Carlos Mencia makes his living as a comedian, but he might have enjoyed a career as a notable sociologist. Many of his routines, while funny, are actually cogent analyses of cultural trends in American society. Mencia’s observations about racially-based biases are insightful. He explains, for instance, that the fact that he was born in Honduras doesn’t mean that he identifies with all people of Spanish descent. Mencia also lambasts political correctness and suggests that Americans have become overly sensitive. His thoughtful and consistently amusing perspectives lend credibility to his opinions on hot button issues such as illegal immigration.8 p.m. Thursday, 7:45 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. Friday, and 7:45 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. Saturday. Stanford’s Comedy Club, Village West. 913-400-7500. stanfordscomedyclub.com. $15-$45. Kansas City Symphony, André Watts plays Beethoven
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Almost every persistent piano student eventually makes his or her way to Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14, a piece commonly known as the “Moonlight Sonata.” Many pianists even memorize the familiar composition. Almost no one, however, invests the “Moonlight Sonata” with more profound emotional resonance than André Watts. His performances and recordings of the piece are legendary. The pianist will apply his stellar interpretive skills to selections including Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 at Helzberg Hall this weekend. Since becoming one of the brightest stars in classical music in the 1960s, Watts has evolved into one of the form’s most beloved elder statesmen.
A slow but steady changing of the guard seems to be taking place on the social calendars of Kansas City’s movers and shakers. The formal functions long favored by the establishment don’t always appeal to new generations of charity-minded revelers. New types of parties are transforming the ways prominent citizens raise funds for their preferred causes. Saturday’s fashionable function benefiting the Kansas City Care Clinic is billed as “a black and white masquerade.” While traditional formal wear is acceptable, philanthropic participants are encouraged to don less conventional apparel.8 p.m. Saturday. Scottish Rite Temple. 816-777-2787. kccareclinic.org/events/bloomparty. Tickets begin at $95. FC Kansas City vs. Sky Blue
FC Kansas City will open the 2014 season of the National Women’s Soccer League on Saturday at a new home field. The team has relocated from the stadium at Shawnee Mission North to Verizon Wireless Field at Durwood Stadium. FC Kansas City will face New Jersey’s Sky Blue FC, one of the league’s nine teams, at the new site at UMKC. The league debuted last season. FC Kansas City finished in second place. A busy off-season that included the acquisition of prominent athletes including Amy LePeilbet and Sarah Hagen indicates that FC Kansas City intends to build on that initial success.7 p.m. Saturday. Durwood Stadium. 855-4KC-GOAL. fckansascity.com. $14-$50. Rock the Parkway
Public nuisance or benevolent fundraiser? Few charitable causes generate as much ire among non-runners as Rock the Parkway. The annual half-marathon and 5K temporarily make large, heavily trafficked portions of the city impassable. Both races begin and end at 9400 Ward Parkway. The half-marathon extends to Loose Park. Critics of the annual event suggest that the races should be held elsewhere. Advocates maintain that the fundraiser for Union Station’s Science City should be considered a source of civic pride. Thousands of participants will be treated to entertainment, refreshments, shirts and Mylar blankets on Saturday.7:30 p.m. Saturday. Burns McDonnell World Headquarters, 9400 Ward Parkway. rocktheparkway.com. $45 for the 5K and $100 for the half-marathon.
The natural inclination for many visitors to renowned institutions like the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is to race through dozens of galleries. Patrons are often motivated to laboriously check the highlights of the museum’s collection off a list rather than in taking time to properly appreciate each work. The global Slow Art Day is designed to change that mindset with a simple plan: “participants look at five works of art for 10 minutes each and then meet together over lunch to talk about their experience.” The Nelson-Atkins Museum’s generous free admission policy makes the experiment a risk-free investment.11 a.m. Saturday. Rozzelle Court at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. 816-751-1278. nelson-atkins.org. Free. Bill Maher
Not even his most ardent admirers can deny that Bill Maher is smug, glib and smarmy. Fans consider the comedian and political commentator’s self-righteous persona and relentlessly snarky demeanor as positive attributes. Conversely, Maher’s detractors must admit that his spiteful jabs at the expense of public figures and outrageous perspectives are often hysterical. Like its predecessor “Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher,” the current television program “Real Time With Bill Maher” serves as a kangaroo court that passes judgment on everything Maher deems offensive. The irascible satirist will almost certainly takes pains to offend wide swathes of Sunday’s audience.7:30 p.m. Sunday. Midland. 816-283-9921. midlandkc.com. $54-$79. Ink’s Middle of the Map Film Fest
The ambitious aspirations of the music portion of Ink’s Middle of the Map Fest carry over to the corresponding film festival. A significant portion of the event’s attractions are rock-related films. They include “What Did You Expect? The Archers of Loaf Live at Cat’s Cradle,” “Every Everything: The Music, Life Times of Grant Hart,” “Color Me Obsessed: A Film About the Replacements,” and “72 Musicians,” a documentary featuring Kansas City-based artists. Among the festival’s other films are the cult favorite “Adventureland” and the Japanese oddity “Kid’s Police.”Wednesday-Sunday. Alamo Drafthouse. middleofthemapfest.com/films. $30.