Die Laughing Comedy comes with a scary edge at a two-for-one show starring sketch group The Lunch Box and performer Peter Sinn Nachtrieb. The Lunch Box, comprised of New England expatriates Thessaly Lerner and Mary C. Matthews, follow up a citywide tour of their show That Magic Open Mic with Carnies, an original piece about 12 fic-tional carnival workers, drawn from interviews with actual carnival workers. Peer, if you dare, into the secret life of the midway: Meet the woman who stocks big, stuffed pastel bears at the ring toss; or the man who runs the Zipper, standing around smoking and digging the crud out from under his nails while white-knuckled kids scream for mercy. When Peter Nachtrieb isn't writing and performing with sketch-comedy group Killing My Lobster or doing his site-specific piece Reading and Drinking Coffee on the Larkspur Ferry, he'll become The Amorphous Blob, a man-made creature with a broken heart and a thirst for vengeance. The thrills and chills afforded by the solo's climactic battle scene are matched only by the work's inclusion of puppets. The show begins at 8 p.m. (and repeats Sunday, Jan. 11) at Venue 9, 252 Ninth St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $7-12; call 541-5064.
The Resolution File Good news for everyone who decided to quit smoking, get more exercise, take up a new hobby, or meet new people in '98. "Smoking Cessation," a support group and educational clinic that provides information on various ways to kick butts, begins at 6 p.m. today at California Pacific Medical Center's Community Health Resource Center, 2100 Webster (at Sacramento), Suite 100, S.F. The cost is $75 for a six-week session; call 923-3155 to register. A Scottish Country Dancing Class, which offers all kinds of opportunities for self-improvement, introduces first-timers to jigs and reels set to fiddle music (students can practice their new moves at an upcoming Valentine's Day dance party). Partners aren't required but dance shoes or tennis shoes are essential for the class, which begins today at 8:15 p.m. at Millberry Fitness Center, Parnassus & Hillway, UCSF campus. Cost is $50 for 10 weeks; call 476-1115 to register.
'Allo Ali Before there was Robin Williams as the voice of Aladdin there was Fernandel as Ali Baba, in Jacques Becker's 1954 film Ali Baba et les 40 Voleurs, which will be shown with subtitles for all us non-French-speaking types who don't know that the title translates as Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves. In this film, the first of a series of French comedies screening at the Alliance Française on Tuesdays and Saturdays in January, Ali Baba accidentally stumbles upon the cave where Abdul and his band of 40 thieves have stashed their ill-gotten gains. Our boy Baba makes off with enough gold to buy the beautiful slave girl Morgiane (Samia Gamal) from his master, Cassim, but Cassim and Abdul plot to exact their revenge on Baba and Morgiane's wedding night. The movie screens at 7 p.m. (and again on Saturday, Jan. 10, at 1:30 p.m.) at the Alliance Francaise, 1345 Bush (at Polk), S.F. Admission is $5; call 775-7755.