Lots of laughs, love on stage

Felipe Esparza
Felipe Esparza

Only Felipe Esparza would describe being on crack as looking around like “Jeff Dunham with no puppets.”

The comedian, at Thunder Valley Saturday night, has a raft of material about things we might not otherwise laugh at – gangs, fights, break-ups, ghetto living.

It was a rough life for this big guy who managed to turn it into comedy, doing ultimately what all great comedians do, making his material not only funny but true.

Expect him to go anywhere on any topic, but be assured he will include insights into growing up poor – birthday parties not at Chuck E. Cheese’s but at the snack bar at K-Mart, for instance, or going to the park on Easter and hunting other kids’ Easter eggs.

His family was tough (“My father was a professional wrestler so when he hit us he didn’t really hit us”), not the best environment for learning anything about parenting. Esparza wound up as a divorced father which gave him a wealth of material, begging for self-help books like “What to Do When You’re Expected to Do Something.”

It is no surprise that Esparza’s comedy inspiration when he was growing up was Bill Cosby (“not anymore,” he is quick to add) because he has adapted the formula, talking to everybody with no racial distinctions, with every story, no matter how exaggerated the details, ringing of authenticity (7:30 p.m.; $42.95-$54.95; thundervalleyresort.com).

Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock turned out a lot of love back in the 1980s – they got “Lost in Love,” sang about “The One That You Love,” advised about “Making Love out of Nothing at All,” and even ran “All out of Love.” They were Air Supply and still are, appearing tonight and Saturday at Cache Creek.

They pulled off a couple of neat tricks in the music industry along the way. “Lost in Love” became the fastest selling single to that date. They also equaled the Beatles’ run of consecutive top-five singles.

They came out of Australia when heavy metal dominated the charts. They thought some ballads would supply “a breath of fresh air,” so they started delivering just such an air supply. (Tonight at 9 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m.; $55-$95; cachecreek.com)

There will be abundant Cinco de Mayo celebrations this weekend, but the biggest will be at Reno’s Grand Sierra with parades, live music, carnival rides, ARCE Amateur Boxing, and plenty of food specials (Noon to 8 p.m.Saturday and Sunday).

There will also be a big party in the resort’s ultra Lex nightclub. That’s the one with a swimming pool, although it is covered by plexiglass as part of the dance floor. No sense in letting anybody go too out of line. (grandsierraresort.com)

Add yet another concert to the Harveys Outdoor Concert Series for a season shaping up to be one of the strongest ever. Janet Jackson will bring her State of the World Tour to the amphitheater on August 10 (7:30 p.m.; $69.50-$149.50; Ticketmaster of Apeconcerts.com)