- Just for Laughs
You can take the boy out of the Mountain West, but you can't take the Mountain West out of the boy. At least that appears to be true of Ryan Hamilton, an Idaho native who spent several years performing locally at Wiseguys before relocating to New York. His new Netflix special Happy Face finds him riffing heavily off of the juxtaposition between his small-town roots and his current home, like challenging the "If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere" idea of New Yorkers: "I'm from a town of 1,000 people in Idaho, and I don't think New Yorkers could make it there. 'We wandered off looking for gluten-free cupcakes? Where are they?' Three days later, they found a body. Turns out he couldn't make it here."
A Netflix special might be all the indication needed that Hamilton has made it in the world of stand-up comedy, but he's been parlaying his clean-cut, straight-laced stage persona into a successful career for more than a decade. From two semi-finalist stints on the reality program Last Comic Standing to winning at the 2011 Great American Comedy Festival, Hamilton has been delivering the kind of classic observational humor that often earns comparisons to Jerry Seinfeld—albeit an Idaho-bred version of Jerry Seinfeld.
Hamilton returns to his old SLC stomping grounds for a weekend engagement that is likely to find him joking about his background, his non-existent romantic life and, yes, his unusually happy-looking face. He made it here, and it turns out that meant he could make it anywhere. (Scott Renshaw)
Ryan Hamilton @ Wiseguys SLC, 194 S. 400 West, 801-532-5233, Sept. 28, 8 p.m.; Sept. 29-30, 7 p.m. & 9:30 p.m., $20, wiseguyscomedy.com
- Michael Pool
Rob Lowe: Stories I Only Tell My Friends—Live
He's one of the most successful actors in Hollywood, and one of the more prolific. With an Emmy nomination, a Golden Globe, a pair of Screen Actors Guild Award ensemble awards plus two individual nominations and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Rob Lowe boasts a list of credits that include several exceptional television series (The West Wing, Parks and Recreation, The Grinder and currently Code Black and The Lowe Files), but it's work in films that made this former member of the Brat Pack part of the cultural lexicon: The Outsiders, Bad Influence, St. Elmo's Fire, Wayne's World and two Austin Powers sequels among them.
After some 40 years, it's natural that Lowe has plenty of stories and lots of juicy anecdotes as well. His two New York Times bestselling memoirs—Stories I Only Tell My Friends and Love Life—detailed his show-biz career and provided the inspiration for his unique one-man touring show, which includes film clips and a chance for audience Q&A.
So will he discuss his scandals? We seem to recall a 1988 sex tape that involved him, a 16-year-old girl and a young American model. There was also that nasty lawsuit against some of his former employees. He owns up to it all.
"I've learned the importance of admitting when you have made a mistake," Lowe once told People magazine. "And I learned that you must accept the consequences. That's part of being the man that I want to be." (Lee Zimmerman)
Rob Lowe: Stories I Only Tell My Friends—Live @ Eccles Theater, 131 S. Main, 801-355-2787, Sept. 29, 8 p.m., $52.50-$200, live-at-the-eccles.com
- Dean Kaylan
Charles Ross: One Man Star Wars Trilogy
Sometimes, it's the particular circumstances of your life that turn you into a fan of something. For actor Charles Ross, it was moving to a small farm in British Columbia, where TV reception was poor and one of the few things he could watch was a VHS tape of Star Wars—which he did, over and over again.
In 2000, Ross turned that passionate familiarity with the original Star Wars movies into a one-man show, inspired both by his love of the trilogy and, as he describes a familiar problem for a young actor, "by wanting to not be unemployed." The result was One Man Star Wars Trilogy, a fast-paced 90-minute ride through A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi in which Ross does every character voice, provides all the sound effects and even hums the theme music when needed. "I tried it in the cheapest way possible, and it turned out that was the overall selling point," Ross says. "Here I am doing this show of this high-tech movie with zero tech."
Over the more than 15 years Ross has been performing the show—including getting a licensing seal of approval from Lucasfilm—the structure has changed little, though he occasionally adds new jokes or references to the newer Star Wars films. "As I've gotten older, I've realized there's just such a difference between a child who watches something and a fan who watches something," he says. "For me, it's easier to just love what I loved naturally as a kid." (SR)
Charles Ross: One Man Star Wars Trilogy @ Kingsbury Hall, 1395 E. Presidents Circle, 801-581-7100, Sept. 29, 7:30 p.m., $20-$30, tickets.utah.edu
- Scott Renshaw
Equality Utah Allies Dinner with Chelsea Handler
Comedian, author and actor Chelsea Handler isn't unfamiliar with stirring up a little controversy in Utah—not that she's seemed reluctant to stir up controversy wherever she happens to be. In January, Handler served as one of the organizers and de facto celebrity emcee for a Main Street march and rally in Park City, right in the middle of the Sundance Film Festival's busy opening weekend, as a protest coinciding with the inauguration of Donald Trump. On that cold and snowy morning, Utahns got a chance to see that when Handler believes in a cause, she'll show up for it.
This week, Handler returns to the state as the keynote speaker for Equality Utah's annual Allies Dinner, joining a list of notable guests that has in recent years included Neon Trees singer Tyler Glenn, Emmy Award nominee/transgender activist Laverne Cox and feminist icon Gloria Steinem. Handler also is far from the only entertainment on the bill, as a lineup of local singers, dancers and other entertainers are set to energize the festivities.
But the most important reason to attend is to support the work of Equality Utah, which has been fighting for the rights of Utah's LTBTQ community since 2001, including hate-crimes legislation reform, insurance access for transgender Utahns and preventing gender identity or sexual orientation-based harassment in public schools. While a little star power never hurts to help rally the troops, the event is both a chance to celebrate how far we've come, and to remember how much work there is still to be done. (SR)
Equality Utah Allies Dinner with Chelsea Handler @ Salt Palace Convention Center, Sept. 30, 6 p.m., $200 individual ticket, scholarships available, equalityutah.org/allies