REEP THE REWARD: In the seething black hole of cheap contrivances that is reality television, there is at least one that can claim some shred of legitimacy. I’m referring to Last Comic Standing, a reality competition program that pits some of the best unknown comics against each other, a la American Idol or America’s Got Talent. But the thing that separates Last Comic Standing from similar shows is, in my opinion, the medium itself. Many have spoken about the subjectivity of comedy. But I think when it comes down to it, comedy is always going to be more objective because it has a gauge in laughter. It is much harder to deny the impact of a performance when it’s eliciting a physical reaction from you. While I don’t watch Last Comic Standing religiously, it’s still a reliable source of funny in a show where I can actually respect the contestants. One such contestant, Jon Reep, will be stopping at the Comedy Club Stardome in Hoover this week. Reep is the season five winner of Last Comic Standing, but you may know him from that old Dodge commercial where he inquires “That thing got a hemi?” He’s also quite the impressionist, if that’s your style. He’ll be performing on December 30 & 31 to round out the year for the Stardome. Both shows start at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $18.50. For more information, call (205) 444-0008 or visit www.stardome.com.
FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF: Of all the gatherings and get-togethers you’ll find this New Year’s 2801 Eve, 7th Avenue the annual South Hats & Horns | Birmingham, New Year’s ALEve Party 205.202.4024 is special for a couple | www.cafedeparis.us of reasons, according to the organization. One, it is “Birmingham’s longest running New Year’s Eve Party,” so you know they’ve got the party planning down. Second, it is the “only New Year’s Eve gala that supports local charities,” so you can drink your weight in champagne and still feel good about yourself. The event will be taking place at the B&A Warehouse, and they’ve spared no frills in bringing you the ideal New Year’s Eve celebration. The doors will open at 8 p.m., to give you some time to check out the silent auction, the open bar and the dinner buffet being served throughout the night. Live music will start around 9 p.m., with Mother Mercy and Hashbrown both playing sets. It all culminates at midnight, when you’ll toast to the new year with champagne, of course. The music will continue all the way until 1 a.m. All proceeds benefit The Bell Center and Operation School Bell, two programs dedicating to serving the needs of children in our community. Tickets for the event are $125. For more information, call (205) 913- 5749 or visit www.hatsandhorns.com.
YEAR WITH A VIEW: While Birmingham (or any other self-respecting big city) is never short on New Year’s Eve events, the following day is always something of a letdown. But I suppose that’s what New Year’s Day is, essentially. You had all the fun the night before—now you’ve got to think about what you’re going to do with the next year. Well, what better activity for contemplation and reflection than a walk in the woods? Ruffner Mountain Nature Center will be offering another one of their frequent hikes to any and all that wish to participate. They’re calling this one their “New Year’s Day Celebration Family Hike.” You’ll start at the edge of the preserve and walk three miles inward to Ruffner’s Hawk View Overlook. When you reach your destination, your guides will present you with some complimentary ginger ale, and you can toast the new year without worry of another eventual hangover. The hike will start at 10 p.m. and take about three hours to complete. General admission is $7, and tickets for Ruffner members are $5. For more information, call (205) 833-8264 or visit www.ruffnermountain.org.
LIGHT’S ON IN THE ZOO: Perhaps it’s just me, but the holiday season seems to whizz by faster and faster each year. I tend to think that’s because as I get older, year after year, traditions dwindle. I am less anchored to the holidays simply because I’m not celebrating them as much. It seems like far less time than a few weeks ago I first told you about the “Zoolight Safari” at the Birmingham Zoo. The attraction has been up for the entire month of December, but I never found the time to see it. I’ve been in years past, and can vouch for the spectacle, but it’s yet another sample of the season I haven’t embraced. If you’re one for keeping up traditions, this is one to add to the list, if only to make those work-free/school-free weeks last a little while longer. The Safari will be coming to an end on this week, so act while you still can. The event boasts half-a-million Christmas lights, that you can view on their Holiday Express Train Ride. Other activities include a “Winter Trail Ride,” a “Santa’s Rock ‘n’ Roller Racers” ride, a “Jingle Bell Carousel” and a kids’ zone set up in the Children’s Zoo barn that features animal demonstrations and photo opportunities. The attraction will be up all this week until Sunday, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. each night. Tickets for non-members are $8, while Birmingham Zoo members get in free. An “All- You-Can-Ride” wristband costs $10. For more information, call (205) 879-0409 or visit www.birminghamzoo.com.
TERRIFIED OF TRIVIA? Innisfree Pub has been hosting “Trivia With Reed” for six years now, going on seven. Every Monday night, participants have gotten together to duke it out in the trivia tournament that has them competing for various prizes. This is probably a little intimidating for someone who’s never been before. The nice thing is, you can arrive early and form a team from people you’ve just met, some of whom are probably regulars and quite skilled at this particular brand of trivia. If you’re not the intimidated type, bring your own ragtag team and give it all you’ve got. The game starts at 8:30 p.m., and admission is free. (And if you can’t make it on Monday night, the game moves to Steel Urban Lounge on Tuesday nights.) For more information, call (205) 252-4255.
FEELING TINI? This week, I’d suggest avoiding your regular old Tuesday night and hightail it over to Forest Park. Little Savannah, the Southern bistro known for its local ingredients and all-over exemplarity, will again be holding its “Tini Tuesday.” Stop in the restaurant and pick out your favorite kind of cocktail or martini for only $5. Pair it with some fine dining and you’ll feel much better heading into the back end of your week. For more information, or to ask about times and prices, call (205) 591-1119 or visit www.littlesavannah.com.
WIDE OPEN: If you do a little digging in our music calendar each week, you know that you’ve got quite a few options when it comes to open mics. In addition to Steel Urban Lounge’s weekly open mic, you’re bound to see other venues like Moonlight on the Mountain, Rogue Tavern and even Bottletree holding their own events at least two or three times a month. One venue we haven’t highlighted much in our calendars is Sipsey Tavern, a dive bar in the former location of Bailey’s Pub in Five Point South. And while I could give you a write-up of all the reasons you should visit Sipsey, I’ll instead just suggest you attend the Open Mic with Randall Stewart this Wednesday. Stewart is probably one of the most seasoned hosts you’re going to find. He’s been a major player at Marty’s for years and knows his way around the open mic game. Best of all, he’s invested in giving audiences the best show he can. So whether you come for the bar or come for the music, you won’t be letting yourself down. For more information about times and prices, call (205) 202-4116 or visit www.sipseytavern.com.
THE FULL MONTY: Last week I talked about Birmingham art galleries, how they could benefit from being open more. I praised the Artists Incorporated gallery for being one of the few to open shows back-to-back. Well, let me add Monty Stabler Galleries to that list. They are following up their Cathie Radney exhibit (closed December 31) with a new show six days later—Bethanne Hill’s solo exhibit. Hill has popped up a couple of times recently, once for her contributions to Kevin Irwin Studio’s “Flameworks: A Group Show of Fire-Born Art for the Holidays” earlier this month. Monty Stabler is her self-described “hometown gallery.” She was born in Tuscaloosa and a graduate of Birmingham-Southern College and The Alabama School of Fine Arts. Her work falls somewhere between folk art and art nouveau. Her acrylic pieces (on paper, wood and canvas) are littered with Southern influences but end up looking like something an aborigine would have painted. The opening reception next Thursday will go from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., but the works will be on display through the month of February. For more information, call (205) 879-9888 or visit www.montystablergalleries.com.