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Jokes on Us 

Cleveland bears the brunt of the Public Squares' humor.

The Public Squares find the funny in Cleveland.
  • The Public Squares find the funny in Cleveland.
MON 10/13

A few months back, when city officials proposed requiring downtown visitors to feed parking meters at night, the Public Squares knew they had a comedy skit in the making. The controversy died, but the comedy didn't: "Three Stooges/Jane Campbell" is one of 18 sketches the troupe will unveil during its inaugural 90-minute show, We Apologize in Advance . . . The slapstick satire centers around the bumbling of the mayor and her assistants. "And it's all wrapped up in a tasty Stooge-alicious burrito," proclaims Chris McVetta, the show's senior writer. In another skit, a gang of high school sleuths cracks open the mystery of why a prime piece of Cleveland real estate remains abandoned -- a knock on the Aviation High School grounds. "Like Indiana Jones, we're making this up as we go along," McVetta says.

McVetta and cast met at a Second City Cleveland comedy-writing class last summer and put together a program that doubled as their graduation project. After viewing the performance, instructor Nathan Cockerill decided to take the show pro. The Public Squares perform at 8 p.m. Monday at Second City Cleveland's Mainstage Theater, 2037 East 14th Street. Tickets are $4 and $5; call 216-685-0100. -- Cris Glaser

Message in the Music
Michael Franti brings the noise and news.

THU 10/9

Back in 1992, Michael Franti, under the name Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, made one of the most politically charged hip-hop albums of the decade -- Hypocrisy Is the Greatest Luxury. Since then, he's changed his moniker, but not his agenda. The new album by his band Spearhead, Everyone Deserves Music, is an explosive mix of rock, reggae, funk, hip-hop, and world beats. Franti's sly enough to follow the peace anthem "Bomb the World" with the dub-heavy "Pray for Grace" and the plaintive "Love, Why Did You Go Away?" In concert, he brings out a little bit of all his past lives -- including the black '80s industrialists Beatnigs -- which makes his shows both a career-spanning music lesson and a forum for his agitprop. Franti and Spearhead play the Odeon (1295 Old River Road) at 8 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are $16. Call 216-241-5555 for more information. -- Michael Gallucci

The Funniest Man Alive
Chris Rock takes the mic at the Palace.

WED 10/15

Chris Rock is the funniest, most consistent comic working today, cinematic stinkers like Bad Company and Down to Earth be damned. At his finest -- Saturday Night Live's Nat X, the Bring the Pain stand-up special, HBO's The Chris Rock Show -- he hits political and personal issues at a laugh-per-minute ratio that rivals Richard Pryor's best days. And like Pryor's, Rock's observations on race dig beneath the superficiality that plagues most comedians. Rock's best onstage; find out for yourself at the Palace Theatre (1519 Euclid Avenue) at 8 p.m. Wednesday. Tickets range from $39.50 to $59.50; call 216-241-6000. -- Michael Gallucci

Neanderthal Man

FRI 10/10

Rob Becker's Defending the Caveman is one of those men-and-women-sure-are-different one-man shows. What makes this one special , however, is that it actually holds the title of the longest-running solo play in Broadway history. Kevin Burke (a graduate of Ringling Bros.' Clown College) steps into the center role when Caveman comes to the Palace Theatre (1519 Euclid Avenue) at 8 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $35 and $40, available by calling 216-241-6000. -- Michael Gallucci

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