If you want to watch the nation's most famous black performers, you can see Martin Lawrence and Will Smith in the cinematic masterpiece Bad Boys II. But if your real interest is in seeing African-American artists at the top of their craft, the 10th annual AfroSolo Arts Festival should be where you park your culture-vulture carcass.
The fest, produced each summer by the award-winning AfroSolo Theatre Company, showcases the best visual-art virtuosos, comedians, dancers, actors, and musicians of color in the Bay Area. Organizers scour the local scene for underrated talent; in fact, since its start in 1994 the multiweek event has introduced more than 75 acts to hometown audiences.
This week, comics barter barbs and swap slapstick at "An Explosion of Comedy," hosted by HBO's Def Comedy Jam regular Donald E. Lacy Jr. The night's clowning ranges from the female-friendly observations of Andre "The Wonder Woman" to the uproarious musical parodies of William Wesley Walls. Other comedians include San Francisco native Carla Clayy and the don of local open mike stand-up, Tony Sparks. Event proceeds go to the Love Life Foundation, a violence-prevention program for youth. Additional AfroSolo events take place all through the summer: Sept. 6's "Voices From the Black Diaspora" is an evening of theater, dance, music, and spoken word inspired by the scattering of Africans throughout the world. On Sept. 16 the Omar Sosa Jazz Quintet closes out the fest with its explosive Afro-Caribbean beats. "An Explosion of Comedy" starts tonight at 8 in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum, 701 Mission (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $18; call 771-2376 or visit www.afrosolo.org for a complete schedule.
-- Jack Karp
A Rousing Retrospective
With so many outcasts, rascals, and unusual characters populating our city's past, just about any history-related event is bound to be lively. But "The Complete Condensed History of the Bay Area: Seafarers to Silicon Valley" is especially recommendable. The whirlwind tour of local yesteryears is written and performed by husband-and-wife acting team Michael and Renee Oakes, known around town for their breathless presentations on Jack London and the California Gold Rush, and who've based their chronological tale on memoirs, journals, and letters. In addition, the program is hosted aboard the 1886 square-rigger Balclutha. The show starts at 8 p.m. (and runs through Sept. 20) at Hyde Street Pier, the west end of Fisherman's Wharf, S.F. Admission is $10-15; call 775-2665.
-- Joyce Slaton
Relics for All
Still steamed over missing last week's Antiques Roadshow stopover in San Francisco? Soothe your craving for magnificent objects from bygone times at Antique Faire in the Park, the one-stop ephemera marketplace hosted in Golden Gate Park. More than 60 vendors hawk everything from vintage furniture and glassware to classic clothing and rare used books; visitors not enchanted with the heirloom artifacts can enjoy live jazz, carnival-style games for the kiddies, and organic wine and beer tasting. The bargaining begins at 10:30 a.m. at the San Francisco County Fair Building (aka the Hall of Flowers), Ninth Avenue & Lincoln, S.F. Admission is free-$8; call 465-2475 or visit www.antiquefaireinthepark.com.
-- Joyce Slaton
The pub quiz is a mighty institution, combining careful thought with its natural companion, beer. Trivia night is always a happy time, full of silly team names ("Keith Richards' Dentures" is a good one; ditto "I'm Wearing Pink Underwear") and the camaraderie of people who might actually have read a newspaper recently. Tonight, the Playwrights' Center of San Francisco Pub Quiz ups the ante of a normal trivia night with actors, directors, and writer/janitors whose "wits" and "talent," the center's press department claims, will spice up the proceedings. There are (oh yes) prizes starting at 8 p.m. at Annie's Cocktail Lounge, 10 Boardman (at Bryant), S.F. Admission is $10; call 626-4603 or visit www.playwrightscentersf.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser