Freebie of the week: It’s not fair that artificial intelligence is better at math and science and most intellectual pursuits than us woefully underachieving human types, but does it have to take over comedy, too? That’s the idea behind a new standup comedy series on San Francisco’s Polk Street.
Dubbed “Laugh GPT: Comedians vs. AI Comedy Battle,” the event presented by FuncheapSF pits comedians vs. AI jokes, with audience members left to determine if they can determine which is which. If you suspect that some lame monologues we witness on late-night TV and at awards shows were created by mindless bots, here’s a chance to test that theory in the flesh.
Here’s how “Comedians vs. AI” works. The show features comedians delivering a regular standup routine, during which an AI program creates its own set of jokes based on its interpretation of the performer’s style of comedy. At the conclusion, the comedian delivers five quick jokes, some created by the AI program and some by the comic. The audience gets to pick which joke came from which source. There is no prize for correctly guessing which jokes came from which source, and there is nothing at stake at all, except, of course, the fate of human comedy!
“Laugh GPT” takes place at 7 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and Dec. 29-30 at Mayes Oyster House, 1233 Polk St. Go to sf.funcheap.com and find the event under the “Weekend” banner to see more information and nab free tickets to the event. If they are gone, you can get tickets for $20 (or even cough up $40 for premium seats —and $100 if you want a comedian to work your name into their routine).
All that brass: Some players in the San Francisco Symphony’s brass section are in a jubilant seasonal mood, and they’re going to spread that joy Thursday night in Davies Hall, with conductor Edwin Outwater leading a Holiday Brass concert that begins on the bedecked stage at 7:30 p.m.
Principal trombonist Timothy Higgins is a major contributor, as he has done the arrangements for four numbers he and his cohorts will be performing: the “Troika” section from Sergei Prokofiev’s “Lieutenant Kijé” Suite, the “I Have a Little Dreidel” song, some selections from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” and “Monde Joyeux,” a version of the “Joy to the World” carol Higgins arranged as George Frideric Handel might have done it. Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride” and “Christmas Festival” are on the program, which also includes Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Fantasy on Christmas Carols, Handel’s famed “Hallelujah” Chorus and selections from Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio.”
Tickets, $49-$175, are at sfsymphony.org or (415) 864-6000.
Last chance: They do it every year, and it is wildly popular everywhere. The 100-plus members of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, after having made their annual rounds at the Sydney Goldstein Theatre in San Francisco, the Green Music Center in Rohnert Park and Cal Performances’ Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, are winding up their 2023 Holiday Spectacular tour at the historic Castro Theatre in San Francisco on Christmas Eve.
A beloved tradition that dates back 45 years, the concert is part choral outpouring and part comedy show, beginning with the “Deck the Hall” carol and running through holiday favorites and medleys and various comic sketches.
Sunday’s 5 and 7 p.m. shows are already sold out, but there are seats remaining for the 9 p.m. performance. Find them, at $40, at sfgmc.org.
Chanticleer cheer: As the story goes, Bay Area singer and musicology student Louis A. Botto was looking to address the Bay Area’s relative lack of Renaissance-era choral music performances when he assembled a group of like-minded vocalists in his San Francisco dining room. The resulting choir, Chanticleer, made its debut in San Francisco’s Mission Dolores in June 1978 and has gone on to become one of the Bay Area’s most cherished choral groups, one that has won worldwide acclaim for stirring and glorious vocal performances.
The group has since broadened its repertoire to embrace a wide range of international music styles; commissioned more than 90 premieres from more than 70 composers; and performed a fully staged opera, “Curlew River,” by Benjamin Britten. The group, which trains and tutors more than 5,000 students a year, became a full-time professional choir in 1991, six years before Botto died of AIDS. Despite its full house of admirable accomplishments, Chanticleer might be best loved for its annual holiday concert, a sublime affair that opens with a candle-lit procession and features such fan favorites as Franz Biebl’s “Ave Maria” and a wide array of contemporary and traditional holiday songs. It’s an exquisite evening (or afternoon) of music and reminds one that beauty, love and peace are truly the things to worship this time of year.
Performances are 4 and 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Mission Santa Clara; 6 and 8:30 p.m. Friday at Carmel Mission; and 8 p.m. Saturday at St. Ignatius Church, San Francisco. Tickets are $36-$85 at www.chanticleer.org.
A panto ‘Beauty’: Sometimes, a nice blast of silliness is just what we need for the holidays. (How many times can we lean on the Claymation classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” for support?)
Silliness is what’s on the menu these days at the Presidio Theatre, 99 Moraga Ave., San Francisco, with a bona fide pantomime version of “Sleeping Beauty.” The production is a revival of the 2022 hit by Panto at the Presidio, a troupe that formed three years ago to present farcical, lively, family-friendly theatrical versions of popular fairy tales and classic stories.
And we aren’t joking about things being lively: The production includes magic, live music, clowning, dance and theater, a wild witch named Hernia, a wacky palace cook, a dog that talks, a chorus of singing chickens and dancing ghosts. Booing and hissing at the villains is heartily encouraged. And performers will occasionally toss candy out into the audience. In a nod to today’s more enlightened trends in courtship, the awakening kiss is consensual (no, we haven’t a clue as to how they pull that off).
The 110-minute production runs through Dec. 30 (no performance on Christmas Day). Tickets are $20-$60 at presidiotheatre.org.