Sunday, December 7, 2008

Friends with benefits

As Flavorpill editor Audrey Mast observes in the weekly email blast that will hit your inbox on Tuesday (you do subscribe to Flavorpill Chicago, don't you?), 'tis the season to receive donation entreaties from every charity you've ever supported.

Those piles of bulk-rate mail are a reminder of the ongoing needs of worthy causes around us. I'm doing my part, continuing my annual tradition of sharing my largesse with the local street urchins in my neighborhood. Heck, it's only December 7th and I'm almost out of nickels.

Writing a check or breaking out a Visa card is well and good, but there are more festive ways to help out a deserving cause. In fact, two of them are going on this week in Chicago.

On Tuesday, the Second City comedy theater presents "The Second City That Never Sleeps: Letters To Santa," its seventh annual holiday benefit. Proceeds go to buy holiday toys for needy Chicago children. The best part is, they pick up at the Chicago post office and then answer actual letters that kids have written to Santa, helping the big guy deliver Christmas presents for the tykes who need them most. If that doesn't warm your heart, leave my blog at once and never come back.

Audience members will get something in their stockings too, in addition to the good feeling of helping out. As ever, this show is a 24-hour marathon of comedy, music, tomfoolery and surprise guests, well worth the price of admission charity or no charity. It all starts Tuesday at 9pm.

My picks are the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater's ASSSSCAT show, a dependably first-rate exercise in long-form improvisation Tuesday at 10pm, and the sweetly raucous rock of The Breeders Wednesday at 4pm. Wilco's Jeff Tweedy puts a button on the long day's journey into night with a special solo set Wednesday at 9pm. My Flavorpill preview is here.

You've got to choose between your Illinois-bred rock icons, for while Belleville native Tweedy is tuning his guitar in Pipers Alley, the pride of Rockford will take the stage at the Vic Theater. It's the 93XRT Holiday Concert for the Kids, hits courtesy of everyone's favorite class clowns, Cheap Trick. My Flavorpill preview (yes, Virginia, I wrote one) is here.

Whether you make these shows or not, why not share the holiday cheer by giving generously to a worthwhile charity or two, and have yourself a merry little Christmas while you're at it.

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