Reggie Watts

High Wattage

Hip Hop Live + Reel rolls into the Museum of Contemporary Art (220 E. Chicago Ave.; 312-397-4010) Friday the 25th with a full weekend lineup of performance and films. Friday highlights include Reggie Watts, whose show-stopping mash-up of political satire, improv, dance, and beatboxing has earned him comedy’s Andy Kaufman Award. Also on the bill: Local theatre company Teatro Luna reprises Machos, featuring an all-female cast in drag; plus, local beatboxer Yuri Lane and screenings including Dave Chappelle’s Block Party. Friday and Saturday performances are $20; Sunday film passes are $5. See for more info.

Charles in Charge
Charles Simic, the U.S. poet laureate and former Oak Parker, returns to town this week for a free lecture Saturday the 26th at noon in the Harold Washington Library Center’s Pritzker Auditorium (400 S. State St.; 312-787-7070). We caught up with the Pulitzer winner to talk Chicago.

After immigrating from Belgrade in the 1950s, you lived in Oak Park and Chicago. What is your strongest memory from that time?
The great contrast between the lakefront—Michigan Avenue lined with beautiful hotels and stores—and, a few blocks away, Clark Street lined up with honky-tonks. This was 1955, and the rest of Chicago was really a working factory town, three shifts. The el was full of people going to work or coming back from work, all looking really tired. On the one hand, [it was] like you’re in Rio or something. And then, my God, the rest of it. There was great poverty, immense poverty.

Did you move back and forth between those two sides?
I did, inevitably. After I graduated from high school, I got a job in Chicago … and lived in the Near North Side. I went to the lake to swim, and then I went away from the lake to drink. –ROBERT P. BAIRD

More Best Bets for Things to Do This Week:

PJ Paparelli, the new artistic director of the American Theater Company, and Stephen Karam turned heads last year with Columbinus; now the pair has reteamed for Speech and Debate, about three misfit high school students who uncover the debate coach’s dirty secrets online. The show previews through Sunday the 27th and opens Monday the 28th at ATC (1909 W. Byron St.; 773-929-1031). Tickets are $20 to $35.

Stay Up
Finally, a 2 a.m. alternative that’s cheaper and healthier than the hitting the bar (no, it’s not sleeping): The Hyde Park Art Center (5020 S. Cornell Ave.; 773-324-5520) hosts Creative Move 3: Moving Mountains from 8 p.m. Friday the 25th through 8 p.m. Saturday the 26th. The free 24-hour festival includes midnight photo printing, mountain-themed movies, near-nonstop DJs, and vogueing by Darrell Jones. Admission is free; visit for a full schedule.

Dirty politics in Chicago? Color us shocked. Playwright Brett Neveu’s Old Town sends up Cook County’s political machine with a ten-piece band as live accompaniment. The show previews Friday the 25th and opens Sunday the 27th at Strawdog Theater (3829 N Broadway; 773-528-9696). Tickets run $10 to $20.

It’s almost as overwhelming as it sounds: The mammoth five-legged art behemoth Artropolis takes over the Merchandise Mart (222 Merchandise Mart Plaza) Friday the 25th through Monday the 28th. Need a hint on where to get started? Head to the contemporary-art fair Next and check out Busted! from the Miami gallery Carl Jazzar. The exhibition features celebrity mug shots (think Paris Hilton and Mel Gibson) made from acrylic tape. Visit or for more information.

The Chicago Improv Fest is still a couple of months out, but speed dialers can catch a sneak peek Friday the 25th or Saturday the 26th at The Second City Skybox (1608 N. Wells St.; 312-337-3992). Participating troupes include Whirled News Tonight (8 p.m. Friday) and Bassprov (8 p.m. Saturday). Tickets run $10 to $12.


Photo by Bootsy Holler, courtesy of The Carnaidesai Group