- Courtesy of the artist
Tennessee native Nate Bargatze has the kind of droll, deadpan sensibility that allows jokes to sneak up on you—and he's smart enough to know his audience. In a performance for the Netflix special Brad Paisley's Comedy Rodeo, before a crowd of Southerners, he pokes fun at animal-rights sensitivity, but with a twist that makes it more than just regional pandering. When he explains that he's not interested in eating free-range chicken, he makes it clear that it's not just because he wants to stick it to those snowflake liberals. "I won't eat a chicken with a dream," Bargatze says. "Life was great for that guy. I want to eat a miserable, not-free-range chicken. I want a chicken that, when they killed it, he was like, 'Look, I'm ready for this.'"
Like most on-the-rise comics, Bargatze has made his way from comedy clubs through appearances on late-night talk shows (including joining Jimmy Fallon's "Clean-Cut Comedy Tour"), a comedy album (2016's Yelled at By a Clown) and a one-hour Comedy Central special (Full Time Magic). Netflix users can find not just his aforementioned appearance with Brad Paisley, but as one of the featured comedians on The Standups.
But if you want to get the best of Bargatze, catch him live, where you can truly get into his easy rhythms as a storyteller. Plenty of guys can tell jokes, but you want a real professional to share the tale of how a distant ancestor was murdered with a sickle, or the unsettling experience of visiting a low-rent "serpentarium" when a crocodile escapes into the crowd. It's good fun no matter what part of the country you hail from. (Scott Renshaw)
Nate Bargatze @ Wiseguys SLC, 194 S. 400 West, 801-532-5233, Dec. 29-31, 7 & 9:30 p.m., $25, wiseguyscomedy.com
- Zelda Symphony
The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses
Addiction to video games can be all-consuming. For some, they're practically impossible to put down. There are those who find gaming is as essential as air, water, food and sex. Well, maybe not that last one. Nevertheless, virtual adventure is the new reality.
It's not surprising, then, that this ongoing obsession has penetrated the world of artistic expression. Credit producer Eiji Aonuma with transforming those onscreen adventures into a sprawling orchestral extravaganza. The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses celebrates the wildly popular Legend of Zelda video game franchise with a 66-piece orchestra, 24-voice choir and an original score inspired by current favorite Zelda games like Skyward Sword and Breath of the Wild, as well as wildly popular classics like Ocarina of Time and A Link to the Past.
Presented in five movements with multimedia accompaniment, the concert incorporates Nintendo composer Koji Kondo's original score. It's ideal aural accompaniment, as hero Link faces an ongoing series of other-worldly encounters, heroic rescues and various obstacles thrown in his way while attempting to rescue Princess Zelda.
It's that kind of adventure that has made The Legend of Zelda so successful for 30 years. Its 19 instalments have sold nearly 80 million copies, making it one of Nintendo's most successful game series. Consequently, this sweeping symphonic production provides the ultimate nod to both Nintendo nerds and those who appreciate epic encounters. You can even take your tunic. (Lee Zimmerman)
The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses @ Abravanel Hall, 123 W. South Temple, Dec. 30, 8 p.m., $35-$95, artsaltlake.org
- Suzy Oliveira
Understandably, we think of "catfishing"—online interactions in which one of the parties is pretending to be something he or she is not—as a phenomenon of the Internet Age, a uniquely 21st-century form of deception, whether well-intentioned or malevolent. But all it takes is a glance at a 70-year-old play to understand that there have always been storytelling possibilities in people using long-distance communication methods to create an entirely new persona.
Norman Krasna's Dear Ruth finds a farcical premise in a pen-pal correspondence in 1944 between an overseas soldier, Lt. Bill Seacroft, and 22-year-old Ruth. Back stateside on a two-day leave, Bill shows up at Ruth's home to propose to the girl he has fallen in love with through their exchange of letters. There are just a few small complications: First, the letters to Bill weren't written by Ruth, but by her 16-year-old sister, Miriam, who sent Ruth's picture with her letters as part of an attempt to keep soldiers' morale up. Second, the real Ruth already has a fiancé. And third, Ruth would rather avoid an embarrassing scene by pretending to go along with the relationship, waiting to "break up" with Bill until he returns to Europe.
The successful Broadway play was adapted as a 1947 film starring William Holden, and was popular enough that it even inspired a pair of sequels. But audiences for the Hale Center's family-friendly productions can simply enjoy this version of the story, and realize that the more things change, the more they stay the same. (SR)
Dear Ruth @ Hale Center Theater Orem, 225 W. 400 North, Orem, 801-226-8600, Jan. 3-Feb. 3, Tuesday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; 3 p.m. Saturday matinees, $14-$24, haletheater.org
- Urban Arts Gallery
Urban Arts Gallery: The Video Game Show
Video games—despite being a regular activity for more than 150 million Americans annually, according to a 2015 Entertainment Software Association report—still find themselves often on the outside looking in when people talk about art forms. Urban Arts Gallery shows some love to the imagination and creative power behind these games with a group show to kick off 2018.
"[Video games] have produced some of the most iconic images and characters on the planet, and represent a large portion of the media we consume," Urban Arts Gallery's Scott Tuckfield says. "[They] have become as integral a part of our cultural existence as movies or books, and many artists are inspired to create works based on the games they love."
While many of the images are traditional illustrations and paintings, other featured pieces think outside the (X)box. Steven Rasmussen's video installation finds its inspiration in the work of "Father of the Video Game" Ralph H. Baer, while Joshua Baldi has custom-painted a classic arcade cabinet with images from old and new games. Even old-school cross-stitching—by Camron Park and Virginia May—is represented among the artistic media transformed into celebrations of video gaming. The ongoing dedication of Urban Arts Gallery to respecting all kinds of art finds its latest manifestation in suggesting that Halo's Master Chief (by Brandon Donovan, pictured) is just as deserving of space on a gallery wall as the old masters. (SR)
The Video Game Show @ Urban Arts Gallery, 137 S. Rio Grande St., 801-230-0820, Jan. 3-Feb. 4, Tuesday-Saturday, 12-8 p.m.; Sunday, 12-6 p.m., free, urbanartsgallery.org