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The Reader Agenda

Film festivals, music festivals, ending hunger, and more

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Thursday, August 4

Friday, August 5

Saturday, August 6

Sunday, August 7

Monday, August 8

Tuesday, August 9

Wednesday, August 10

Thursday, August 4

So you think you're funny

Is no one laughing at your jokes? Are eyes being rolled the second you launch into your "routine"? Do friends find you so obnoxious that they drink themselves stupid just to bear being in the same room as you? Well, it's probably time you signed up for an amateur comedy competition—to show them how hilarious you really are. She-nannigans' Comedy Challenge begins tonight and runs every Thursday through 10/27. Three to five comics face off each week, with a rotating panel of judges telling them how much they stink. Participants will be whittled down to one winner at the end of October, who will receive $500 and a gig as the house comic. Join the live audience and watch the potential train wreck. 7 PM, 16 W. Division, 312-642-2344, rushanddivision.com/shenannigans.html. To sign up, e-mail mattk@rushanddivision.com and include photos or links to acts. 

Friday, August 5

Comedy and important stuff

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Hosted by syndicated columnist Mark Bazer, the Interview Show returns for its monthly bout of comedy, news, and music. Comedian, podcast host, and frequent late-night talk show guest Marc Maron (pictured) will provide comic relief (his podcast, WTF With Marc Maron, is more than solid) and Chicago News Cooperative editor James O'Shea will offer insight into stuff that's important and worth your attention. Local musicians Jon Langford and Lawrence Peters round out the evening with a hybrid of musical antics. 6:30-8 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, hideoutchicago.com, $8.

A month of movies

Tonight, the Black Harvest International Festival of Film and Video begins its monthlong run of 16 features and 30 shorts at the Gene Siskel Film Center. Festival highlights throughout the month include a documentary on Kevin Clash, the Muppeteer behind Elmo,

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in Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey; the 8/14 DIY workshop and panel discussion "How to Get a Movie Made"; and a host of Chicago-related films including Phunny Business: A Black Comedy and Infiltrating Hollywood: The Rise and Fall of the Spook Who Sat by the Door. 8/5-9/1, Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, 312-846-2600, siskelfilmcenter.org.

Saturday, August 6

Music festivals not in Grant Park

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This is going to sound absolutely bat-shit crazy, but I swear it's true. (I even double-checked.) There are musical festivals occurring this weekend besides Lollapalooza. The musical genres are a tad different than Lolla's, but that's what makes the South Shore Jazz Fest and Festival Cubano a welcome relief to a weekend ruled by arena-bound indie rock and dudes dishing out beats from their laptops. Held at the South Shore Cultural Center (71st and South Shore), the South Shore Jazz Fest runs through Sunday and features McCoy Tyner, Orbert Davis, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Regina Carter, and Dee Alexander. Spanning the same days, Festival Cubano sets up shop in Riis Park (6100 W. Fullerton) with headliners Hansel y Raul and Willy Chirino. If you don't feel like wading through 90,000 people, many of them sweating out copious amounts of alcohol and ecstasy, it's good to know there are other options. Visit jazzunites.com and thecubanfestival.com for details.

Saki invites Epitonic over for drinks

Eleanor Friedberger of the Fiery Furnaces kicked off the Epitonic Saki Sessions last month when her in-store session at Saki record store was captured by the pioneering—and recently revived—MP3 site epitonic.com. The collaboration continues today with Anticon artist Son Lux (aka Ryan Lott). The sessions, which are in the fledgling stages, combine audio and visual, and the finished product is expected to end up on epitonic.com—hopefully by late August. 6 PM, Saki, 3716 W. Fullerton, 773-486-3997, sakistore.net or epitonic.com

Sunday, August 7

Sunday morning cartoons (kind of)

This weekend's edition of the Music Box's Children's Matinee Series wraps up today with a final screening of Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Stretching through the end of August, the special weekend matinees offer a chance to drag your whining kids out of the heat and plop them down in front of cartoons, Muppets, and Dr. Seuss characters. Muppets Take Manhattan screens 8/12-8/14, 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T screens 8/19-8/21, and The Red Balloon and White Mane screen as part of a double bill on 8/26-8/28. 11:30 AM, 3733 N. Southport, 773-871-6604, musicboxtheatre.com, $7.25.

Monday, August 8

Mazurek sets up camp at the Whistler

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As part of the Relax Attack Jazz Series, Rob Mazurek's Exploding Star Orchestra begins a four-day stint tonight at the Whistler, the progressive, intimate Logan Square venue. There are few venues in town as eclectic—and few with better cocktails. Read more on Mazurek and ESO. Mon-Thu 8/8-8/11, 10 PM, the Whistler, 2421 N. Milwaukee, 773-227-3530, whistlerchicago.com

Tuesday, August 9

Please get out of my Van Halen T-shirt

I grew up in the Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore era, and yes, I watched them religiously because they were absurd comedy and there were giant penguins, flaming bags of shit, and Bob Barker throwing down fisticuffs. But everyone knows that the 1998 masterpiece The Wedding Singer was Adam Sandler's seminal role. The cover band Androgynous Mustache (made up of members of the Webstirs, Cells, B1g T1me, etc) is taking its appreciation of the film's 80s kitsch to the next level. As part of the monthly series Soundtrack Serenade, the band will cover the movie's sound track in its entirety, featuring all the jams forced down your throat at any 80s night ever, anywhere. Artists include the Smiths, New Order, Psychedelic Furs, the Police, and David Bowie. 9 PM, Quenchers Saloon, 2401 N. Western, 773-276-9730, quenchers.com, $5.

Wednesday, August 10

Charitable (and fancy) eating and drinking

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If you're a bit of a slacker who often has trouble nailing down reservations at the city's buzzed-about restaurants, Taste of the Nation is your chance for redemption. Focusing on ending childhood hunger in the U.S., the not-for-profit organization Share Our Strength hosts the evening and will present awards for "contributions to improving community access to nutritious food, nutrition education, hunger relief, or hunger awareness programs." The event includes offerings from superstar chefs and mixologists including Stephanie Izard (Girl & the Goat), Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill), Paul Virant (Vie), Mark Steuer (the Bedford), and Shawn McClain (Green Zebra). Yeah, admission is pricey and all, but you can square it by acknowledging that it's for a good cause. 7-10 PM, Navy Pier Ballroom, 600 E. Grand, 773-550-8570, strength.org/chicago, $95.

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