Julie Taymor’s jaw-dropping, puppet-filled production of Disney's The Lion King will visit the Paramount in its Circle of Life from Dec 13–Jan 6. Deen van

Below, we've rounded up all of our critics' performance picks for the season, like the Pacific Northwest Ballet's The Sleeping Beauty, Conan O’Brien, and Veils. Plus, find a complete list of theater, dance, and comedy events in Seattle this winter on our Things To Do calendar, or check out the rest of our critics' picks from Seattle Art and Performance.


Jump to: Theater | Musical Theater | Children's Theater | Dance | Drag | Cabaret & Burlesque | Circus & Acrobatics | Variety | Performance Art | Live Podcasts & Web Shows | Comedy | Stand-up | Improv

Stay in the know! Get all this and more on the free Stranger Things To Do mobile app (available for iOS and Android), or delivered to your inbox.

THEATER

DEC 7–29
Murder on the Mistletoe Express Cafe Nordo’s perennial Christmas heroine, Becky-June Beasley-Jones (last seen in 2017’s A View from Santa’s Lap). Here, Becky-June races home for “Grandma’s last Christmas,” but all sorts of sinister events disrupt the trip on the Mistletoe Express. Seattle treasure Scot Augustson (Penguins) writes and directs, and Butch Alice stars as Becky-June. As with Nordo’s other productions, the show will be accompanied by a four-course meal. (Cafe Nordo)

DEC 14–24
Sugar Plum Gary A misanthropic disposition combined with a strong satanist worldview distinguishes Sugar Plum Gary from other yuletide figures. Every year around this time, “somewhat beloved storyteller and comedian” Emmett Montgomery slips into a red onesie and takes the stage to give audience members completely unsolicited advice on how to best navigate the season, and it’s often pretty funny if you’re into dark, absurd humor. RICH SMITH (18th & Union)

THROUGH SAT DEC 15
The Twilight Zone: Live! In sixth grade, I was in a short school production of “To Serve Man” (“It’s a cookbook!”). I played one of the aliens. That particular Twilight Zone episode is also adapted for the stage in Theater Schmeater’s traditional holiday presentation, which also features adaptations of “The Shelter,” “Death’s Head Revisited,” and “The Changing of the Guard.” Rachel Delmar directs. LEILANI POLK (Theater Schmeater)

THROUGH SUN DEC 16
Our Great Tchaikovsky Hershey Felder embodied Irving Berlin last year to the measured praise of Sean Nelson, who lightly criticized the added schmaltz while calling Felder “an astonishingly gifted vocalist and pianist.” Here, Felder returns as the tragic composer of Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, in another exploration of the musically creative mind. (Seattle Repertory Theatre)

Veils Lia Sima Fakhouri directs Tom Coash’s play about a black American Muslim who, during a study-abroad trip to Cairo, starts a blog about the practice of veiling with a non-veiled Egyptian woman. Protests related to the coming Arab Spring, different approaches to feminism, and pretty shocking acts of violence—one of the characters is forced to take a “virginity test”—strains the burgeoning friendship and the hopes of finding common ground. RICH SMITH (West of Lenin)

SAT DEC 22
A Very Didion Christmas Like baby Jesus, Joan Didion is immortal. In this hilarious and highly inappropriate one-act, audiences will get to meet not one but two incarnations of her immortal spirit. Created and performed by Christopher Frizzelle, print editor of The Stranger, and Sarah Paul Ocampo, co-founder of the Typing Explosion, this show features the literary legend reflecting on hanging out in the afterlife with Ernest Hemingway and George Orwell. (Hugo House)

THROUGH FRI DEC 28
A Christmas Carol ACT Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol is a dependable, simple pleasure, with just enough variation to warrant returning year after year. For the 43rd (!) edition, Kurt Beattie will direct and Ian Bell and David Pichette will alternate as Scrooge. (ACT Theatre)

THROUGH SUN DEC 30
My Ántonia Look, Willa Cather is a literary lesbian prairie goddess and My Ántonia is one of her most famous masterpieces. Published in 1918, My Ántonia is a story of an orphaned boy from Virginia who befriends a bunch of bohemian immigrants in Nebraska. The play version of the novel is lyrical, pretty, and very American in a way that will make even a depressed, sapphire-blue liberal cry patriotic tears. CHASE BURNS (Center Theatre)

JAN 4–12
14/48: The World's Quickest Theatre Festival True to its name, the 14/48 Festival turns around 14 brand-new, theme-based, 10-minute plays in two days. The high-pressure nature of the event produces an evening of surprising theater for audiences. Though there are always a few experiments that don’t quite come together, it’s endlessly fascinating to see the way one theme filters through the minds of several very different theater artists. Expect shit to get weird. RICH SMITH (ACT Theatre)

JAN 7–13
Sovereign: Black Queer One Womyn Show Festival This year, the multidisciplinary festival of solo performances features hot burlesque from Briq House, equally hot music from Patience Sings, and challenging, humorous, and kinda sad performance art from Tyisha Nedd. Hopefully Aishe Keita will show off her classical chops with a powerful monologue. And while I do not normally endorse “healing sound artists,” I can testify to the recuperative qualities of Naa Akua’s performances. Akua will likely offer up some suggestions on healing a queer black soul from her new solo show, Akwaaba. RICH SMITH (18th & Union)

JAN 11–28
B Two proponents of non-violent anarchy, Alejandra and Marcela, learn dangerous things from a man who knows how to make bombs, Jose. The reliably daring Washington Ensemble Theatre troupe will produce Guillermo Calderón’s 2017 play. Jay O’Leary (who previously staged Welcome to Arroyo’s) will direct. (12th Avenue Arts)

JAN 17–FEB 16
Everybody Strawberry Theatre Workshop’s production of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Pulitzer-shortlisted morality play is cast by lot every night, so no one in the nine-person show knows exactly what role they’ll be playing. As Strawshop points out, that means that there are 720 possible cast configurations every night. It’s a nice element of spontaneity in a drama about the inevitability of death. (12th Avenue Arts)

JAN 30–FEB 17
Uncle Vanya Chekhov’s melancholic play about unrequited love, adultery, boredom, and despair is a boon to actors and a monument of naturalistic literature. Presented by the Seagull Project and ACTLab. (ACT Theatre)

FEB 7–17
140 LBS Local force of theater Sara Porkalob will direct Susan Lieu’s autobiographical solo play about trauma, family, and beauty. When Lieu was a child, her mother died under anesthesia during a routine tummy tuck. This piece reveals how, as an adult, she strove to find out who her deceased parent really was—and sought out the person who killed her. (Theatre Off Jackson)

FEB 8–10
Roger Guenveur Smith: Frederick Douglass Now Roger Guenveur Smith blew the top off my fucking skull when he came through Seattle with his Rodney King solo show. Smith is an incomparably good character actor with an incredible command of language and a jazz-infused storytelling technique I haven’t seen from anyone else on the planet. Frederick Douglass Now is a solo show about the self-liberated abolitionist who is “getting recognized more and more,” the president notices. RICH SMITH (Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute)

FEB 14–MARCH 10
American Junkie In American Junkie, Seattle memoirist Tom Hansen presents his no-bullshit, matter-of-fact account of heroin addiction, self-destruction, and eventual recovery in the 1990s. According to press materials, Jane Jones and Kevin McKeon’s adaptation of his story for the stage will be “a tight, 90-minute ride through Seattle’s music scene during the grunge era.” There’s little doubt Hansen’s story won’t resonate with people living through the current ravages of the opioid crisis. RICH SMITH (Center Theatre)

MARCH 1–31
Romeo + Juliet You know the story, you know the “Wherefore art thou” monologue, but this production will be something new. Organizers write, “ACT is partnering with leaders in the Deaf community to create a production that honors the glorious language of this timeless play and makes it accessible for Deaf and hearing audiences alike.” (ACT Theatre)

MARCH 14–APRIL 7
John A young couple trying to reknit after a cheating incident is haunted by ghosts at their bed-and-breakfast getaway—and the owner of the house has memories of her own. Annie Baker’s play was listed as one of the 10 Best Shows of 2015 by Time and received critical praise all around. (ArtsWest)

MARCH 15–APRIL 28
A Doll's House, Part 2 Nora, in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll House, is arguably *one of most famous female roles in 19th-century theatre*. Every leading ingénue has had her turn playing the “little lark”—even Seattle’s Cherdonna Shinatra recently took on the role. But the ending of the play is famously up for interpretation, and Tony Award-nominee Lucas Hnath’s cheekily-titled A Doll’s House, Part 2 takes on the challenge of picking up where Ibsen concludes. It’s funny, smart, and maybe *the best old play* to come out of the 2010s. CHASE BURNS (Seattle Repertory Theatre)

CHILDREN'S THEATER

MARCH 14–JULY 7
Balloonacy I don’t have children, so I can’t say if babies will like Balloonacy, one of the cutest pieces of theater made for young children in recent years. But I once saw Balloonacy at Minneapolis’s Children’s Theatre Company, and WOW, is it one of the most magical things created for the stage—a wordless, situational comedy about an old man who lives alone and is trying to celebrate his birthday when suddenly, red balloons bust into his apartment to tease and tickle him. It’s basically an allegory for socialism, but for kids. CHASE BURNS (Seattle Children’s Theatre)

MUSICAL THEATER

DEC 13–JAN 6
Disney's The Lion King Julie Taymor’s jaw-dropping, puppet-filled production will visit Seattle in its Circle of Life. Elton John music, Tony-winning direction, treachery, youth, and revenge...the works. (Paramount Theatre)

DEC 19-31
Jamie and the intergalactic Revolution of Planet Rhythmo Negato Jamie, a young woman dealing with gender dysphoria, goes on a pretty wild New Year's ride when she's abducted by aliens and forced to use music to save their world, Rhythmo Negato. Featuring audience participation, a play-within-a-play, dancers from the Cabiri, music by Molly Hardin and the Global Musicians Fellowship, and a special party for New Year's Eve. Catch it before it goes to Broadway. (Erickson Theatre Off Broadway)

THROUGH SUN DEC 23
A Very Die Hard Christmas Marxiano Productions will stage a merry holiday musical starring top-notch sketch comedy outfit the Habit, which promises to pepper the rip-roaring action with songs, jokes, and more. (Seattle Public Theater)

THROUGH SUN DEC 30
Annie This production of the classic musical is being directed by Billie Wildrick (of the 5th Avenue’s recent Pajama Game), and she’s joined by an all-female creative team. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE (The 5th Avenue Theatre)

In the Heights Every decade, a musical comes around that reminds the general public that musicals can be popular, cool, and mainstream. The ’80s had A Chorus Line, the ’90s had Rent, the early ’00s had Wicked, and the teens had Hamilton. But before Lin-Manuel Miranda became a household name for creating Hamilton, he was snatching up trophies and accolades for his other hugely popular musical, In the Heights. CHASE BURNS (Seattle Repertory Theatre)

JAN 17–FEB 24 & MARCH 1–24
I Do! I Do! Get ready to weep nostalgic tears at the Village Theatre’s production of a multiple Tony Award-winning musical by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, which portrays 50 years of a loving marriage. (Jan & Feb: Village Theatre; March: Everett Performing Arts Center)

JAN 23–FEB 2
Dear Evan Hansen All I know about this show is that I very badly want to see it, it won a bunch of Tonys, and it’s about how social media can really screw up people’s lives. I’m so there. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE (Paramount Theatre)

SAT MARCH 9
Monty Python’s Spamalot Eric Idle’s adaptation of the endlessly-quoted film Monty Python and the Holy Grail boasts all the surreal one-liners and ridiculous songs of the original, and then some. If you’re a true fan of the movie, you can probably recite most of the dialogue already, but Spamalot delivers a whole new experience. (Pantages Theater)

MARCH 14–APRIL 21
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time A play-within-a-play adapted from the novel by Mark Haddon. Precocious, non-neuro-typical teenager Christopher sets out to solve the murder of his neighbor’s dog, a crime of which he’s been unjustly accused. But his investigation, which is shaped by unusual fears and abilities, leads him to his own family’s secrets and lies. (Village Theatre)

DANCE

DEC 7-16
Buttcracker IV... The Final Countdown! This festive and raunchy holiday show promises glittery professional dance and holiday satire set to a hair-metal soundtrack. Wade Madsen will play God in this edition, replete with new choreography. (Erickson Theatre Off Broadway)

DEC 13-16
Iolanta
The Spectrum Dance Company and Spectrum school students dance the tale of Iolanta, a princess who has been carefully guarded from awareness of her own blindness, in a workshop production choreographed by Tony- and Bessie-winning Donald Byrd. (Spectrum Studio Theater)

DEC 14–16
Merce 100: Seattle Artists Respond to Merce Merce Cunningham grew up in Centralia, Washington, and rose to become one of the most important choreographers in American history. He fucked with everything, taking what he pleased from modern, classical, and other dance traditions to create something new and often challenging. (He even fucked with the great modernist composer John Cage, who eventually became his spouse. Read their love letters if you get the chance.) Celebrate Cunningham's considerable contribution to the genre (and his 100th birthday) with some of our local talents, including Donald Byrd, Christiana Axelsen, Kate Wallich, Thomas House, Amy J Lambert, Ella Mahler, Daniel Edward Roberts (from the Cunningham Company) with Victoria Watts, and Louis Gervais. Poet Maya Sonenberg, Thunderpussy frontwoman Molly Sides, and others will also be around to offer an artful word or two. RICH SMITH (Velocity Dance Center)

SAT DEC 22
Savion Glover's All Funk'd Up, The Concert Savion Glover is the modern-day boundary-pushing equivalent of Fred Astaire. This program finds the tap dancer with both performance and choreographic chops adding his own tapping percussion to the funky, grooving, horns-escorted tunes of the six-piece live band that accompanies him on stage. Backup dancers included. LEILANI POLK (Moore Theatre)

THROUGH FRI DEC 28
George Balanchine's 'The Nutcracker' If you haven’t seen this Christmas classic since you were a kid, give it a go this year. In 2014, PNB replaced its beloved Maurice Sendak set with one by Ian Falconer, who did the Olivia the Pig books. The new set is gorgeous in a Wes Anderson-y way, and it reflects the genuine weirdness and beauty in the story. I mean, the last 45 minutes of this thing is a Katy Perry video starring dancing desserts and a glittery peacock that moves like a sexy broken river. Bring a pot lozenge. RICH SMITH (McCaw Hall)

JAN 10–12
Alonzo King LINES Ballet: Figures of Speech King’s latest creation meditates on extinct and vanishing languages. With the help of slam poet and linguistic preservation activist Bob Holman, King’s flawlessly graceful dancers will respond physically to the sounds of indigenous poetry. (Meany Center for the Performing Arts)

FRI JAN 18
Seattle International Dance Festival: Winter Mini-Fest Shura Baryshnikov (RI), Gabriel Forestieri (NYC), and Danny Tan (Singapore) will join Seattle’s Khambatta Dance Company for two weekends of “internationally inspired” dance performances. (Erickson Theatre Off Broadway)

JAN 18–26
3 x 3 Choreographer Zoe Scofield was the co-recipient of the 2013 Stranger Genius Award in performance for her inventive, angular, rebellious style. She’ll join the dance company Whim W’him as choreographer for this triptych, alongside Yin Yue, founder of New York’s YY Dance Company, and WW director Olivier Wevers. (Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center)

FEB 1–10
The Sleeping Beauty Ronald Hynd’s adaptation of Marius Petipa’s choreography gracefully brings the story of the dormant lovely to life, accompanied by the classic Tchaikovsky score. Presented by Pacific Northwest Ballet. (McCaw Hall)

FEB 7–9
reSET: Kaitlin McCarthy and Cameo Lethem Washington Ensemble Theatre will generously open its set on off-nights for the reSET program, in which dancers take inspiration from the sets of currently running plays. In this case, Kaitlin McCarthy and Cameo Lethem will perform on the set of B. (12th Avenue Arts)

FEB 16-17
Chop Shop: Bodies of Work
This contemporary dance festival has presented performances from troupes and artists around the world, with the goal of reaching diverse audiences and connecting people of all abilities with dance instruction. The artists this year will be Lauren Horn//Subira vs. Movement Dance Company from Windsor, CT; Javier Padilla & The Movement Playground, Julia Antinozzi, and Margot Gelber & Dancers from New York; the Stone Dance Collective from Seattle and the Eastside; Lydia Relle from Phoenix and Seattle; natalya shoaf from San Francisco; and Julie Crothers from Oakland. (Meydenbauer Center)

FEB 21–23
Mark Morris Dance Group Superb choreographer and Seattle native Mark Morris and company will perform works including Dancing Honeymoon, set to happy '30s and '40s music; Numerator, danced to Lou Harrison's "Varied Trio"; and The Trout, choreographed to Schubert's Trout Quintet. (Meany Center for the Performing Arts)

FRI FEB 22
Company Wayne McGregor New pieces from the 25-year-old British dance company, headed by the world-renowned choreographer of the Royal Ballet, that unveil “the body as archive.” (Moore Theatre)

SAT MARCH 9
Batsheva Dance Company: Venezuela The world-renowned Tel Aviv-based dance company presents director Ohad Naharin’s Venezuela, a meditation in two parts on “the dialogue and conflict between movement and the content it represents.” (Paramount Theatre)

MARCH 15–24
Director's Choice Pacific Northwest Ballet artistic director Peter Boal stages a compelling collection of contemporary ballets that push boundaries and make the form feel alive again. This year, he’s presenting world premieres from American choreographers Robyn Mineko Williams and Matthew Neenan, plus Justin Peck’s In the Countenance of Kings. RICH SMITH (McCaw Hall)

CABARET & BURLESQUE

DEC 7–30
Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker The 13th annual edition of this lascivious holiday show features sugar plum fairies, exciting, clothes-dropping times, and who knows, maybe some “woody” jokes. (Triple Door)

DEC 16–23
Valtesse Versailles Bathe your senses in an evening of old-fashioned, decadent strumpetry with the sensual-chic dancers, contortionists, and aerialists of Valtesse. (The Ruins)

THROUGH SUN JAN 13
Wonderland Wonderland returns! Can Can will transform its venue into a snowy chalet and populate it with teasing beauties. If you just want to see pretty people dancing and eat short stacks or crab beignets with the fam, there’s also a kid-friendly brunch version. (Can Can)

JAN 17–26
Bohemia This “macabre and mystical” cabaret-style musical set in 1890s Prague features the music of Dvorák and Chopin and art nouveau by Alphonse Mucha—plus “beautiful green fairies, aerial numbers, dance, burlesque, classical piano battles, comedy, and original songs.” (Triple Door)

FEB 8–14
The Atomic Bombshells in J'ADORE!: A Burlesque Valentine The saucy vixens of the Atomic Bombshells troupe will break out their brand of busty, feathery, glitzy fun in a show featuring special guests Cherdonna Shinatra and the local dance collective Purple Lemonade. (Triple Door)

Drag

DEC 6–24
Dina Martina Christmas Show If you think you know what drag is, if you think you know what humor is, if you think you know how the English language works, I heartily encourage you to throw your “knowledge” out the window and go see the Dina Martina Christmas Show. There is no one like Dina Martina. And there is no one like her die-hard, inside-joke-obsessed, constantly laughing crowds. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE (ACT Theatre)

DEC 7–30
Homo for the Holidays: Jingle All the Gay! At this point, we can call Homo for the Holidays a Seattle institution. After a decade of successful shows and a dramatic changeover in the cast this spring, Kitten N’ Lou are producing a “new chapter” and bringing the children a revamped gay holiday burlesque wet fever dream. CHASE BURNS (West Hall)

WED DEC 12
A Drag Queen Christmas: The Naughty Tour If your holiday tastes bend toward the naughty, join bona fide queens of VH1's War on the Catwalk for fresh Christmas looks and "adult humor." (Moore Theatre)

SAT DEC 15
A Roast of Londyn Bradshaw WEIRD, hosted by Old Witch, will roast birthday girl Londyn Bradshaw with the help of Cookie Couture, Betty Wetter, Arson Nicki, Siren, and Stacey Starstruck. (Timbre Room)

Thriftease A wise twink once described Mona Real as "what would happen if Divine walked into Fremont Vintage and came out with the whole store." There are few queens who serve thrift-shop fantasy like Mona Real, and Thriftease is Seattle's chance to finger around her closet (and take home the goods). Queer go-go queens and dive-bar divas will model vintage finds, curated by Real, and the audience will bid on the items—everything beginning at an affordable $1. Winning bids help the models strip down to their panties, so prepare for butts. This edition will also feature designs by the fashion duo Femail. CHASE BURNS (Kremwerk)

DEC 21–24
BenDeLaCreme and Jinkx Monsoon: To Jesus, Thanks For Everything! - Jinkx and DeLa BenDeLaCreme and Jinkx Monsoon are like peanut butter and jelly: two great tastes that taste great together. They were on back-to-back seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race, they are both stunning drag queens from Seattle, they are both fiery political commentators, and they’ve never had a proper theatrical production, just the two of them. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE (Neptune Theatre)

FRI DEC 28
MUGZ Americano will host this themeless drag night where styles can be diverse and out-there. Expect jaw-dropping insanity from "monthly mugz" Christian Brown, Michete, SHE, and Uh Oh (The Stranger's own Chase Burns), plus this month's guest, Vincent Milay. (Timbre Room)

WED MARCH 13
An Evening with Katya Katya is a star and universally admired across drag scenes. Her vibe is a mix of Archie McPhee, the movie Contact, and inappropriate things your stepmother told you over the holidays. Do those things not excite you? Then don’t go see Katya. It won’t be a safe space for you. CHASE BURNS (SIFF Cinema Egyptian)

FIRST SATURDAYS
ArtHaus The weirdo drag battles at Art Haus produce the kind of shockingly brilliant, deeply strange, and delightfully incomprehensible performances that I imagine when old timers talk about the off-the-wall art people used to make before the first wave of tech money started “ruining” everything. RICH SMITH (Kremwerk)

SUNDAYS
Mimosas Cabaret The drag diva titaness Mama Tits presides over weekly iterations of Mimosas Cabaret, featuring a short musical, plus songs, comedy, dance, and brunch. (Unicorn)

THURSDAYS
So You Think You Can Drag Live drag competitions are the latest thing in Seattle’s drag scene. This one is the biggest in the city, with a grand prize of $5,000 and a competing cast filled with some of the best queens in town. (Really, when is Irene DuBois going to get on Drag Race?) Watch the girls duke it out each week as they one-up their way to the top. Bring cash for tips and be prepared to scream like hell for your favorite. CHASE BURNS (R Place)

SECOND SATURDAYS
Cucci's Critter Barn Every second Saturday, stylishly alarming Cucci puts on a drag show with local stars the likes of Betty Wetter, Butylene O’Kipple, Jade Dynasty, and Irene Dubois, plus special guests. (Kremwerk)

Rapture Hosted by unidentified frocking object Arson Nicki. Expect to see the avantest of the avant-garde creatures, peculiar performances, and a runway that may double as a portal to the Negaverse. You’ll never forget any of what you see—or to make anyone believe that it happened. Matt Baume (Timbre Room)

FIRST AND THIRD WEDNESDAYS
Heels! Betty Wetter and Butylene O’Kipple’s monthly party features drag queens, video artists, live music, and a “not so typical” go-go dancer. (Cha Cha Lounge)

LAST SATURDAYS
KINGS: A Drag King Show Flipping the traditional drag script, the Kings of Kremwerk will bring royalty to the stage, with a rotating monthly theme. (Kremwerk)

CIRCUS & ACROBATICS

DEC 7-16
Acrobatic Conundrum: The Fig Tree Waltzes The rigorous athletes/dancers of Acrobatic Conundrum will revive The Fig Tree Waltzes with a new score by Finnish composter Petteri Rajanti and choreography by Costa Rica's Jimmy Ortiz. As the company describes it, "strong women hang from lofty trapezes and bearded men spin in hoops wearing skirts" in a drama about human striving. (12th Avenue Arts)

DEC 20–22
Acrobatic Conundrum: Something Stolen Acrobatic Conundrum trades the cheeseball spectacle of circus arts for the more expressive vocabulary of modern dance without sacrificing the athletic rigor associated with the form. RICH SMITH (12th Avenue Arts)

THROUGH APRIL 28
Hollywood & Vine Enjoy a vintage and magic-filled tribute to Tinseltown with the 20-year-old circus troupe Teatro ZinZanni as they open their new home in Woodinville. (Teatro ZinZanni)

VARIETY

DEC 7–23
Scott Shoemaker's War on Christmas Shoemaker (Ms. Pak-Man) and illustrious friends lead a fearless investigation into the War on Christmas. Their weapons: “comedy, songs, dance numbers, amazing videos and partial nudity!” (Re-bar)

DEC 14-15
IRL: Instagram
The Horse in Motion theater troupe will bring you a like-worthy smorgasbord of dance, songs, plays, short films, and art pieces based on the internet, with work by local players like Holly Arsenault, Erin Bednarz, Maggie Lee, and many others. (Rendezvous)

FEB 7–24
Alien/Angel Former Stranger staffer Devin Bannon takes on the persona of Klaus Nomi, the famously strange German falsetto singer who became a celebrity of the underground art scene in New York in the 1980s. (Cafe Nordo)

SAT FEB 9
Venice is Sinking Masquerade Ball 2019 The Seattle Design Center’s annual masquerade ball inspired by the Venetian palaces along the Grand Canal is straight-up majestic, featuring a variety of circus acts, musicians, and actors working tirelessly to set a dreamy mood. (Seattle Design Center)

FEB 13–16
Skeleton Flower Haruko Crow Nishimura directs Degenerate Art Ensemble’s storytelling/video/music/dance event inspired by Nishimura’s mother, who was married to her father by arrangement. Through fairy tales, the ensemble explores the issue of feminine power and ambition and the punishment often meted out to women who dare. (Erickson Theatre Off Broadway)

MARCH 14–APRIL 7
Moisture Festival Devoted to the variety of performers Seattle has fostered over the years, from circus acts to comedians, burlesque dancers to musicians, and jugglers to tap dancers. Variété is the recurring event, with a rotating lineup, and there are also matinée and rather racier late night versions. If you love circus acrobatics, clowning, comedy, and/or sexy dance, you owe it to yourself to go. (Hale’s Palladium)

LAST FRIDAYS
La Petite Mort’s Anthology of Erotic Esoterica See “the darker side of performance art” at this eerie, secretive variety show with circus arts, burlesque, music, and more. (Palace Theatre & Art Bar)

MONDAYS
The Magic Hat Presented by Emmett Montgomery and Friends Five “brilliant humans(?),” ranging from seasoned stand-up comics to sketch performers to audience members, are selected (presumably out of the Magic Hat) throughout the show to perform weekly at this comedy variety show, otherwise described as a “friendship machine that will make the world a better place.” (Rendezvous)

PODCASTS & RADIO

WED JAN 16
Judge John Hodgman This evening will bring you a live version of his eponymous podcast Judge John Hodgman, wherein he rules on important matters like “Is it OK to rifle through the trash for prize coupons in a Canadian pizza parlor?” (Neptune Theatre)

FRI JAN 18
Welcome to Night Vale If you’re part of the “cult” that religiously follows this podcast, you’ll know that’s its subject is not just a “friendly desert community.” Set up like an old-timey live radio play, it will simultaneously soothe your nerves and give you the shivers. AMBER CORTES (Neptune Theatre)

SAT FEB 2
Unorthodox Live: Featuring Dan Savage The Stranger’s own sex advice dealer and editorial director plus other guests will join the popular Jewish-themed podcast for a Valentine’s Day live recording. (Stroum Jewish Community Center)

PERFORMANCE ART

MON JAN 14
Isabella Rossellini: Link Link Circus The iconic film star and activist conceived, codirects, and performs in a loosely structured, vaguely circus-themed theater piece about animals—their thoughts, how they communicate, and the difference between their learned and innate behaviors. Rossellini apparently uses puppets, projections, animated videos, and a darling rescue doggie to help explain her points. LEILANI POLK (Triple Door)

FEB 14–16
Nicola Gunn: Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster Experimental theater artist Gunn’s piece examines the moral repercussions of an angry exchange she had with a man who was throwing rocks at a brooding duck. (On the Boards)

FEB 21–24
Nicola Gunn: Working With Children Gunn dissects “the phenomenon of artists who make work with children for an adult audience” in a combination of theory, fake interview, and fiction. (On the Boards)

FIRST AND THIRD MONDAYS
SH*T GOLD Velocity invites artists from all mediums and genres to contribute up to five minutes of risky material to this very supportive open mic night. (Velocity Dance Center)

COMEDY

DEC 6–22
Crabgrass Productions' 'The Judy Garland Christmas Special' An imaginary dress rehearsal for Judy Garland’s doomed 1963 television Christmas special. There’s terrifically bad singing, comically inept dancing, and Garland shoots Santa dead. PAUL CONSTANT (Theatre Off Jackson)

WED JAN 16
Andy Borowitz The wildly popular New Yorker satirist and founder of the cheeky, National Press Club Award-winning Borowitz Report will help us make sense of “what the @#$ is going on.” (Moore Theatre)

SAT FEB 16
Chain Lynx Fence Stranger arts calendar editor Joule Zelman will host another night of all queer, femme, and nonbinary comedians, adepts of improv, stand-up, and sketch. (The Pocket Theater)

TUESDAYS
Comedy Nest Open Mic The rules of this pro-lady stand-up night: no misogyny, racism, homophobia, hatred, or heckling. Based on the size, quality, and diversity of the crowds it attracts, the rules work. Having so many women onstage and in the crowd makes male comics more mindful of their sets and their audience, while reinforcing what should be obvious: Women can be just as funny (or unfunny) as men. Equality, hurrah! (Rendezvous)

THIRD SUNDAYS
Match Game Contestants will try to guess local celebrities’ answers to silly questions during this beloved, long-running, ribald series run by Richard Rugburn and Miss Moist Towelette. (Re-bar, 7 pm)

STAND-UP

TUES DEC 11
Conan & Friends: An Evening of Stand-Up and Investment Tips Everybody loves Conan O’Brien, even if you weren’t one of the people religiously watching his (rather great) late night talk show on TBS, which aired its last episode in its hour-long format in October, and returns January revamped and a shorter 30 minutes each. Instead of cooling his heels during this three-month hiatus, Conan has embarked on an 18-date tour with a rotating group of comedians, his first time on the road since 2010 (when he was between late-night gigs). On this date, he’ll be delivering his self-deprecating humor joined by Team Coco writer Laurie Kilmartin (she also has a new book out, Dead People Suck), Ron Funches, Moses Storm, and Flula Borg. LEILANI POLK (Moore Theatre)

THURS DEC 13
Jo Koy The Filipino American comic, whom you've seen on Chelsea Lately and The Adam Carolla Show, will bring some giggles to Tacoma. (Emerald Queen Casino)

Gina Yashere The Daily Show’s UK correspondent, Gina Yashere is a high-energy stand-up comedian who gets charmingly bawdy and bodily-function-obsessed amid her wry observations about race. A significant portion of her act derives from her humorous experiences traveling around the world as a black lesbian of English Nigerian descent, an identity that baffles many cultures. As an English native who’s lived in America, Yashere offers many acute, hilarious observations about the two countries, including why she prefers US racism over the more discreet British type. Then there are her dealings with obsessive-compulsive disorder and sleep apnea. She leverages some amazing lemons-into-lemonade alchemy in her sets. DAVE SEGAL (Neptune Theatre)

DEC 13-16
Preacher Lawson Boasting honors like the 2016 Seattle International Comedy Competition top prize and this past season's America's Got Talent top-five finalist, Los Angeles-based comic Preacher Lawson will return to Seattle for an uproarious show. (Parlor Live Comedy Club Bellevue)

SAT JAN 12
Lewis Black: The Joke's on Us Tour The old, white, alpha-male ranter is a familiar figure in comedy, stated Captain Obvious. But Lewis Black might be the paragon of this tradition, perhaps the last such über-curmudgeon we’ll ever need (although probably not, seeing as how the world’s going). Looking like a more brutish Al Franken, Black bellows in a baritone a litany of insults and outrages to his sensibilities. From the most minuscule mundanities to the horror show of politics to the most cosmic injustices, Black pinpoints their infuriating truths—laced with a powerful arsenal of profanity. Incredible catharsis ensues. DAVE SEGAL (Pantages Theater)

Sebastian Maniscalco He’s been doing stand-up since 2005, and he’s pretty good at it. His observations cover a range of topics, from the people who shop at Whole Foods, to the bizarre trusting culture of using Uber (“It’s like hitchhiking with your phone”) and Craigslist (“Strangers are going to come to your home to look at your stuff? What are you, nuts? This is an invitation to get murdered.”). Though he was born in a Chicago suburb and currently lives LA, his perspective is straight-up cynical New Yorker. LEILANI POLK (Moore Theatre)

SAT JAN 19
Adam Conover: Mind Parasites Live! Conover has destroyed your innocence about sex, death, malls, the future, cowboys, pilgrims, loofahs, and a lot more in Adam Ruins Everything, in which he goes about debunking popular misconceptions. (Showbox Sodo)

Iliza A set from Iliza “Elder Millennial” Schlesinger, comedian and author of Girl Logic. (Moore Theatre)

THURS JAN 24
Ophira Eisenberg The host of NPR’s Ask Me Another and Housingworks’ The Moth is also the author of the comedic memoir Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy. (Stroum Jewish Community Center)

FRI FEB 1
Dana Gould Gould is one of the most inventive, brilliant, and respected comics in the business. SEAN NELSON (Triple Door)

FRI FEB 15
Chris D'Elia Reasonably famous for his roles on Undateable and Whitney, Chris D’Elia is a handsome T-shirt- and jeans-wearing schlub whose comedic material’s common as hell, but his animated, on-point gestures, vocal inflections, and impressions amplify his humor into some genuine ROFL bits. DAVE SEGAL (Moore Theatre)

FRI MARCH 1
JB Smoove The actor, writer, and comic has been active since his break on Def Comedy Jam in 1995. He’s since appeared in and written for a range of films and TV shows (you likely know him best as Leon Black in Curb Your Enthusiasm), in addition to writing a book (The Book of Leon: Philosophy of a Fool came out last year), and continuing to deliver sets of his well-honed stand-up. LEILANI POLK (Moore Theatre)

WEDNESDAYS
Joketellers Union A weekly event run by Brett Hamil and Emmett Montgomery, whose keen observational and absurdist humor, political satire, and improv skits have been cracking up crowds in this city and elsewhere for over a decade. The night will showcase local and touring comics—both established and on the rise. DAVE SEGAL (Clock-Out Lounge)

FIRST THURSDAYS
Super Queer Comedy Get a taste of “the best LGBTQ comedy from Seattle and beyond” at this monthly showcase. Aila Slisco hosts. (Palace Theatre & Art Bar)

IMPROV

Fri DEC 21
Book Club: The Holiday Party This improv performance centers on the story of "a group of well-off mid-thirties adults" who have gathered for their monthly book club meeting "in the Nice part of town on a regular night, after their Barre classes and upscale juice crawls." Audience members are asked to bring a book to the performance, which the improvisers will then discuss, with "no self-awareness, an entire bottle of wine, and an absolute lack of critical skills." (The Pocket Theater)

THROUGH SAT DEC 22
Uncle Mike Ruins Christmas Mike Murphy (Uncle Mike, on Saturdays), Graham Downing (Cousin Graham, on Fridays), and Jet City cast members reenact and trample over your fond Christmas memories in a happily vulgar performance. (Jet City Improv)

THROUGH SUN DEC 23
A(n Improvised) Christmas Carol You may think you know the story of A Christmas Carol, but you have no idea. Watch a team of improvisers re-create Dickens's tale based on audience suggestions. (Unexpected Productions' Market Theater)

SUN JAN 27
Middleditch & Schwartz A two-person long-form improv show from Emmy-nominated Thomas Middleditch (Richard Hendricks of Silicon Valley) and Emmy-winning Ben Schwartz (Jean-Ralphio Saperstein on Parks and Recreation). (Moore Theatre)

FEB 20–24
Seattle Festival of Improv Theatre Rejoice in the local, national, and even international improv scenes with potentially more than a hundred performers in a couple dozen groups, all of whom share a love for making up stories onstage. (Various locations)

MARCH 9–APRIL 27
Bechdel Test Inspired by the Bechdel Test, Jet City Improv re-creates films that fail the test, but with a Bechdel-approved twist. You name the movie; they make it pass. KATIE HERZOG (Jet City Improv)

MARCH 14–22
The Matchelorette Directors Kayla Teel and Michael Draper with a cast of improvisers will re-create the seedy/addictive TV show The Bachelor. (Jet City Improv)