Hotpicks: Hip-hop, not so much gangsta ...

| Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, 8:34 p.m.

Hip-hop, not so much gangsta ...

Although hip-hop virtually requires that its practitioners mask their personalities behind toughness and braggadocio, it also has encouraged its share of jokers, pranksters, freaks and goofballs who clearly don't fit the pattern, from Biz Markie to ODB to Madvillain.

This is all a roundabout way of saying that Pittsburgh should-be-legends Grand Buffet are still hip-hop, even if they don't exactly wear the uniform. These dudes can rap, and kick off enough euphoric energy onstage to power Heinz Field. I mean, what else would you call it? Sometimes, Lord Grunge and Mrs. Paintbrush (or whatever they're calling themselves nowadays) seem to border on stand-up comedy, or surrealistic performance art. But they always seem to come back to old-school, back-and-forth rhyme-trading.

Grand Buffet has two shows this weekend at the Brillobox, featuring songs from the entirety of their existence, going back to the late '90s. Both members are releasing new solo albums, as well. The shows start at 9 p.m. Nov. 29 and 30, and tickets are $10. Details: 412-621-4900 or

— Michael Machosky

Little helpers and the ‘sole' of Christmas

“The Shoemaker and the Christmas Elves” is coming Nov. 29 to The Palace Theatrein Greensburg as the Westmoreland Cultural Trust's annual family holiday show.

The play, from Richmond, Va.-based Theatre IV, tells the musical story of two elves who are sent to work for a poor cobbler until he does something nice for them. When he does, the elves will become true Christmas Elves and be sent to work for Santa at the North Pole.

The elves use the cobbler's leather scraps to make dolls for the cobbler and his wife to sell in their shop. The cobbler finally discovers the elves have helped the shop profit and, in return, makes each elf a new pair of shoes, granting their wish to go to the North Pole.

“The Shoemaker and the Christmas Elves” plays at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tickets are $8 and $9. Details: 724-836-8000 or

— Kellie B. Gormly

The real treasure was in the comedy

There was a time when people made live-action movies that could appeal to kids, teenagers and adults, without condescending to any of them. Movies like the “The Goonies” somehow did it without being corny, moralizing or insulting anyone's intelligence — while fully indulging in the kind of slapstick and low humor that has kept moviegoers guffawing since the silent movies of Buster Keaton and Fatty Arbuckle.

It's rare enough to find movies that are still funny decades after you first see them, but “Goonies” (1985, starring Corey Feldman, Josh Brolin, Sean Astin) gets it done.

Pittsburgh's Arcade Comedy Theater, Downtown, will get to the bottom of this oddball-adventure classic, by staging a live reading of the script on Nov. 29 and 30, starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10; $5 for student rush. The Arcade Comedy Theater is at 811 Liberty Ave., Downtown.

Details: or 412-339-0608.

— Michael Machosky

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