The Essential A&E Picks for July 14-21 

Marc Maron, Mad Libs Road Trip and more

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Marc Maron

Is there anything Marc Maron can't do at this point? A decade ago, he was simply a standup comedian, working hard on the road but not getting a lot of attention from major media. After converting a garage into a podcast studio and launching one of the most successful shows in the history of the medium, there's no denying his genius or work ethic.

Having performed on stage for nearly three decades, Maron was a staple of the New York comedy circuit, where he often tore apart the culture at the time and his own relationships. In 2009, he launched the highly successful WTF podcast, where he brought on friends and colleagues to tell stories and discuss their careers. The show's popularity exploded to the point where he has interviewed hundreds of celebrities, and even a sitting president, making his show the No. 1 comedy program on iTunes. The project's success helped launch his IFC show, Maron, which already had three successful seasons and, currently in its fourth, will have its series finale on July 14.

Maron will pop through Salt Lake City for three nights at Wiseguys, taking an extra-observant look at his own life, the relationships he's had over the years (and why he isn't in them anymore) and odd stories about the life he currently leads as one of the most well-known podcasters in the world. And with any luck, we'll end up being a talking point in one of his new episodes. (Gavin Sheehan)
Marc Maron @ Wiseguys Salt Lake City, 194 S. 400 West, 801-532-5233, July 14-16, 7 p.m. & 9:30 p.m., 21+, $25.


Mad Libs Road Trip

Mad Libs—the famous, iconic word game, generated by filling in blanks with your own unintentionally amusing words—has been a staple of family road trips for generations. And now it's going on a road trip of its own, driving across the country in search of America's favorite adjective, and making a stop at The King's English.

For 60 years, the creators of Mad Libs—comedy writers Leonard Stern and Roger Price—have been entertaining children and adults with the unpredictable game of filling in the blanks with adjectives, nouns and verbs, while putting your own humorous spin on the popular party game and travel companion. Currently there are more than 125 million Mad Libs books in print, with titles that range from Star Wars to Scooby-Doo to Aerosmith. In addition, there have been more than 8 million downloads of the app, making it even easier to play the game without lugging the notebook and pencil. It's is a hilarious game with endless combinations—no two end up the same.

The touring Mad Libs neon green and blue van comes complete with a dry-erase surface so fans can add their own personal touches. One of New York's popular standup comedians, Annie Claffey, will be at the helm, and on the lookout for the most creative suggestions along the journey. Fans can follow along on the Mad Libs Facebook and Twitter pages, as there will be giveaways and photo opportunities at every stop. (Aimee L. Cook)
Mad Libs Road Trip @The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, 801-484-9100, July 14, 6 p.m., free.


Elmer Presslee: Unprovoked Collaborations

Elmer Presslee—the artistic alias of William Robbins—is a true local eccentric and outsider artist, in the Robert Williams/Juxtapoz tradition. Stuffed animals, doll appendages and plastic toys, often with googly eyes, commingle in his pop-culture fantasies—or nightmares, depending on your point of view.

His body of work—and "body" is the appropriate word—includes paintings, mixed media and even furniture, though it's hard to imagine using some of them, since the surfaces are riddled with plush dolls you don't want to squish (or maybe you do), plastic elbows or other alarming images. He is probably best known for his mixed media sculptures (for lack of a better term); there is a legend of him leaving a sculpture of a head outside the Koln Cathedral in Germany. He might not have put the "skull" in "sculpture," but he is definitely helping keep it there.

I first encountered Presslee's work in the window of the now-defunct Kayo Gallery on 300 South—a gawking rubber face with tantalizing tentacles sizing me up from the display window—and I was instantly hooked. This recent exhibit takes place a little farther west along 300 South, and God Hates Robots is an ideal place to see his work. Unprovoked Collaborations isn't really a series of collaborations at all, unless perhaps you consider them collaborations between his various aesthetic personalities, or perhaps items of cultural detritus he has appropriated for his warped creative bent. (Brian Staker)
Elmer Presslee: Unprovoked Collaborations @ God Hates Robots, 314 W. 300 South, Ste. 250, July 15-Aug. 12; opening reception July 15, 6-9 p.m.


Neil Simon Festival

The Utah Shakespeare Festival isn't the only theater festival Cedar City hosts this summer. Though not nearly as well-known, the Neil Simon Festival has been almost as consistent since its inception 13 years ago, and it has attempted to be as varied.

Even if Simon's name doesn't immediately ring any bells, you almost certainly know his work. He penned such Broadway classics as The Odd Couple, on which Matthew Perry's current TV series is based, and Barefoot in the Park, in addition to many others. The Simon Festival began taking form in 1997, when Richard Bugg, its founder, started devoting his energies toward planning something that would give the writer the credit Bugg believed he deserved. The festival's had its first run in 2003, and it has missed only one year since.

Four shows are featured in this 12th incarnation, in addition to one preview performance—a Sunday variety show and a reading of a play by a Simon-to-be aspiring playwright. Those shows range from autobiography to musical, and love story to comedy, headlined by Simon's own Brighton Beach Memoirs (pictured) and London Suite, in addition to On Golden Pond and Hank Williams: Lost Highway.

Tickets (individual or season) can be purchased via internet, phone or in-person at the box office on the day of any performance. Learn more about this great playwright as you sit back and enjoy a few of his creations. (Casey Koldewyn)
Neil Simon Festival @ Heritage Center Theater, 105 N. 100 East, Cedar City, 435-267-0194, through Aug. 13, see website for dates, showtimes and tickets.

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