What can you say about Leslie Jones that she hasnít already said much better herself? The Saturday Night Live veteran has made the most of her transition from writer to regular, from starring in the 2016 all-female remake of Ghostbusters to stints covering the Olympics for NBC.
Even Twitter trolls who have launched mean-spirited attacks only enhanced her visibility and revealed her grace. While more than capable of defending herself, Jones has lamented that the Internet has reduced spoken conversation, with toxic results.
"This honestly is a result of our society being an unhealthy society," she said in June.
Catch her if you can Friday through Sunday at Tampa Improv, 1600 E Eighth Ave., Tampa. As of press time, several shows were sold out; remaining tickets $50. (813) 864-4000. For showtimes, go to improvtampa.com.
Rene Bray, top, has turned an unlikely combination of traits ó Southern gentility, clean humor and spice ó into a long career in comedy. How else does the same person open for the Chippendale Dancers, Billy Ray Cyrus, Barry White and the Red Hot Chili Peppers? Bray headlines a trio of comics the Palladium is calling Girls Night Out.
Joining her will be Trish Keating, middle, a theater teacher who has worked in clubs across the country, as well as in television and film; and Catherine Maloney, bottom, who can riff on motherhood and financial stress while keeping the mood light. 8 p.m. Friday at the Palladiumís Side Door Cabaret, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $15 in advance, $20 day of show, $30 reserved. (727) 822-3590. mypalladium.org.
One of the darker plays youíre likely to see in any theater closes this weekend at Carrollwood Players. íNight, Mother, by Marsha Norman, is not your standard Guys and Dolls; No Sex Please, Weíre British; A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum kind of community theater evening.
The two-character play, directed by Beth Behner, narrates the inner struggle of a recently divorced epileptic woman, Jessie (Victoria Majors), who has moved in with her elderly mother, Thelma. A few minutes into the show, said MaryKay Cyrus, who plays Thelma, "Jessie tells me she is going to kill herself that night. I spend the rest of the play trying to talk her out of it. There are moments where Iím sad and where Iím pleading and where Iím yelling and screaming."
Cyrus called the experience both "rather exhausting" and exhilarating, and said itís not all about darkness.
"There are a few little places the playwright has (material) in there to get a chuckle," she said. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Carrollwood Players Theater, 4333 Gunn Highway, Tampa. $10. (813) 265-4000. carrollwoodplayers.org.
For something different, enjoy dinner and chamber music by the Ibis Quartet. Violinists Rebecca Zapen and Julie Tollen, violist Lauren Collier and cellist Ruth Kern will play between three food courses prepared by the head chef of Spice Routes Global Soul Food Cafe. Edibles include a watermelon gazpacho, assorted tapas and desserts. In between, the recently formed Ibis will play selected movements by Dvorak, Mozart and Brahms. 7 p.m. Friday at the Center for the Arts, First Unity Spiritual Campus, 460 46th Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $30, includes dinner and concert. (727) 527-2222. firstunity.org.
Young people who want to land in a good performing arts program, College Bound ó Figuring It Out is worth a listen. This hourlong presentation shows students interested in theater, music and dance programs how to navigate their choices in colleges, how to prepare a winning application and nail that entrance audition. 7 p.m. Thursday at the Patel Conservatory, David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. Free. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.