Short List: December 31 - January 8 | This Week's Top Events | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Short List: December 31 - January 8

The Second City jokes, N'at's All Folks!; muralists say, "Don't Let Them Get Away With Murder"; animator Benny Zelkowicz talks about his new children's book.


SPOTLIGHT: Tue., Jan. 6 — Comedy

Our abiding fascination with how Pittsburgh ranks on numbered lists suggests we're obsessed with what outsiders think of us. A fresh take arrives Jan. 6-10, when The Second City makes its annual stop at Pittsburgh Public Theater with six performances of N'at's All Folks! The evening of comedy and songs is the troupe's first Pittsburgh-specific show since 2008. The program includes Second City's trademark improv, plus archival sketches from the vaults of the storied company that trained talents like Stephen Colbert, Bill Murray and Gilda Radner. This time, says performer Liz Reuss in a phone interview, the sketches include one that a then-unknown Tina Fey helped originate, back in the 1990s. Reuss says the Pittsburgh content includes a song about Pittsburgh winters, and fun with local language quirks. (She now knows what "yinz" means.) The troupe (pictured) — one of three touring Second City units — also includes Marlena Rodriguez, Alan Linic, Lisa Beasley, John Thibodeaux, Scott Morehead and music director and onstage accompanist Dane Halvorson. Reuss, a Louisville native, is a freelance journalist who began studying at Second City as a writer, and got hooked on performing, too. She's been touring for a year. "This is probably the most city-specific show we've done in my time [here]," she says. "I'm really excited to see how it goes." Bill O'Driscoll Tue., Jan. 6-Sat., Jan. 10. 621 Penn Ave., Downtown. $15.75-50. 412-316-1600 or

Thu., Jan. 1 — Festival

Hangovers aside, Pittsburgh's sloppiest New Year's Day tradition has to be Messfest. For the eighth year running (down your arm), Carnegie Science Center offers a one-day-only set of hands-on activities centered on all things slimy, sticky and gooey — and substances like oobleck, which lives somewhere between solid and liquid states. Visitors are also invited to engineer a container for raw eggs that will keep them from breaking during the Egg Drop; do finger-painting; make their own sidewalk chalk; and watch high-energy (and possibly icky) theater programs like "It's Alimentary, Watson" and "Kaboom!" Old clothes are advised; clean-up is on the Science Center. Bill O'Driscoll 10 a.m.-5 p.m. One Allegheny Ave., North Side. Free with regular admission ($11.95-19.95). 412-237-3400 or

Fri., Jan. 2 — Food

Honestly, by today, you've already given up the eat-kale resolution, so hop on board Pittsburgh Tours and More's The Flavor of Pittsburgh Food Tour: Pittsburgh's Popular Food Culture. Cuisine d'Burgh is on the national radar, and this three-hour tour will visit iconic local eateries, as seen on TV (Man vs. Food; Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives) and profiled in magazines. You're bound to get thirsty, so tomorrow, check out the PA Brew Tours: Pittsburgh Brewery Tours. You'll be safely conveyed to three breweries and dispensaries, where a guide will provide information while you "study" craft-beer samples. There's even a cooler to store your purchased beverages. Al Hoff Food: 10 a.m. (starts at PPG Place; $80). Beer: 11:30 a.m. Sat. Jan. 3 (starts at Beer Hive, Strip District; $55). Tours repeat throughout the year. 412-323-4709 or

Fri., Jan. 2 — Comedy

If tasked with describing Donnell Rawlings' performance style in just a few words, "shot out of a cannon" quickly comes to mind. Formerly a supporting player on the critically acclaimed Chappelle's Show, Rawlings has spent more than a decade honing his craft as a standup comedian. Like this bit on civil rights: "All them dogs that bit them motherfuckers on them marches? ... I'd have been like, ‘I ain't marching today, this dog just bit the shit out of me, King. I'll follow you on Twitter, but I ain't marching, man!'" His shows at the Pittsburgh Improv, at the Waterfront, this week continue through Sunday. Charlie Deitch 8 and 10:30 p.m. Also, 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Sat., Jan. 3, and 7 p.m. Sun., Jan. 4. 166 E. Bridge St., Homestead. $20. 412-462-5233 or

Sat., Jan. 3 — Music

Following its successful inaugural performance last year, Voces Solis is back at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall. The large vocal ensemble, an offshoot of The Summer Singers choral group, offers another free Yuletide Concert. The hour-long show ranges from a selection from Bach's "Magnificat" to songs from the American choral tradition and a contemporary composition by Abbie Betinis. And because you probably haven't had enough to eat lately, the afternoon show is followed by a dessert reception. BO 2 p.m. 300 Beechwood Ave., Carnegie. Free. 412-276-3456 or

click to enlarge Don't let them get away with murder
Photo courtesy of Paradise Gray / 1 Hood Media

Sat., Jan. 3 — Art

In 1964, Andy Warhol's World's Fair mural based on FBI mugshots, "The 13 Most Wanted Men," was painted over to prevent controversy; the Andy Warhol Museum exhibit about the incident is reviewed elsewhere in this issue. Tonight, the museum hosts the unveiling of "Don't Let Them Get Away With Murder," a new mural by the visiting artists of 1Hood in collaboration with Artists Image Resource and Westinghouse High School students. Following the police-shooting deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and others, the mural comments on media representation of young black men. This new "Most Wanted Men" is the centerpiece of a free after-hours program blending art, art-making activities, social justice and food, and includes performances by Jasiri X, Idasa Tariq and Blak Rapp M.A.D.U.S.A. BO 5-8 p.m. 117 Sandusky St., North Side. Free. 412-237-8300 or

Sun., Jan. 4 — Words

While still a student at Mount Lebanon High School, Benny Zelkowicz took some classes at Pittsburgh Filmmakers. In college, his love of film — especially animation —won out over his neuroscience studies. Zelkowicz went on to big things, including animated series like Lunar Jim; an Emmy for the Cartoon Network's Robot Chicken; and even the end-credits stop-action sequence in The Lego Movie. This year, Zelkowicz branched out yet again when he and old college pal Cam Baity published their co-written children's book The First Book of Ore The Foundry's Edge (Disney-Hyperion). The story is set in a half-retro, half-high-tech alternate universe where a young girl and her friend find themselves in an adventure "down the rabbit hole," as Zelkowicz says in a phone interview, to a fantastic world where metal is alive. Compared to filmmaking, he says, "Writing gave us an opportunity to tell a story as big as we wanted to tell." The book, the first in a planned trilogy, has gotten positive reviews. Today, Los Angeles-based Zelkowicz returns to Pittsburgh for a talk and signing at the Mount Lebanon Public Library. BO 2 p.m. 16 Castle Shannon Blvd., Mount Lebanon. Free. 412-531-1912

click to enlarge Gia T Bodiography
Photo courtesy of Renee Rosensteel

Sun., Jan. 4 — Dance

Gia T Presents begins its 2015 season with a studio performance featuring three new short works by three different choreographers. The program, at The Bodiography Center for Movement, spotlights Wendell Cooper (a.k.a. Mx. Oops), from New York City, who will incorporate contemporary urban dance, rap and video projection as he performs tracks from his forthcoming album EXILE, which is inspired by the science fiction of Octavia Butler. Pittsburgh-based Gia Cacalano performs "Recollections of a Future Lullaby," an improvised dance in collaboration with musician and composer Ricardo Iamuuri. And Amsterdam-based Vincent Cacialano offers "Crescendo," whose choreography and composition are derived from "four specific mind and body states." BO 6:30 p.m. 5824 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill. $15 (includes light refreshments). RSVP at [email protected].

Tue., Jan. 6 — Class

Artists, as a group, aren't known for financial acuity, and there's something to the stereotype: As the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council points out, being an artist is itself a full-time job, one that often doesn't leave time for scouring the books. GPAC wants to help with Art Cents: Accounting for Artists. The 90-minute class is led by Katie Bowie, whose Bowie & Co. is an alternative accounting firm specializing in artists, creative organizations, startups and the like. Tonight's session covers things like identifying what type of business you have, prepping for tax filings and analyzing your business operations. BO 6-7:30 p.m. 810 Penn Ave., Downtown. $30.

Thu., Jan. 8 — Dance

Those Dancing With the Stars types don't just live on your TV. A few of them have embarked on a seven-week national tour that hits the Benedum Center tonight. Dancing With the Stars: Live! features names like Mark Ballas, Witney Carson, Valentin Chmerkovsky, Emma Slater, Kym Johnson, Leo Motsepe and Sasha Farber. The glitzy 90-minute program features both brand-new numbers and recreations of faves from the ABC show. The Pittsburgh stop is presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. BO 8 p.m. 719 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $50-85. 412-456-6666 or