Short List: June 30 - July 7 | Featured Events | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

"Father's Day makes me wish I could talk to my Dad just one more time," Anthony Jeselnik tweeted last week, "instead of all the time." Jeselnik, born and raised in Upper St. Clair, returns to the Burgh for six shows at the Pittsburgh Improv this weekend, his first headlining gig in his hometown. "It's awesome," he says by phone. "July Fourth can be a slow weekend for comedy, but I didn't care about the dates." After nine years in comedy, Jeselnik, who lives in Los Angeles, is gathering the kind of audience few ever achieve. He killed at the Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump, and his first album, Shakespeare, was named No. 1 Comedy Album of 2010 by Punchline Magazine. Why "Shakespeare"? "It sounded arrogant, and that's perfect." Arrogance keynotes Jeselnik's comedy. He often prefaces a joke by saying, "This next joke is perfect," or tells the audience when they should have laughed. "I embrace the arrogance. I can blame the crowd if a joke dies, and they sometimes believe me." His trademark is darkly over-the-top one-liners, the kind that make you cringe and unwillingly guffaw. "I just accidentally hit a kid with my car," he says in his characteristic slow, deep voice. "It wasn't serious, though. Nobody saw me." Brendan Sullivan Thu., June 30-Sun., July 3. 166 E. Bridge St., W. Homestead. $17-20. 412-462-5233 or

click to enlarge Art by Ashley Andrykovitch
Art by Ashley Andrykovitch

Fri., July 1 -- Art

As art crawls go, for grassroots variety you can't beat Unblurred, the monthly Penn Avenue showcase. Tonight, watch glassworkers at Pittsburgh Glass Center's Hot Jam; see how the new Mr. Roboto Project music-and-art space is progressing; and survey community-minded art project Colorize the Urban Landscape, at Assemble. Other shows opening include: Ariela Stief's large-scale sculptures, at Garfield Artworks; Ashley Andrykovitch's paintings, at Imagebox; and paintings by storied local artist Richard Rappaport, at the International Children's Art Gallery. Bill O'Driscoll Most venues open at 6 or 7 p.m. 4100-5100 Penn Ave., Bloomfield/Friendship/Garfield. Free.


Fri., July 1 -- Music

Daphne Alderson might be Pittsburgh's most versatile vocalist. Who else has performed with Pittsburgh Opera and at Club Café; specialized in cabaret but also sung chamber works; and assembled and performed evening-length tributes to the music of Edith Piaf, Buddy Holly and Oscar Hammerstein? Tonight, the recording artist and Seton Hill University voice instructor plays First Fridays at the Frick, the monthly summer series on the lawn of the Frick Art & Historical Center. Bring a picnic (or buy one at the Café at the Frick) and hear this eclectic contralto and her five-man band, including pianist Douglas Levine and guitarist John Marcinizyn. Bill O'Driscoll 7 p.m. 7227 Reynolds St., Point Breeze. Suggested donation: $5. 412-371-0600 or


Sat., July 2 -- Festival

Powerboats, competitive water-skiers, fireworks, "extreme skydivers" -- the EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta returns to Point State Park and its watery environs. While live music and familiar favorites like the Anything That Floats race, dragon-boat races and a bass-fishing tourney are also back, new wrinkles include nightly shows by the acrobatic Canadian troupe Circus Orange. Then there's the work of "World Champion Sand Sculptor" Thomas Koet and friends, who will adorn Point State Park with a giant mystery sculpture made from 150 tons of sand -- enough for a small beach. Bill O'Driscoll Noon-9:30 p.m. Continues through Mon., July 4. Downtown and North Side. Free.


Sat., July 2 -- Music

How often do you hear the phrase "adult bird sound workshop with Butoh movement"? But that's the point of an ongoing series of 20 workshops (some of them actually for kids). Experimental musician Michael Pestel, local musician Ben Opie, famed Butoh dancer Taketeru Kudo and performance artist Catherina De Re are helping participants study bird sound and movement, then they all perform today, at the National Aviary, and on July 9, at the Mattress Factory. The adult group is called the Big Experimental Bird Orchestra of Pittsburgh (BEBOP); the junior division is the Kids Incredibly Daring Bird Orchestra of Pittsburgh. Bill O'Driscoll BEBOP and KIDBOP: 11 a.m. (700Arch St., North Side; 412-258-9439). July 9: 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. (500 Sampsonia Way, North Side; 412-231-3169). Free with regular admission.

click to enlarge Thomas Hong and the Pittsburgh Symphony
Thomas Hong and the Pittsburgh Symphony

Sat., July 2 -- Music

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's season is officially over, but following its big Three Rivers Arts Festival show, it can't resist giving a couple more free concerts. Tonight, the PSO takes to South Park to play a mixture of staples and lesser-known works, including Smetana's "The Moldau" and "A Symphonic Portrait of Irving Berlin," and conclude with the always-loud "1812 Overture." Tomorrow, the orchestra visits Hartwood Acres for a rare viola concerto and symphony by Dvorak. PSO assistant conductor Thomas Hong leads both shows. Brendan Sullivan 8 p.m. (South Park). Also: 8:15 p.m. Sun., July 3 (Hartwood Acres, Hampton Township). Free. 412-392-4900 or

Photo courtesy of Mike Drzal

Sat., July 2 -- Words

Dilruba Ahmed claims roots in Bangladesh -- but also in Pittsburgh (she studied at Pitt) and Ohio. Her various homes are among the locales reflected in Dhaka Dust, her Bakeless Literary Prize-winning poetry collection, new on Graywolf Press. The Swarthmore, Pa.-based editor and educator visits Fuel & Fuddle tonight for a free evening also featuring: local poet and writer Lori Jakiela (whose new collection is The Mill Hunk's Daughter Meets the Queen of Sky); Pitt instructor and Kenyon Review fiction editor Geeta Kothari; and poet RJ Gibson. Emily Rodgers supplies live music. Bill O'Driscoll 8 p.m. 212 Oakland Ave., Oakland. Free.


Sun., July 3 -- Outdoors

Western Pennsylvania exists as we know it thanks to geology: the veins of coal, the river valleys that supplied pig iron to the mills. Laurel Caverns, the state's biggest cave, gives us a chance to really explore that geology. Today, Venture Outdoors leads a tour through the caverns, allowing visitors to experience first-hand their natural beauty. It's dirty work -- everyone should wear clothes they don't mind messing up -- but the caves stay consistently cool throughout the summer. Ages 12 and up. Brendan Sullivan 9 a.m. Laurel Caverns, Farmington, Pa. $36. 412-255-0564 or

Sun., July 3 -- FILM

What could be more terrifying than discovering that some outside force was turning all your friends and neighbors into emotionless automatons? And worse, what if you were the only one that could see it happening? That's the premise of Don Siegel's 1956 sci-fi thriller Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which doubles as a classic text of Cold War paranoia. Snicker if you must, then count up how many "unseen enemies" we're expending energy on these days. Screens as part of Pittsburgh Filmmakers' Sunday-night series of old favorites, at Regent Square Theater. Al Hoff 8 p.m. 1035 S. Braddock Ave., Edgewood. $8. 412-682-4111 or

Tue., July 5 -- Dance

In 2002, the founders of Love 146 went undercover to witness child sex-trafficking, but were powerless to do anything about it. Tonight, with a contemporary-dance production by Canadian performer Heather Clark at the New Hazlett Theater, the international human-rights group has a chance to bear witness in Pittsburgh. The organization takes its name from the identifying number 146 worn by a girl waiting to be picked by a predator in South East Asia; she has become the group's guiding light, representing the millions still enslaved. The event is free, but donations benefit the Pittsburgh-based Project to End Human Trafficking. Brendan Sullivan 6:30 p.m. 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side. 412-320-4610 or

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