Whatever Happened to Baby Jesus?
The irreverence and camp of the Gold Dust Orphans is pretty much summed up by the title of their newest Christmas show, which adds to the famously messed up 1962 tragedy “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” the one thing it’s always needed: Christmas cheer! If you like Joan Crawford and/or Bette Davis, aren’t puritanical and don’t care for good taste, check it out.
Through Dec. 23, Machine Nightclub, 1254 Boylston St., Boston, $40-$100, whateverbabyjesus.brownpapertickets.com
Myq Kaplan, a 2010 finalist on “Last Comic Standing," has tucked two albums, a Netflix special and an ongoing podcast, “Hang Out with Me," under his belt since. His clever, deadpan stream-of-consciousness occasionally drifts into surreal territory, like his extended impersonation of a singing Catholic priest at Mass, asking himself why he’s singing only two notes for so long.
Dec. 22, 7:30 p.m., Great Scott, 1222 Comm. Ave., Allston, $7-$10, 18+, boweryboston.com
Salty > Sour Seas
Kids on winter break and their parents alike can make their own art this weekend and next weekend at the ICA’s Art Lab. This season, it’s designed by artist Evelyn Rydz to reflect on the various junk we toss in the ocean, how it effects the ocean, and how the ocean effects it and includes a vision of Boston Harbor’s future.
Through Dec. 31, Institute of Contemporary Art, 25 Harbor Shore Dr., Boston, $10-$15, icaboston.org
Matisyahu, birth name Matthew Miller, started his career as a collegiate hippie turned Hasidic Jew, singing spiritual reggae in the traditional Hasidic garb, but in the years since, he’s dialed back his zealotry, shaving his beard and donning everyday clothes. His music has relaxed too, and expanded, as evidenced by the range of moods and styles on his latest, “Undercurrent."
Dec. 21- 22, Paradise Rock Club, 967 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, $29, 18+, crossroadspresents.com
Local folk/pop duo Tall Heights expanded their sound grandly on their 2016 album, “Neptune," but it remains rooted in the basics of one cello, one guitar, two voices and panoramic, soul-bearing songwriting. Their most recent single, “Horse to Water," seeks the hope on the other side of angst, with a video much weirder than it has to be—but totally perfect for it.
Dec. 21, 8:30 p.m., The Sinclair, 52 Church St., Cambridge, $20, 18+, boweryboston.com
Compaq Big Band
With the exception of a few pop hits like George Michael’s “Last Christmas” and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You," most of the most beloved Christmas music seems to date back to the jazz age. Tonight, the Compaq Big Band, a 20-piece ensemble, will prove it, performing arrangements from classics like Count Basie as well as contemporaries like Gordon Goodwin.
Dec. 21, 8:30 p.m., Ryles Jazz Club, 212 Hampshire St., Cambridge, $15, rylesjazz.com
"The Hip Hop Nutcracker"
This show is exactly what it sounds like: Tchaikovsky’s immortal Christmas ballet reborn in the image of hip-hop. One of the genre’s earliest stars, Kurtis Blow, introduces the performance, which transposes the story to 1980’s Brooklyn. Its 12 dazzling dancers display the adaptability of hip-hop styles even to stodgy old classical music, and it makes for an amusing and sorta mind-blowing combo.
Dec. 21-23, Shubert Theatre, 265 Tremont St., Boston, $35-$95, bochcenter.org
"Disney on Ice: Dream Big"
“Disney on Ice” returns to Boston with “Dream Big," a show focusing on the princesses of the films, always a popular draw—now, we’ve been asking for an evening-length Timon and Pumbaa duet, but Disney never returns our emails. Fair enough—you and your kids will still enjoy the world-class skating spectacle that’s entertained Disney fans for over 35 years.
Dec. 22-Jan. 1, Agganis Arena, 925 Comm. Ave., Boston, $10-$100, disneyonice.com
Ugly Sweater Party at Royale
Ugly Sweater Parties have become almost as common as ugly sweaters themselves around the holidays, but this must be one of the bigger ones. It benefits Toys for Tots—they’ll waive your cover if you bring a toy. Our guess is you’ll want to lose the sweater when you get on the dance floor for sets from DJ Bobok, the Prince and K Prizzy.
Dec. 22, 10 p.m., Royale, 279 Tremont St., Boston, $15, 21+, royalefridays.com
This cheekily-named party for Jewish singles has been a Christmas Eve staple in Boston since the '80s, taking advantage of the fact that for non-Christians, this night is just another night to stay out late. Since its inception, MatzoBall has spread to other cities, and has reportedly actually brought some lifelong couples together. How’s that for a Christmas miracle?
Dec. 24, 9 p.m., Royale, 279 Tremont St, Boston, $20-$75, 21+, matzoball.ticketspice.com
It’s easy to forget that this classic '80s comedy, centered on the surprisingly good matchup of Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd as a poor black man and rich white man who temporarily switch lives, takes place around the holidays. In our era of highly visible social disparities and considerable resentment of Wall Street, the film’s almost more relevant than when it was released.
Dec. 22-23, 10 p.m., Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle St., Cambridge, $9-$11, brattlefilm.org
Festivus for the Rest of Us
Not everyone loved “Seinfeld," but its influence on popular language and culture was greater than most sitcoms. For example, people are still hosting events based on Frank Costanza’s wacko holiday, Festivus. Dorchester Brewing’s will have the steel pole, and also the “Airing of Grievances”—you can shout yours from the roof of the building, for all of the city to hear. Sounds satisfying!
Dec. 23, 11:30 a.m.-11:00 p.m., Dorchester Brewing, 1250 Mass. Ave., Dorchester, free, 21+, dorchesterbewing.com