Marriage to a New Zealand-born actress has changed comedian Jake Johannsen's outlook on the world. For one thing, life down under certainly doesn't mirror the one he had in his native Iowa. "I love America, but I think that people really need to get out of America and see some other places," says the 48-year-old Johannsen, who brings his stand-up act to Hilarities this week. "To understand what they like about the U.S., there are things that [people] take for granted that they don't have everywhere." Still, the Comedy Central vet is loading his itinerary with stateside stops in St. Louis, Virginia Beach, San Francisco and Houston. Then he'll head overseas for shows that'll bring him into 2009. "Let's face it," he says. "There are some things that are as good in other countries. I mean, France makes some pretty good wine." Showtimes are at 8 tonight, 7:30 and 10:15 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday, and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Hilarities 4th Street, 2035 E. Fourth St. Tickets: $20-$25. Call 216.241.7425 or visit pickwickandfrolic.com. - P.F. Wilson Friday 10.17
DAMNED IF WE DON'T
Firestorm Pro's reigning heavyweight champ, "The Deviant" Michael Hutter, tangles with legendary Cleveland grappler J.T. Lightning during the main event of tonight's Damned If We Don't wrestling extravaganza at the Phantasy Theater. The bill also spotlights two-man tag-team action between the high-flying Cashanovas and the swashbuckling Cutthroat Crew, which sports Long John Silver get-ups in the ring. "First of all, who doesn't love a pirate?" asks Meg Alexander, the fights' promoter. "They come out to the sounds of pirate music. And they do razzle-dazzle flips, turns, tosses and stuff you don't think you could ever live through."
The six-bout event comes a month after WWE legend Jake "the Snake" Roberts made tabloid headlines at the Phantasy, where he stumbled into the ring, delivered an incoherent greeting, lost his match and dropped his trunks in front of 300 Boy Scouts in the audience. Afterward, he claimed somebody had drugged him; organizers said he was wasted on vodka. Roberts has since checked himself into rehab for the second time in less than a year. "At the time, nobody thought anything of it because he's a recovering alcoholic," says Alexander. "And who's going to tell a 7-foot guy what to do?" The first bell is at 7 p.m. at the Phantasy, 11802 Detroit Ave. in Lakewood. Admission: $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Call 216.228.6300 or visit phantasyconcertclub.com. - Cris Glaser
GHOULARDI FEST IV
More than 4,000 fans of one of Cleveland's most revered TV hosts are expected to flock to Independence for this weekend's Ghoulardi Fest IV. The bash will pay tribute to the late Ernie "Ghoulardi" Anderson, whose late-night Shock Theater on WJW-TV aired from 1963 to 1966. "Everybody says the crime rate was down when he was on, because everybody was home watching Ghoulardi," says Ron Garsteck, the fest's organizer. "And if you wear a Ghoulardi T-shirt anywhere in the country, everybody knows exactly who that is."
The confab also gives revelers a chance to meet some of Anderson's contemporaries, including Bob "Hoolihan" Wells and "Big Chuck" Schodowski, who took over Ghoulardi's Friday-night time slot after Anderson retired the character and moved to L.A. in the late '60s. Dozens of dealers will sell sci-fi and horror memorabilia in honor of the B-movies that Anderson screened on his show. Fans will even dress in costume for a Ghoulardi Halloween party at 8 p.m. tomorrow. "We're bringing back the good old days, when times were not as hectic as they are now," says Garsteck. "Like Big Chuck says, people are smiling all weekend long, because it's the good times they remember." The fest runs from 5 to 9 tonight, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. tomorrow and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Holiday Inn Independence, 6001 Rockside Rd. in Independence. Admission: $15. Call 440.230.4600 or visit theghoulardifest.net. - Glaser
PRESIDENTIAL BOBBLEHEAD GIVEAWAY
Here's one possible, if not totally reliable, way to gauge which candidate will be elected to the Oval Office in a few weeks: See if your kid picks a Barack Obama or John McCain figure at tonight's Presidential Bobblehead Giveaway at the Lake Erie Monsters-Norfolk Admirals hockey game. "This election will have a monster-sized impact on our future," says team president Kerry Bubolz. "What better place for our youth to weigh in with their opinion than a Monsters game? May the best bobble win."
In addition to tonight's inaugural Dollar Dog Fridays - where a hot dog and a 16-ounce drink cost a mere buck - the first 5,000 fans under the age of 18 to walk through the gates will receive one of the 8-inch figures. While both candidates sport the team's red-and-black jersey with the number "08" on the back, Obama is wearing a blue tie and McCain has a red one. "We're aiming these bobbleheads at kids because they obviously don't get to vote at the regular election," says team spokeswoman Sarah Jamieson. "We're giving them a chance to do so here. You really can't lose." Game time is at 7:30 p.m. at Quicken Loans Arena, 100 Gateway Plaza. Tickets: $10-$26. Call 216.420.0000 or visit lakeeriemonsters.com. - Glaser
SOMETHING DADA'S 14TH ANNIVERSARY PARTY
Looking back at 1994, Cleveland comedian Russ Stich wasn't making any bets that he and seven BFFs could keep an edgy, provocative improv troupe afloat in a town that has clubs on virtually every street corner. But he'll be the first to celebrate the company's highs and lows at Something Dada's 14th Anniversary Party. "Back then, none of us were clearheaded enough to see that far into the future," says Stich, who's now the group's manager. "We were like, 'Woo-hoo! We're building a theater!' We were headstrong mavericks who thought [we] could take the world by storm."
Originally known as Cabaret Dada, when it performed in a basement on West Sixth Street, Stich co-founded the group to fill an improvisational-comedy void in Northeast Ohio. Plus, he was antsy to exchange a four-year career as a stand-up comedian for a gig that revolved around scriptless, off-the-cuff material. "In improv, it's easier to convince yourself that you're funny," laughs Stich, who also teaches improv classes at Lakewood's Beck Center for the Arts and runs a summertime children's acting camp in Hudson. "Stand-up material can be monotonous. I used to go out and say the same joke every night. The audience would laugh, and I'd go, 'You think this is funny? Because I don't.' In improv, you gotta be a risk-taker who's willing to throw 20 things out there and hope 10 of them stick."
Something Dada moved into its Superior Avenue home two years ago and now boasts seven full-time members who perform every weekend. Tonight, they'll be reunited onstage with many of the nearly 100 alumni who now make the rounds on comedy circuits in L.A. and Chicago. "It'll become a party more than a performance, which is great if the audience is along for the ride and gets to play," says Stich. "It'll be like seeing old friends." Doors open at 8 p.m. at the Tower Press Building, 1900 Superior Ave. Tickets: $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Call 215.595.4242 or visit somethingdada.com. - Glaser
THE INDIAN MUSEUM OF LAKE COUNTY'S 28TH ANNIVERSARY PARTY
Central and South American artwork takes the spotlight this weekend when local Native Americans mark the Indian Museum of Lake County's 28th Anniversary Party. It also gives Director Ann Dewald a chance to show off the facility's recent expansion. "Our museum will have plenty of displays, exhibits and storytelling reflecting the amazing and disciplined work of many original settlers," she says. "And the new building - easily five times our previous size - has allowed us to accommodate even more educational and historical items."
The open house will include items like flint tools and religious artifacts from as far back as 200 A.D. that were unearthed in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru. They'll share space with ancient hunting gear, battle uniforms and holiday ornaments that prehistoric tribes made in what is now Fairport Harbor and Eastlake. "Many great missionaries arrived in these diverse eastern-hemispheric villages," says Dewald. "Their work with natives has helped preserve the significance of these items with no romantic revisionism of the plights of many of the tribes." The party runs from 1 to 4 p.m. today and tomorrow at the Indian Museum of Lake County, 25 Public Square in Willoughby. Admission: $2 ($1 for kids). Call 440.951.3813 or visit indianmuseumoflakecounty.org. - Chad Felton
BRISTOL PALIN BABY SHOWER
Maria Miranda admits she's "just being a smartass" as the brainchild behind the Bristol Palin Baby Shower in Tremont. But if she has to go on the defensive against GOP VP nominee Sarah Palin, she'll throw a mock party to protest the Alaska governor's abstinence-only sex-education plan. The platform, says Miranda, didn't work for Palin's pregnant, unwed 17-year-old daughter. "It's the act of being snarky and saying, 'Governor, we support sex ed. You didn't, and look what happened,'" she says. "It's not meant to be a mean-spirited thing. We totally want Bristol to have a happy, healthy baby. But it's got people talking again about what we are teaching our kids in school."
The shower also doubles as a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood of Alaska. Once Miranda sends a donation in Palin's honor, the agency (as is its policy) will send the governor a thank-you note. "The point is to say, 'Hey, Planned Parenthood! We support what you're doing. We hear ya, and we feel ya,'" she says. "When they get a donation, they gotta send Governor Palin an acknowledgement letter. Then she'll realize that we've gotta give kids what they need to know." Or at least that's the plan.
To give the party a shower vibe, the dress code is all about pink and blue pastels. "This will be easy and breezy," says Miranda. "So have a cocktail, make a donation, sign a postcard and take some action." The shower starts at 3:30 p.m. at Prosperity Social Club, 1109 Starkweather Ave. in Tremont. Admission: free. Call 216.927.1938 or visit prosperitysocialclub.com. - Glaser
WEARABLE ART FASHION SHOW & BOUTIQUE
As Chris Heusinger chips away at her goal of traveling to all 50 states, she's picking up exotic clothing along the way at some of the nation's most cutting-edge fashion salons. "Some people collect snow globes; I collect jackets," laughs Heusinger, who helped organize the Wearable Art Fashion Show & Boutique in Lake County. "Every time I put on a jacket, I have a story to tell about wherever I travel."
The fifth-annual luncheon and runway show features 250 pieces of clothing and jewelry. Sales benefit the Cleveland Museum of Art's Textile Art Alliance. The fiber-based designs range from Nagada's hand-woven pieces of Egyptian fabric to Fine Points' hand-dyed knitwear. "If you're like me and like one-of-a-kind, unusual and very different articles of clothing, this is the place you want to go, because everything is dyed, felted or knitted by the person who's made it," says Heusinger, who lives in Berea. "A lot of them work out of their homes and don't have stores. So this is a good way to promote their work." The show starts at 11 a.m. at the LaMalfa Conference Center, 5783 Heisley Rd. in Mentor. Tickets: $45, and reservations are required. Call 216.707.6819 or visit taacleveland.org. - Glaser
GLENLIVET SINGLE-MALT SCOTCH TASTING
Give props to the Scots, who know a stiff drink when they taste it. You can test your own alcohol tolerance at Brothers Lounge's Glenlivet Single-Malt Scotch Tasting.
Along with apps and cheeses, the menu offers five of the Scottish distillery's best-sellers. For starters, there's the 12-year-old Classic Speyside Whiskey, with its playful combo of peach, pear, pineapple and almond flavors. Then it's on to the 15-year-old French Oak Reserve, which critics have called a chocolate-and-almond "bouquet for a sweet tooth." The 16-year-old Nˆdurra - which means "natural" in Gaelic - "bursts with notes of wild flowers, cooked apples, coconut and spice," wrote Wine International magazine in 2004. The final samples include the 18-year-old Select Oak and the 21-year-old signature scotch, Glenlivet, which has been rated by Malt Advocate Magazine as "the Sean Connery of whiskies - mature, sexy, rich and debonair." But you may want to bring along the number to your favorite cab company; all of these whiskeys clock in with at least 40-proof alcohol. The first pour is at 7 p.m. at Brothers Lounge, 11609 Detroit Ave. Admission: $20, and reservations are required. Call 216.226.2767 or visit brotherslounge.com. - Glaser