When it comes to picking a lane in standup comedy, curmudgeonly white men have some options. At one end of the mainstream spectrum you have guys like Bill Burr, who charge full-tilt into the culture wars. On the other end, you’ll find Jim Gaffigan, who masterfully mines self-deprecation and befuddlement for laughs. But some negotiate a trickier, middle ground—threading the needle with jokes about identity politics and political correctness, doing their best to dodge the myriad land mines in their path.
“I’m 85% woke,” Marc Maron admitted at the climax of End Times Fun, his most recent Netflix comedy special. “The other 15% I keep to myself.”
As host of the popular podcast WTF with Marc Maron, Maron has disarmed the likes of the late Robin Williams, Fresh Air’s famously private host Terry Gross and even President Barack Obama. He even taps into a segment of the Joe Rogan demographic without ever lapsing into the lazy and problematic trope of “just asking questions.”
Executing this balancing act requires no shortage of self-awareness and is undoubtedly aided by Maron’s willingness to be vulnerable. He’s been candid about his struggles with addiction and dysfunctional relationships—excavating both comedy and genuine insights from pain in his memoir Attempting Normal and his semi-autobiographical IFC series, Maron.
Of course, it also helps that he’s got great comedic timing. End Times Fun was released on March 10, 2020—just in time for the panicked toilet paper-buying sprees and grocery-sanitizing days of the early pandemic.
Maron’s current tour, aptly titled “This May Be the Last Time,” comes to San Francisco on Feb. 19. He was originally scheduled to perform this weekend, but made the decision to reschedule last minute. Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. show is sold out but tickets still remain for the 9:30 p.m. set. (NV)
The Palace of Fine Arts, 3601 Lyon St.
Saturday, Feb. 19
Brava Theater, 2781 24th Street
Thursday-Sunday, Jan. 27-30
The Othello Jefferson-directed “I, Too, Sing America” pairs the poetry of Langston Hughes, Frances Chung and Vince Gotera with original music and dance. The show takes its title from Hughes’ poem, “I, too,” which directly interrogates the work of Walt Whitman. Hughes considered Whitman a personal hero but was also critical of the transcendentalist icon’s whitewashed vision of America. The performance, which runs through Feb. 13, aims to present a “fuller picture of people of color”—highlighting ambitions, triumphs, traditions and joys, rather than focusing solely on oppression and pain. Tickets start at $15. (PB)
Hosfelt Gallery, 260 Utah St.
Thursday-Friday, Jan. 27-28
Viewing Gideon Rubin’s paintings is like chasing someone through a dream, someone you know but can’t quite place. The artist’s newest surreal, figurative paintings often portray young people—many of whom are boys in red shirts and girls in green dresses—turned away from the viewer. It’s a variation on a familiar theme: In previous work, Rubin simply left his subjects’ faces blank. Though they lack facial details, Rubin’s boys and girls still exude personalities. They are identifiable by their clothes, hairstyles, and postures—characteristics from which we derive some imagined persona. (MB)
Manny’s, 3092 16th St.
Friday, Jan. 28 @ Manny’s
This new poetry series and discussion group aims to provide a space for Bay Area readers and writers. The Living Room has already hosted talented trans advocate Cal Calamia, local educator and transcontinental activist Karla Brundage, and food-centric author and organizer Kevin Madrigal Galindo. This month the roster features Youssef Alaoui, Keith Donnell Jr., Antony Fangary, Kiley McLaughlin, Christine No, and the rotating community partner for January is City of Dreams. (PB)
Grant Ave., Chinatown
Saturday, Jan. 29 & Sunday, Jan. 30
Get ready for the Year of the Tiger with this festive lead-up to Lunar New Year. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, peruse booths of fresh flowers, fruits and candies and catch performances of traditional Chinese opera, magicians, acrobats and folk dancers during this colorful street festival. Chinatown officially kicks off Lunar New Year in Portsmouth Square on Tuesday, Feb. 1, with an opening ceremony called Choy Sun Doe (Welcoming the God of Wealth Day). Choy Suns, or gods of wealth, scattered throughout Chinatown will pass out red envelopes, or “lai sees,” to children filled with a chocolate gold coin and other goodies such as money, gift certificates or a toy. (CC)
Pacific Ave. & Grant Ave.
Saturday-Sunday, Jan. 29-30
The country’s oldest Chinatown is packed with culinary delights. For $75, this tour will take you on an adventure of delicious discovery. Stops include the fortune cookie factory, the oldest Buddhist temple in San Francisco, and plenty of dim sum. If you can’t attend this weekend, don’t sweat it. The Chinatown Food Tour—organized by Sidewalk Food Tours of San Francisco—appears to run every Saturday and Sunday for the foreseeable future. (PB)
Glass Rice Gallery, 808 Sutter St.
Saturday, Jan. 29
The two-person exhibition of new paintings by Brooklyn-based artists Anthony Eslick and Rachel Hayden, is a bit like an acid trip—albeit one you can end whenever you choose. Both artists’ paintings warp iconographic imagery to their own surreal tune. Melting smiley faces, weeping flowers and giant eyeballs are rendered in similarly illustrative, airbrushed styles, making these delightfully weird images pop. While Eslick takes inspiration from dreams to create his disjointed compositions, Hayden’s subjects are directly linked to a certain mood or mindset. (MB)
Your Mood Gallery, Pier 70, Building 11
Saturday, Jan. 29
The works in this two-person exhibition of Bay Area-based artists Kacy Jung and Nikki Nolan focus on faces. In addition to portraiture, both artists work in installation and sculpture, and each are interested in the idea that certain aspects of identity are akin to performance. Nolan’s ongoing body of work is a response to the artist’s earliest memories of being photographed: photographic self-portraits cut out in the style of paper masks. Jung’s large photographs of faces printed on fabric become warped when displayed crumpled or draped. The unsettling and playful pieces raise questions around the authenticity of one’s self-image and mediated perception. Opening night is Saturday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m with a 6 p.m. performance by Jung. (MB)
The Makeout Room, 3225 22nd St.
Sunday, Jan. 30
Formed in San Francisco in the early aughts, local post-hardcore outfit The Enablers’ sound a bit like a slowed-down version of At the Drive-In—if Omar Rodríguez-López traded in his angular guitar heroics for plodding Duster-esque riffs and Cedric Bixler-Zavala stopped aping Thomas Pynchon and started channeling Raymond Carver instead. Loping, semi-sweet guitar lines occasionally dip into dissonant intervals as they twine about the languid, gravelly spoken-word poetry of frontman Pete Simonelli. If anyone could put the abject madness and utter absurdity of what it means to be a human being in 2022 it’s Simonelli. And given that band’s most recent record, “Zones,” dropped back in the summer of 2019—less than a year before the world was turned upside down—there’s a decent chance The Enablers will treat fans to some new material that does just that. (NV)
Paolo Bicchieri, Max Blue, Christina Campodonico and Nick Veronin contributed additional reporting for this story.
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