Today: a festival of clowns that isn't for kids, some off-the-map music for anyone who didn't get a ticket to Talib Kweli, and so, so much comedy.
THEATRE: The Toronto Festival of Clowns runs this weekend, with performances by local talent, like sketch performer and bouffon Phil Luzi. His Bleed, like many of the festival’s offerings, is definitely not for kids (Scotiabank Studio Theatre, 6 Noble Street, Friday at 8 p.m., $ 10). The National Ballet’s production of Hamlet opens tonight as well, with Piotr Stanczyk dancing the title role (Four Seasons Centre For the Performing Arts, 145 Queen Street West, $25–$234). And it’s your last chance tonight and this weekend to see a pair of great shows closing at the Tarragon Theatre: Michel Tremblay’s The Real World?, which we appreciated for its Inception-like layers of reality, and Seventh Stage’s production of Bryony Lavery’s Stockholm, a sexy and disturbing piece that leaves you wondering who actually suffers from the titular syndrome until the very end (Tarragon Theatre, 30 Bridgman Avenue, 8 p.m., various prices).
MUSIC: There are high-profile shows tonight from NYC-based poet/activist/rapper Talib Kweli and Quebecois punk-folk singer-songwriter Coeur de Pirate. But there are also some great showcases by long-running local music series:
- Wavelength Music Series presents a terrific trio of local acts tonight: exotic orchestral act Del Bel, Constantines alumnus Bry Webb, and folk chanteuse Lisa Bozikovic. 918 Bathurst Cultural Centre (918 Bathurst Street), 8 p.m.–12 a.m., $12 in advance, $15 at the door.
- The Steam Whistle Unsigned series presents great acts who are still playing independent of a record company (by choice or otherwise). Tonight’s strong lineup features already-celebrated acoustic folk outfit The Wilderness of Manitoba, Ottawa-area rockers Amos the Transparent, and rising newcomers Cai.ro. Steam Whistle Brewery (255 Bremner Boulevard), 8 p.m., $5 (proceeds to the Artist’s Health Centre Foundation).
- Scrappy local showcase series The Indie Machine is back. Tonight’s show consists of electronic-oriented music, including headliners OPOPO and MachineFiend. The Silver Dollar (486 Spadina Avenue), doors at 9 p.m., $6.
COMEDY: Comedy Bar‘s getting a lot of attention this week, owing to a cover story in The Grid about the various comedy scenes that intersect and flourish there. And certainly, tonight’s shows are as good as any. There’s Catch 23 Improv. And then there’s a special show from Nick Flanagan of Laugh Sabbath and Mark Little of Picnicface. Or, try the late-night frat party Mantown (all were mentioned in The Grid feature). But there’s also plenty of innovative and out-there comedy happening elsewhere in the city:
- Popular and long-running sketch troupe The Boom, now appearing regularly at the Drake Underground, have their first Friday night show there tonight, with host Hunter Collins and guests Dylan Gott, Ladystache, and John Hastings. Drake Hotel Underground (1150 Queen Street West), 8 p.m., $10.
- The wildly unpredictable Marty Topps House Party Show claims to have pop star Carly Rae Jensen as a guest tonight, and that she’ll “sign anything” with an autograph during her appearance. Take that with a grain of salt, but we’re sure these guests are genuine: Brian Barlow, Steph Kaliner, and Eric Andrews. Double Double Land (209 Augusta Avenue), 10 p.m., $5 in advance, $8 at the door.
- The National Theatre of the World, being improvisers, have a hard time saying no. That’s the only rationale behind their insane schedule tonight, when they perform 7:30 and 9 p.m. Script Tease Project shows at Theatre Passe Muraille (16 Ryerson Avenue), then do their monthly Carnegie Hall Show late-night cabaret, with guests acrobat Rebecca Leonard, singer Dean Armstrong, and Jackie English and The Carnegie Hall Dancers. Second City Toronto (51 Mercer Street), 11 p.m., $6–$12.
Urban Planner is Torontoist‘s guide to what’s on in Toronto, published every weekday morning, and in a weekend edition Friday afternoons. If you have an event you’d like considered, email all of its details—as well as images, if you’ve got any—to firstname.lastname@example.org.