant outdoor cat sanctuary he has built in his backyard, his window installation with Robert David Reedy at Urban Outfitters Mockingbird Station, or his recent show at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary that displayed his view of the Universe--and it's one that's full of spirals and waste--Curry has a unique take on the world, and it is through his art that he communicates it.


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The Subconscious Storyteller: Benjamin Terry at RE Gallery

Categories: Visual Art

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Ben Terry

By Justin Hunt

The storybook nostalgia of South Dallas' RE Gallery is the perfect milieu for the exhibition of Benjamin Terry's latest works, the unconscious mind. While Terry's previous ventures focused principally on large, technically adept, two-dimensional works, the current series is a breakthrough of shape and color in much smaller packages. Rather than exhibiting the dark recesses normally attributed to the subconscious ("Repressed memories" anyone?), Terry's works - on display at RE Gallery through October 12 - are light and free.


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Comedian Laurie Kilmartin On the Challenges, Lessons of Telling Jokes About Her Dead Dad

Categories: Comedy

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Most critics of comedians who love to take their audiences to dark places usually have a single criticism in mind when they prepare to launch their arsenal of self-righteous indignation.

"The dark, sad things you're trying to make people laugh about wouldn't seem so funny if they happened to you," a heckler might shout from the darkened recesses of a comedy club.

Comedian and Conan writer Laurie Kilmartin who is known for not steering clear of tough subjects in her comedy faced just such a moment when her father Ron was diagnosed with lung cancer and had to suffer through it until his final days earlier this year. She didn't just do what a good comic would do in the difficult, but inevitable situation. She did what any sane person would do.

She tried to keep her sense of humor and find ways to joke about it.

"Even during the sickness, I was making jokes about it," she says. "I was used to tackling it. It was a little tougher to turn it into the past tense but I've been a comic for 27 years. I'm really used to going at a subject and doing a take-down of it. That's the way my brain works. I organize my emotions and thoughts in joke form and talk to them on stage. It wasn't any more difficult to talk about than being a mother or anything like that."

She amassed a long list of jokes and updates on her Twitter account through her father and her family's painful ordeal. Kilmartin's tweets went viral and they attracted heartfelt messages of hope and peace for her father and her family from all around the world. She's turned those jokes and the experience into a very personal comedy show called 45 Jokes About My Dead Dad, which she'll perform at 8 and 10 p.m. this Saturday at the Dallas Comedy House.

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Panels Provide Prescriptions, But Ultimately Is the Artist Responsible for Personal Health?

Categories: Dallas Stories

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DMA
There were actually butts in the seats last night, which was exciting.

By Monica Hinman

Last night at the Dallas Museum of Art, KERA's Art and Seek kicked off their sixth season of State of the Arts, which brings together leaders in the local art world to engage in a dialogue about developments and trends in art and culture. Last night's panel included Fort Worth artist Devon Nowlin, Dallas painter Arthur Peña, and Dallas writer Darryl Ratcliff, moderated by KERA's Jeff Whittington. The artists on the panel were upbeat in their assessment of the opportunities they have found for producing art in the area, each sharing details of their studio and living arrangements and a few of their upcoming projects.


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Finding the Future in the Past for Bruce Wood Dance Project's Lovett + More

Categories: Dance

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Bruce Wood Dance

Many people wondered what would happen to the Bruce Wood Dance Project (BWDP) after the untimely passing of their artistic director and choreographer. Would the company fold once again? Or would they continue to pursue the mission set forth by their founder? It seems as if fate, this city, the dance community, and the desire to do what they love, has found the company choosing the latter, which you can see on stage in Lovett + More at Dallas City Performance Hall 8 p.m. Saturday or 2 p.m. Sunday.


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Dallas Native Comedian Chris Tellez Wants to Tell You a Story at Dallas Comedy House

Categories: Comedy

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One of the first shows that comedian Chris Tellez organized sounds like the nightmare scenario of any aspiring comic.

He started a regular monthly stand-up show called "Pillow Talk" at a dive bar in Oak Cliff that didn't have working air conditioning. The place was packed with sweaty people trying to drink away the heat of a drought-stricken Texas. Tellez was pounding back the drinks but he wasn't just battling the heat. He was also battling his own nerves.

"I was not as experienced as I am now," he said. "So I just was so nervous that I got really drunk before the show and I was really trashed and it was such a weird thing. Some guy was crowdsurfing during my comedy set. I don't think anyone else had someone crowdsurf during their jokes. It was really fun."

That was just under five years ago. These days, he works the crowds and the clubs of Austin's comedy community but he still comes back to his proving ground for shows like the one he's doing at 10:30 p.m. Friday at the Dallas Comedy House with Austin comedians Ryan Cownie and Mac Blake.

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100 Dallas Creatives: No. 58 Man of Mystery Edward Ruiz

Categories: 100 Creatives

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Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order. Know an artistic mind who deserves a little bit of blog love? Email lauren.smart@dallasobserver.com with the whos and whys.

Edward Ruiz. Confetti Eddie. The man with the giant dinosaur outside of his studio. You might know him by any of these names, but did you know that Dallas is Ruiz' hometown? Well, it's true. The Oak Cliff-born visual artist, now a fixture in Exposition Park, has cemented himself as a magical force to be reckoned with. Drawing on his art, design, and theatre background, Ruiz has learned to fuse the technical and the entertaining to perform his art and illusions. And he just wants to share it with all of us.


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Expo Park's Newest Gallery Opens with Dallas Artist Thor Johnson's State Fair Photos

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Midway Gallery

The idea of inviting strangers into their home is not new to Lily Taylor and Sean Miller. When the artistic couple lived in Denton, they participated in the (International) Home Theater Festival, a movement to take performance out of the theaters and use house venues. Recently, they became Dallas residents and the musician/video artist couple decided to open up their live/work studio to the public as Midway Gallery, a space dedicated to video art.

For years, artists have been trickling into Expo Park, filling it with oddities like Confetti Eddie's magic and burlesque show, Ochre House Theater's intimate theatrical productions, Central Trak's live/work gallery space, Beefhaus' progressive art space, and 500x Gallery - Texas' oldest artist-run space. More recently, Cohn Drennan Contemporary moved its gallery space to the shady block on Commerce St. It's this milieu that attracts artists like Taylor and Miller to live here in the first place and its proximity to Fair Park that inspired the gallery's name.

"We named it Midway referring to the populist form of exhibition and amusement first introduced in The World's Columbian Exhibition held in Chicago in 1983," Taylor explains. "And we're excited that the timing works out to present Dallas-based artist Thor Johnson's historical collection of State Fair photos as our first exhibition."


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