Tuesday through January 18 The Wilbur Theater 246 Tremont St., Boston $39-$59, 800-745-3000 www.ticketmaster.com
Comedian Jim Gaffigan made his name with jokes about food—usually the processed food we all pretend to be too good for but then go home and secretly chow down on. His ever-enlarging family has taken up more space in his act in recent years. On having four young children, he says, simply, “I haven’t slept in seven years.”
Saturdays through January 25 ImprovBoston 40 Prospect St., Cambridge $10-$12, 617-576-1253 www.improvboston.com
This show is a set of old and new history-themed comedy sketches, monologues and songs by playwright and filmmaker James C. Ferguson, a Rhode Island native and Emerson College grad now based in Los Angeles. Perhaps needless to say, great artistic liberty is taken with the facts here, but this is only to make the history presented more believable.
James Lentz, Kim Carlino and Helen Payne
Through February 2 Bromfield Gallery 450 Harrison Ave., Boston Free, 617-451-3605 www.bromfieldgallery.com
Bromfield Gallery presents the winners of its SOLO 2014 competition. Sculptor James Lentz contributes, in his words, “corporeal and overt sculptures of unreality,” such as an enormous zipper installed into the gallery wall; painter Kim Carlino give us beautifully colored, multitextured, ethereal, abstract images that might be ideas forming in the mind. Finally, painter Helen Payne contributes a work on bathroom tiles.
Through January 31 Chase Young Gallery 450 Harrison Ave., Boston Free, 617-859-7222 www.chaseyounggallery.com
Cynthia Packard’s beautiful paintings and drawings, mostly of faceless female nudes, hearken back to a time when it was permissible to just make images—they didn’t have to be “about” anything in particular, in that self-conscious postmodern sense. Even her artist statement avoids such musings, simply detailing her process and letting the striking pieces speak, however silently, for themselves.
We are Proud to Present a Presentation…
Friday through February 1 Paramount Center 559 Washington St., Boston $25-$49, 617-824-8400 www.artsemerson.org
The full title of this radical comedy is “We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as Southwest Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915.” It’s about a crew of idealistic but naive actors trying, and failing, to put together some dead serious, awareness-raising, social justice theater about a little-known genocide.
The Best of the Ottawa International Animation Film Festival
Thursday through January 19 Institute of Contemporary Art 100 Northern Ave., Boston $5-$10, 617-478-3103 www.icaboston.org
This screening brings together some of the most radical animation coming out of North America, Europe and Japan, saving you the trouble of traipsing up to Canada to see it. Computer animation may have taken over Hollywood, but the artists in this collection use every kind of medium, and with an independent vision the big boys simply can’t afford to indulge.
This documentary—directed, randomly enough, by Teller of the comedy magic duo Penn and Teller—follows an Texan inventor on a quest to answer a simple but intriguing question: how did 17th century Dutch master Johannes Vermeer paint so realistically, 150 years before the advent of photography? Simple enough, yes, but it’s a question that takes him eight years to answer.
Wednesday, 8 p.m. Johnny D’s 17 Holland St., Somerville $28, 21+, 617-876-4275 www.worldmusic.org
Fanfare Ciocarlia is a Romanian brass band performing stomping Balkan/Romani music. They make a big, boisterous sound full of that inimitable mix of bawdy joy and creeping mystery that comes from the minor-key modes of Eastern European music. Add to their heart their breathtaking virtuosity on these instruments, and you’ve got a very good show.
Golijov: La Pasión según San Marcos
Thursday through Saturday Symphony Hall 301 Mass. Ave., Boston $30-$104, 888-266-1200 www.bso.org
Robert Spano, director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, guest-conducts the Boston Symphony through a vision of the Passion of Christ by Jewish Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov, created as part of a tribute on the 250th anniversary of Bach’s death. Golijov’s work draws on a myriad of Latin American and Christian traditions to bring out the universal power of its narrative.
Saturday, 8 p.m. Jordan Hall 30 Gainsborough St., Boston $10-$40, 978-697-4674 www.afarcry.org
The self-directed orchestra A Far Cry team up with Urbanity Dance for this concert, featuring a set of new reworkings of Bach by composer Eric Nathan entitled “Dancing with Bach”, plus Stravinsky’s modernist ballet “Apollon Musagete”. Urbanity’s Betsi Graves provides original choreography for both works, making the program a fresh experience for both ears and eyes.
No Pants Subway Ride
Sunday, 1 p.m. Location TBA Boston Free www.facebook.com/BostonSOS
Yes, this is an event in which a bunch of saucy young people get on the subway with no pants and ride it for a bit. Why do they do this? Because it’s funny. And then they’ll have a pants-free after party at a local pub. Note: the most likely meetup location is South Station, but check the Facebook page above for confirmation.
This author, who told the intense story of his experience as a child solider in the Sierra Leone civil war in his 2007 memoir “A Long Way Gone”, has returned with a novel, “Radiance of Tomorrow”, telling of the war’s aftermath. Beah is remarkable not only for his courage in telling such dark, personal stories but his eloquence in doing so.
Lee Ranaldo and the Dust
Friday, 9 p.m. Brighton Music Hall 158 Brighton Ave., Allston $14, 18+, 800-745-3000 www.ticketmaster.com
Lee Ranaldo is the other guitarist in Sonic Youth, and in his side project, the Dust, he’s joined by Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley. While his songs in Sonic Youth often play up the band’s more avant-garde, noisy side, with the Dust he’s in fairly straightforward pop/rock mode, often recalling REM, albeit with Ranaldo’s signature, fractal-like guitar explorations thrown in.
Sunday, 8:30 p.m. T.T. the Bear’s Place 10 Brookline St., Boston $8, 18+, 617-492-2327 www.ttthebears.com
Local indie rock band Today Junior have a intelligent, guitar-based sound that should appeal to fans of the Smith Westerns. That said, they’re not quite as slick and sparkly as that Chicago band, and this is very much to their credit, with lead singer Harry O’Toole’s gravely yawp providing a crucially rough-edged counterpoint to the prettiness and precision of the guitar atmosphere.
Monday, 9 p.m. Great Scott 1222 Comm. Ave., Allston $10, 18+, 800-745-3000 www.ticketmaster.com
Led by the consummate musical craftsman Jordan Lee, local project Mutual Benefit has gotten some much deserved attention from Pitchfork and Stereogum recently, and it couldn’t have come at a better time, since his latest, “Love’s Crushing Diamond”, is Mutual Benefit’s best work to date. Its lush, bedroom-baroque arrangements and warm, vulnerable vibe fuse ambition and heart with a rare finesse.