Here’s what to do in Boston this weekend

COMEDY

Jim Gaffigan

PAR_Jim Gaffigan_0514 Credit Nigel Parry

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.”

History 101

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.

ART

James Lentz, Kim Carlino and Helen Payne

JamesL_Zipper.JPG

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.

Cynthia Packard

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.

THEATER

We are Proud to Present a Presentation…

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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.

MOVIES

The Best of the Ottawa International Animation Film Festival

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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.

Tim’s Vermeer

Sunday, 10 a.m.
Coolidge Corner Theater
290 Harvard St., Brookline
$10-$20, 617-734-2500
www.coolidge.org

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.

MUSIC

Fanfare Ciocarlia

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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.

Chemistry

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.

GOING OUT

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.

BOOKS

Ismael Beah

Thursday, 6 p.m.
Brattle Theatre
40 Brattle St., Cambridge
$5, 617-661-1515
www.harvard.com

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.

ROCK SHOWS

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.

Today Junior

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.

Mutual Benefit

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.



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