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Event picks for this holiday week in Cleveland

Thursday | 22

Laughing at the Improv

Last Call Cleveland

When it comes to Last Call Cleveland, somebody's gonna get hurt. Don't take our word for it: Ask Aaron McBride, who shares the stage with the comedy troupe's fellow members Mike Polk, Mark McKenzie, and Matt Zitelli. "We usually do at least one audience-participation sketch during our show. We don't ask people questions or make them talk, but we make sure they're completely humiliated in front of a room full of people. And believe me, no one is safe!" But don't run for cover. The sketch-comedy quartet brings plenty of other laughs to the stage — even beyond Polk's now-legendary "Hastily Made Cleveland Tourism Video." "What I love most about our live show is that there are a lot of different things to enjoy," McBride says. "We perform music, sketches, and we show some of our videos in between. There's a lot going on, and if you're bored, you'll be watching something completely different in the next couple minutes." You can catch them this weekend for three shows at the Improv. Tonight's curtain is at 7:30 p.m. Friday's shows are at 7:30 and 10:15 p.m. Tickets are $15 by phone or online. Check out the Last Call Cleveland website — — for a preview. — Logan Boggs

1148 Main Ave., 216-696-4677,

Sounds of Christmas

Holiday Sing-Along in Chagrin Falls

So what if you haven't exercised your pipes in a while? It's the most wonderful time of the year, right? And that deserves a little singing. Get your fa-la-las in gear tonight at the Wassail Christmas Concert in Chagrin Falls. Conductor Steve Eva will lead you and the 45-piece Studio Orchestra in a merry holiday sing-along of selections from film and stage. (Bring the Altoids.) Santa Claus will be stopping by. (Bring the gift list). And there will be a special video tribute to our troops, set to a custom arrangement of "I'll Be Home for Christmas." (Bring the hankies.) It all happens at the Chagrin Valley Little Theatre. Tonight's curtain is at 7 p.m., and tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for kids; tomorrow's encore has the same curtain time and price. Nab tix by phone or online. — Bentley Weisel

40 River St., Chagrin Falls,440-247-8955,

Burning River Brass

Free Concert in Tremont

Here's an early Christmas present from Arts Renaissance Tremont: a holiday concert by the most excellent Burning River Brass. Founded in Tremont in 1996, the Brass have gone on to drop five critically acclaimed CDs and perform for audiences around the world — most of whom had to ante up the big bucks to enjoy the show. But not you: Like all Arts Renaissance concerts, tonight's performance is free. Curtain is at 7 p.m. at the beautiful and acoustically fabulous Pilgrim Congregational Church. And don't hesitate to bring your wallet: Free-will offerings will be accepted. — Weisel

2592 West 14th St., 216-861-7388,

Friday | 23

Kid Stuff

Fun on the Farm

If it just isn't a holiday without a chance to pet a donkey, you'll want to take the kids to Spring Mist Farms for Candy Cane Christmas. This is the final night for the Medina County attraction, and you'll find plenty of family-friendly indoor activities. Among them: model trains chugging through miniature towns, a slew of themed Christmas trees, a last-minute visit from Santa, and a chance to get up close and personal with reindeer, donkeys, camels, and more. Tonight's hours are 6 to 9 p.m. Kids' admission is $4, oldsters get in for $3, and many of the games and activities carry a small additional charge. (And big spenders, note: You can nab a 30-minute sleigh ride for six for $50, weather permitting.) Find out more on the website. — Weisel

691 Pearl Rd., Brunswick Hills, 330-225-3565,

Holy Hell!

A Very Bad Santa at the Cedar-Lee

Clearly, the Dutch have a different opinion of Santa than we do. Rather than a jolly ol' fat dude with a bag of toys slung over his back, their St. Nick is a murderous medieval bishop wielding a scepter designed for slicing off heads. At least, that's how Santa is portrayed in Saint, a funny, gruesome, and delightfully inappropriate slasher flick from Dutch director Dick Mass. Released in 2010, it was box-office gold in the Netherlands. That earned it a berth at this spring's Tribeca Film Festival, and it now seems well on its way to becoming a cult classic, subtitles notwithstanding. You can check it out tonight at midnight at the Cedar Lee Theatre. Tickets are $5 online or at the box office. — Elaine T. Cicora

2163 Lee Rd., Cleveland Hts., 440-528-0355,

Saturday | 24

Last-Chance Shopping

Christmas Eve at the Beach

It's Christmas Eve: Just about time to get cracking on that Christmas list, eh? Lucky for you, the good folks behind Rocky River's Holiday at the Beach are standing by to help. Set up inside the Beachcliff Market Square, you'll find a bonanza of locally made goods: everything from hot sauce and gourmet cheeses to candles, lamps, and beach glass. Organizer "Cowboy George" Seres, owner of Blaze Gourmet, puts it this way: "Holiday shopping shouldn't be about waiting in line to buy a less-that-stellar product from an unenthusiastic cashier. Let's create an environment that includes passion, good vibes, and positive energy while bringing together local vendors and the community." If you're buyin' what Cowboy George is sellin', get there between 1 and 6 p.m. today. — Bon

19300 Detroit Rd., Rocky River, 216-536-8788,

Family Fun

December Days at the Zoo

You probably won't get a peek at Rudolph's red nose, but the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is home to many other winter-loving critters, including reindeer, wolves, tigers, and six different kinds of bears. And you can see them all as part of the zoo's special December Days celebration. Today's fun runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and includes crafts and cookie decorating in the Exhibit Hall, live music in the RainForest, and a chance to snag a photo with Santa or the missus in the Wolf Lodge. And if it snows? No problem: A heated tram will take you from one end of the place to the other. Today's specially discounted admission is $7 for adults and less for kids 11 and younger. You'll  find a complete list of activities on the website. — Bon

3900 Wildlife Way, 216-661-6500,

Sunday | 25

Family Fun

Holiday Greetings From the Maltz Museum

You don't have to be Jewish — or Christian, Buddhist, or Muslim, for that matter — to enjoy today's Family Fun Day at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage. "We always see a diverse crowd," says Adam Teresi, operations and media coordinator. "Christians come just wanting to get out of the house for the day." If you can relate, come on down. Tour the museum's exhibitions, including From Hardship to Hope: African American Art From the Karamu Workshop. Take part in a scavenger hunt and try your hand at the trivia game "Jewpardy." Or catch a showing of the short film Molly's Pilgrim, a 1986 Oscar winner about a young Russian Jewish immigrant who feels she doesn't belong in America. And don't forget the snacks: fortune cookies and kosher egg rolls. (You were expecting figgy pudding, maybe?) The fun continues from 1 to 4 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults and less for seniors, students, and members. Find details and directions on the website. — Phil Barnes

2929 Richmond Rd., Beachwood,216-593-0575,

Fit for Foodies

Dinner Is Served at Sans Souci

Forget about the Christmas ham: Sans Souci, in the downtown Renaissance Hotel, is laying out a holiday spread far beyond your wildest rum-soaked fantasies. What, exactly, does top toque Brett Montgomery have up the sleeve of his sparkling white chef's coat? Try a four-course prix fixe dinner that begins with a choice of crab cake, boneless beef short rib, or gnocchi with wild mushrooms and ricotta, and travels on through the realms of minestrone soup, baby greens salad, prime rib, seared duck breast, Atlantic salmon, or grilled rack of lamb. For dessert, consider the pumpkin cheesecake with ginger-snap crust, apple cobbler with vanilla ice cream, tipsy bread pudding with toasted marshmallow, or perhaps a trio of chocolate mousses. C'mon: You know you would never do that much cooking at home. Cost is $42 plus tax and tip; parking is free in the Renaissance garage. Dinner is served from noon to 5:30 p.m. So go ahead and toss the fruitcake in the trash, and make your reservations at the telephone number below. — Boggs

24 Public Square, 216-902-4095,

Over at the Beachland ...

It's the Matzoh Ball and Latke Party!

Time to put away your new toys and head over to the annual Matzoh Ball and Latke Party at the Beachland Ballroom. Hosted by Blue Lunch, Cleveland's eight-piece swing-band powerhouse, this year's Christmas-night ball (the fourth, if you're keeping score) is shaping up to be a harmonica blowout, as the band backs special guests Tom Moore, Little Frank and the Premiers, and Cleveland's own legendary bandleader and harmonica player Bill "Mr. Stress" Miller. Of course, a Matzoh Ball without latkes (those delicious potato pancakes that symbolize the season) is just another Christmas party. So snag your share hot off the tavern's griddle; afterward, take to the spacious dance floor and boogie away the calories. Doors open at 7, and the family-friendly fun begins at 8. Tickets are $12 in advance on the website or $15 at the door. And don't forget: Proceeds benefit the Cleveland chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. — Cicora

15711 Waterloo Rd., 216-383-1124,

Monday | 26

The Cavaliers Return!

It's Christmas in Loudville

After four months of watching millionaires squabble with billionaires like they're all on food stamps, we the general public finally get to enjoy watching NBA basketball again. The league gift-wrapped the season to start on Christmas Day, but for Cavs fans the fun begins today against the Toronto Raptors. After a season of insults, injuries, and a lot of losing, both the city and the team are more than ready to start fresh. Both of the Cavs' top draft picks, point guard Kyrie Irving and power forward Tristan Thompson, have inked their contracts and are ready to lace 'em up for the wine and gold. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.; get your tickets at the Quicken Loans Arena box office or at the website below. — Scott Smith

1 Center Court, 800-820-2287,

Kid Stuff

The Stars Shine on Sesame Street

Elmo and Big Bird have been teaching kids to read and write for decades. Now they're tackling astronomy — done up Sesame Street-style, of course. One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure is a new planetarium program for wee ones now showing at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. It takes the classic characters and their Chinese friend Hu Hu Zhu on a voyage to the moon, where they discover all the differences between the dusty satellite and their comfy home on earth. Between the interactive exercises in counting and drawing, the kids will still have plenty of time for watching the stars twinkle over Sesame Street. And if their sense of natural wonder is sharpened in the process, Elmo and Big Bird can mark it down as yet another success. Today's showings are at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the Nathan and Fannye Shafran Planetarium. Tickets are $4 per person in addition to regular museum admission. See the website for a complete schedule of other upcoming shows. — Bon

1 Wade Oval Dr., University Circle, 216-231-4600,

Tuesday | 27


The Globetrotters Are Back

You know their style: high-flying, net-blazing, and eternally silly. But this year, the Harlem Globetrotters are sporting a rookie lineup filled with firsts — giving you all the more reason to be at the Q today to see them. Paul "Tiny" Sturgess is the tallest basketball player in the world at 7 foot 8 (he dunks without jumping). And at just 5 foot 2, Jonte "Too Tall" Hall is the shortest Globetrotter ever. (Who names these guys anyway?) Fatima "TNT" Maddox rounds out the rookie class — the first Globetrotter girl since 1993. They'll be teaming up with other fan favorites to bring you two full games of ankle-breakin,' pump-fakin' entertainment. Cavs: Take notes. Tickets start at $19, and today's games begin at 2 and 7 p.m. — Barnes

1 Center Court, 888-894-9424,

Wednesday | 28

Fit for Foodies

Champagne Dinner at Bistro 185

Consider it training for New Year's Eve: Tonight's champagne dinner at Bistro 185 — Ruth and Marc Levine's beloved East Side boîte — features five French-flavored courses, each paired with a glass of bubbly. Among the night's enchantments: escargot en croute, duck confit, scallops Rockefeller, braised short rib, and for dessert: boule de neige with hazelnuts and raspberries. (Menu details are on the website.) Dinner is served promptly at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $75 per person (tax and tip not included), and prepaid reservations can be made by phone. Best of all: no funny hats or noisemakers are required. — Cicora

991 East 185th St., 216-481-9635,

Dave Coulier

Uncle Joey Hits Hilarities

Dave Coulier doesn't rely on "shits" for giggles: Vulgarity isn't his game. It's his impersonations that get the laughs. Besides playing Uncle Joey Gladstone in a houseful of Olsen twins, Coulier has been the voice of Scooby Doo, The Real Ghostbusters' Dr. Peter Venkman, Felix the Cat, and Baby Animal (the red furball from the Muppets). The Michigan native first found his niche by imitating his high-school principal over the PA system; he hasn't looked back since. "I moved to L.A. when I was 19," says Coulier. "I was doing braces jokes at the time." But you won't hear any of those tonight when he takes the stage. "I'm not sucking up when I say this: I love Hilarities. It's one of the best venues in the country." Coulier is in town for four performances tonight through Friday. Tonight's fun starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $23. Expect a full house. — Barnes

2035 East 4th St., 216-736-4242,

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