Current events |

Current events

George Carlin performs "Still Bringin' It," a stand-up show of all-new material, at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. (Courtesy U.S. Comedy Arts Festival)

They don’t come any more iconic than George Carlin. The 69-year-old hosted the first episode of “Saturday Night Live,” got the lead-off slot in “The Aristocrats,” mentored Bill & Ted on their “Excellent Adventure,” and is known for his “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” even to audiences raised on cable, and thus never had a freaking clue there were words you couldn’t say on TV. (For all this, Carlin was ranked only No. 2 in Comedy Central’s list of the 100 greatest stand-ups, behind the late Richard Pryor. But Carlin is getting the last laughs.) Since his first appearance at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, a decade ago, Carlin has launched a career as a writer – his two comedy collections, “BrainDroppings” and “Napalm & Silly Putty,” have landed on best-seller lists – and has been through rehab. Carlin debuts all-new material in “Still Bringin’ It,” Wednesday, Feb. 28. The show kicks off the new Headliner series at the Wheeler Opera House; also performing in the series are Steven Wright (Thursday, March 1), and Katt Williams (“The Pimp Chronicles,” Saturday, March 3).

Frank Oz has a most diverse entertainment career. As an actor, the British-born Oz has occupied the gentler side of the fence, providing voices for such fuzzy characters as the “Muppets” Grover and Miss Piggy, and for the wise Yoda from the “Star Wars” series. As a director, he has veered toward darker fare, usually with a comic twist: “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.” His latest, “Death at a Funeral,” fits in the latter category; the film wraps together hallucinogenic drugs, inappropriate romance and the possible resurrection of a corpse as a dysfunctional British family gathers to mourn the passing of its patriarch. The film has its world premiere at the USCAF, with screenings Thursday and Friday, March 1-2.

Stephen Colbert has, indeed, exemplified what it means to be a person this past year. His April speech at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner was tagged a “cultural primary” in The New York Times. Merriam-Webster named “truthiness,” a word coined by Colbert in the premiere episode of his “Colbert Report,” as its Word of the Year. Time magazine named him one of its most influential persons of 2006; the New Yorker placed him in the top dozen most influential media personae. The USCAF outdoes the competition by naming Colbert the Person of the Year. Colbert’s personiness will be celebrated in a Friday, March 2, event.

The six-month-old, locally focused Laugh Your Aspen Off has much in common with the 13-year-old, nationally prominent U.S. Comedy Arts Festival: It’s tough for locals to get tickets to either. That problem causes occasional problems for the USCAF, but is a feather in the hat of Laugh Your Aspen Off and its founder Clifford Fewel. Fewel has staged his comedy cavalcade, featuring 10 local comics, a handful of times, in increasingly larger venues. Earlier this month, Laugh Your Aspen Off drew its usual sold-out crowd to the Wheeler Opera House – and had to turn away dozens more. Also, like the USCAF, the Laugh Your Aspen Off team tells lots of jokes about Aspen, only they don’t limit their observations to the lack of oxygen and abundance of white people. The locals return to the Eagles Club for shows Thursday through Saturday, March 1-3.

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