D.C.-born comedian Mike Diesel distinctly remembers the first time he ever told a joke onstage. You would too if Bill Cosby plucked you from the audience when you were 7 because your shoestrings didn't match. "My parents disappeared under their seats," laughs Diesel, who'll recount the incident during a five-show run at Bogey's this weekend. "He asked me if I knew any clean jokes, and I said yes. He asked me if I knew any dirty jokes, and I looked right at my dad and said yes. I got a huge laugh. My parents were shocked at the confidence I had onstage in front of 1,200 people."
Nearly 40 years later, Diesel juggles his time between the suburban Virginia comedy club he books and taking his stand-up routine on the road, where he cracks on former teachers, childhood neighbors and life after bachelorhood. "I'm pretty much updating my life being a married guy," says Diesel, who's just released a DVD, No Safe Word. "And I'm a fat guy. When it comes to crunches, the only kind I'm doing is Nestle." Showtimes are 8 tonight, and 8 and 10:30 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday at Bogey's Comedy Club (28060 Chardon Rd. in Willoughby Hills). Tickets: $8-$15. Call 440.944.9000 or visit bogeyscomedyclub.com. - P.F. Wilson
More than 3,000 canines from around the world test their obedience, agility and talents each day at this weekend's Crown Classic Dog Show, sponsored by four area Kennel Clubs. By the end of the four-day pooch parade, one well-trained Fido will win barking rights as the Best in Show.
The judging starts this morning when 17 breeds - from golden retrievers and miniature schnauzers to German shepherds and Welsh corgis - take the floor of the I-X Center, where the Shetland sheepdog will serve as the specialty pooch of the day. Tomorrow, the samoyed is honored as the featured breed of the day, while dalmatians, whippets and Siberian huskies try to win over the judges. The competition continues Saturday, when the English setter, rottweiler, bulldog and keeshond breeds share the spotlight. The show wraps up on Sunday with a tribute to the English cocker spaniel, before the votes are tallied and the top dogs in seven divisions primp and prance for the coveted first-place trophy. The competition runs from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. today through Sunday at the I-X Center (6200 Riverside Dr.). Admission: $4-$8. Call 216.265.7005 or visit crownclassicdogshows.org. - Charles Cassady Jr.
Cleveland b-boy Damon Rucker swears he can turn you into a credible hip-hop hoofer at his breakdancing workshop in Solon today. You don't even need a tube of Bengay to bust moves like the "Coffee Grinder" and the "Baby Freeze." "I can show you all sorts of tricks, from head spins to back flips," says the 23-year-old Rucker, who's danced for 11 years under the stage name Motion. "I want to bring it all to the students to show them that it's not that hard."
Rucker will divide the 90-minute class into four parts: footwork, power moves, rocking and freezes. "That's when a dancer strikes an exotic pose with the feet off the ground and the hands on the ground in a weird balancing position," he says. "It strikes your eye, like, 'Wow! I didn't know the human body could do that.'"
The routine must work. It helped Rucker and his dance troupe, Point Blank, score the top prize on BET's Spring Bling show in Palm Springs last April. "No longer is it a mystery," says Rucker. "Breakdancing strikes people as a bunch of cool tricks that they think they'll never be able to do. But I want to teach what it's really all about so you can stop being an amazed spectator and join the party." Class starts at 3 p.m. at the Solon Center for the Arts' workshop location at 33399 Aurora Rd. in the Solon Square Shopping Center. Fee: $15. Call 440.337.1400 or visit solonarts.org. - Cris Glaser
The teens of St. Ignatius High School's Circus Company will dazzle folks with their juggling antics at today's Memory Lane: Clowning Around spectacle. Part of the Western Reserve Historical Society's Big Top Boulevard exhibit of circus memorabilia, the daylong extravaganza also features a photorama of snapshots depicting a circus caravan wheeling into Cleveland in 1900. "It's pretty wild to look at," says Art Grady, the museum's public-programs manager. "There are big close-ups of bulls, camels, elephants, horses and zebras. There's even this interesting car covered with roses, and it looks like it's being pulled by doves." The exhibit, in the museum's Reinberger Gallery, is anchored by a landscape of miniature animals, trains and a midway designed by Massillon model-train builder Tom Persell. Patrons can also sign up today for beanbag-toss competitions to win model airplanes. "It's anything you can think of to do with the circus," says Grady. "It's perfect for the holiday season." Clown around from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Western Reserve Historical Society (10825 East Blvd.). Admission: $8.50 ($5 for kids). Call 216.721.5722 or visit wrhs.org. - Glaser
Couch potatoes, rejoice! Two years after the release of his Beyond the Pale CD, DVD and tour, New York comic Jim Gaffigan is about to give you a shout-out when his Sexy Tour rolls into PlayhouseSquare tonight. "When it comes to pale, middle-aged, out-of-shape guys that are balding, I've got the market cornered," says the 42-year-old Gaffigan. "I continue to deal with the hard-hitting issues of the day - like bowling and bacon. I would say the material is very much from the perspective of a guy who doesn't want to get off the couch, and would prefer to eat and do nothing."
In 1990, Gaffigan moved to the Big Apple from his native Indiana to work in advertising. But his itch to make audiences laugh launched him onto the comedy-club circuit, where fellow Hoosier David Letterman took notice in 2000 and booked him on his show. Since then, Gaffigan has snagged guest spots on Law & Order and That '70s Show. He now has a supporting role on TBS' My Boys. "I'm kinda overwhelmed as it is," he says. "I've got kids and I'm already kinda busy. It's gotta be something I really want to do. Otherwise, I'd rather sit on my couch." Gaffigan takes the stage at 7 and 10 p.m. at the Palace Theatre (1501 Euclid Ave.). Tickets: $42.50. Call 216.241.6000 or visit playhousesquare.com. - Wilson
With a jug of Gatorade in hand, Lake County sports guru Mickey Rzymek will host other triathlon fans at tonight's Ironman Kona Broadcast Party. The TV special (premiering on NBC) was shot in October, when more than 2,000 triathletes ran, swam and biked the 30th annual race in Hawaii. "Some years, the race has been kinda ho-hum," says Rzymek, who organizes the Greater Cleveland Triathlon in Mentor every year. "But I gotta tell ya that this was a pretty good one this year. The athletes are challenged with the heat and the wind. It's really bigger than the Olympics in the sport of triathlon."
This year's race included a U.S. Marine who competed in full combat gear to cross the finish line in 14 hours - after swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running 26.2 miles. Australia's Craig Alexander, who raced the course in 8 hours and 17 minutes, snagged first place, even though he was 11 minutes behind the leaders after two legs of the race. And Chrissie Wellington of Great Britain scored her second straight victory to triumph in the women's division in little more than nine hours. "Last year, she showed up and came from out of nowhere," says Rzymek. "She beat a lot of these world-class male athletes. Just goes to show that anyone can upset the apple cart in this race." The show starts at 2:30 p.m. at Euphoria Health & Fitness (20445 Emerald Pkwy.). Admission: free. Call 216.265.3689 or visit euphoriahealthandfitness.com. - Glaser
Pam Cohasset did a double-take a couple of Saturdays ago when she walked into Billy C's Pub for brunch and saw 15 people lining up for the club's 6 a.m. karaoke session. "I come in at 11, and everybody's loaded and singing," she laughs. "I'm looking around, like, 'What the hell happened here this morning?'"
With Ricky Rick at the karaoke controls, folks can show up bright and early every Saturday morning to belly up to the bar for a bottle of brew before choosing songs from a catalog of thousands of rock, pop and country faves. "The funny thing is that they actually sing," says Cohasset. "Everybody thinks it's a joke because the sign says it starts at 6 a.m. But I'm here to tell you that they're dead serious." Hear for yourself at 6 a.m. at Billy C's Pub (13525 Lakewood Heights Blvd.). Admission: free. Call 216.251.7060 for details. - Glaser
For 29 years, University of Akron music professor Tucker Jolly has wielded a baton at the Rubber City's annual TubaChristmas concert. It's his personal tribute to legendary tuba player William Bell, whom he met in New York a few years before the impresario died in 1971. "He was a warm person who loved the holidays, since he was born on Christmas day," says Jolly. "Because he was so respected in the community, his students wanted to pay tribute to him [and] his love for this time of year."
These days, hundreds of cities around the world stage their own tuba concerts in Bell's memory. You too can join the fun with your own tuba, euphonium, baritone or sousaphone - if you show up for a 1:30 p.m. rehearsal today, when Jolly will run through several simple holiday standards like "Jingle Bells" and "Silent Night." Once orchestra members - including Akron Beacon Journal writer David Giffels and burger-eating champ Dave "Coondog" O'Karma - have mastered the arrangements, they're ready for two performances later in the day. "People expect it to be loud but it's not," says Jolly. "The sound is deep, moving and warm. And if you hit a wrong note, don't worry about it. Someone's bound to play the right one." The concerts are at 4 and 6:30 p.m. at E.J. Thomas Hall (198 Hill St. in Akron). Admission: free. Call 330.972.6641 or visit uaevents.com. - Glaser