Headliners: Emo Philips at the Iron Horse; Black Maria Film Festival in Northampton

Published: 11/10/2016 2:58:03 PM

Emo, gee!

“I once had a large gay following, but I ducked into an alleyway and lost him.”

“I go from stool to stool in singles bars hoping to get lucky. But there's never any gum under any of them.”

“I discovered my wife in bed with another man, and I was crushed. So I said, ‘Get off me, you two!’”

That’s comedian Emo Philips engaged in his trademark use of paraprosdokian, a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase causes the listener to reframe the first part, resulting in momentary cognitive disconnect followed by involunary excitation of one’s risibles.

First exhibited onstage in 1976 when he was 20, Emo’s shtick also involves delivery of his material in a bewildered, childlike falsetto voice which, now that he is pushing 60, more often conveys the impression of an idiot savant. “Weird Al” Yankovic thinks he’s “one of the funniest people on the planet” while Jay Leno calls him “the best joke writer in America.” Judge for yourself when he comes to the Iron Horse on Wednesday for 7 p.m. show. Valley citizen Henning Ohlenbusch opens with guitar and a satchel of songs. $20 advance; $25 at the door. 586-8686, iheg.com

Future cultural detritus

“In a far-off epoch, how will historians decode the detritus left by decaying 16mm filmstrips or explain the cultural systems that produced them?,” asks Margaret Parsons, head of film programs at Washington, D.C.’s National Gallery of Art. “Will these researchers appreciate that long before the global drive toward dematerialization,16mm film was an artisanal métier, a labor-intensive process of tactile construction subject to the vagaries of chance and personal ingenuity?”

Could be — anything’s possible, as we’ve recently learned. It could even turn out that one source of such appreciation will be the Black Maria Film Festival, which for the past 35 years has been promoting and preserving the vitality of the short film, particularly ones that shine a light on issues and struggles within contemporary society.

Named after the world's first motion picture studio built by Thomas Edison, the festival takes its jury-selected program on tour each year, visiting far-flung inner city, rural and suburban locations, including Northampton, where a selection of this year’s winning entries is set for a free screening Friday at 7 p.m. at the First Churches at 129 Main St.

On the roster: “Notes from My Homeland” by Ed Kashi and Julie Winokur (6 min.), in which a Syrian-American composer responds to the brutalities of the Assad regime by composing music in support of the Syrian Revolution and performing it at great personal risk; “The Bravest, The Boldest” by Moon Molson (17 min.) in which two Army Casualty Notification Officers arrive at the Harlem projects to deliver Sayeeda Porter news about her son serving in the war in the Middle East (whatever it is they have to say, she doesn’t want to hear it); “Nighthawks” by Fang Ji (7 min.), in which the filmmaker explores her doubts about the standard distinctions between humans and animals; “Signwriter” by Paul Zinder (5 min.), about a guy in England who’s been painting signs for 60 years; and “Ripple” by Conor Griffith (4 min.), an experimental film featuring visual and auditory forms of noise, topography and form.

— Dan DeNicola

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