Do It This Holiday Weekend: Give thanks for Aasif Mandvi at Tampa Theatre, holiday lights, Palm Harbor House of Beer and much more

The handsome and cheeky Aasif Mandvi is one of the funniest guys on TV,  known primarily for his stint on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, where he provides acerbic chestnuts as the Senior Asia Correspondent and Senior Middle East Correspondent.

About Israel,  Mandvi said,  “I think what we’re seeing here in the Gaza Strip is the embarrassing classroom erections of the Middle East.”

What's more, Mandvi has Tampa connections. He recently made an under-the-radar appearance at USF, where local photographer Jim Wordes caught some nice pics of the celeb.

Born in India and raised in Britain, writer, comedian and actor Mandvi (pictured with Tampa Theatre's Tara Schroeder) moved to our fair city when he was 16, studied theater for a spell at the University of South Florida and worked as a performer at Disney theme parks. He later moved to New York City (of course) where he began appearing in off-Broadway productions. He won an Obie Award for his critically acclaimed one-man show Sakina's Restaurant.

Mandvi has also appeared on Broadway and in a handful of movies (Analyze This, The Siege and title role of The Mystic Masseur).

He celebrates his latest starring role in the heartwarming indie comedy Today's Special, a film that centers on a big-city sous chef who must give up a promising move to Paris to help out his family's floundering Indian restaurant. Mandvi co-wrote the script with former Daily Show writer Jonanthan Bines.

Tampa Theatre begins its run of the film Friday, and at the screening 7:30 p.m. Saturday screening, Mandvi appears in person and answers questions from the audience about the movie,  his career and relevance as a brown-skinned sex symbol.  This was a very much last-minute engagement, so spread the word. Tampa Theatre is at 711 N. Franklin St., Tampa. $9, $7. 813-274-8981.

Raise a stein at the Palm Harbor House of Beer Grand Opening. Stop by for live music, complimentary food from the local eateries, giveaways and deeply discounted beer specials that include $3 for any of the establishment's 50 taps after 7 p.m. Brian Caudill and Brad Smith of Little Big Show perform live from 8 p.m. to midnight. The “hoppy-licious” Randall also makes an appearance. 7 p.m. The Palm Harbor House of Beer is located at 34970 U.S. 19 N., behind Tiffany's and the Wing House in the Fountains Plaza. 727-902-1671.

Okay, it was early, but now it's officially time to get yer yuletide groove on. Hit the lights at the 2010 Mega Christmas Light Display The 34th annual Kresge Christmas House is a kitschy and hilariously preachy holiday tradition. The controversial attraction features some 609,751 lights, and three high-capacity electric meters handle the power.

Owners of the illuminated home open their property to a walking yard tour that includes an 18-train HO scale model railroad, animated items and lots of inflatable and lit-up figures and displays. Premises includes hands-on games and bubble machines for the kids plus several Christmas trees rising up to 70 feet. The display covers around one-half acre. It been featured in People Magazine, NBC’s The Today Show and other national publications and TV programs. Take I-275 to exit 22 (old exit 9), which is 175 East. Turn right on Fourth Street, heading south. Go 1 mile, crossing over 22nd Avenue South. Next street on left is Oakdale. Go two blocks and park or look. Display open Nov. 26-Jan. 3

On Friday, don’t fight the big mall madness — instead, take a leisurely stroll down St. Pete Beach’s Corey Avenue while shopping for your holiday gifts at Corey Lights Up, where more than 17 merchants are all decked out to start their holidays and offer tons o’ merchandise on sale. Live music by Keven Wilder 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Merchants open late until 8 p.m. offering wine, refreshments and music. Free parking. Call 727-498-8778 for details.

A cornucopia of chic and contemporary creativity awaits at the Black Friday Fashion Show art party and sale. The event spreads out across two venues –Vitale Studio art gallery and the Local 662 live music bar – both on the 600 Block of Central Avenue. Its objective is to create an “in-your-face” local-indie-promoting shopping and audio-visual experience. The two-pronged affair starts with the Black Friday Store at the Vitale Studio, where jewelry, prints, T-shirts, smaller original pieces and other miscellaneous items are for sale under $199. At 6 p.m., the major works exhibition kicks off at the Local 662 with the irrepressible DJ Mega providing the sonic backdrop. Visual artists on display as of this writing are artists include, Bask, Blue Lucy, Chris Parks, Tes One, Frank Strunk III, Dan Lasata, Kathryn Cole, Johnny Vitale, Kate Cummings, Bradley Askew, Joey Vitale, Josh Sullivan, HUGO, Kendra Bailey and several others.

Fashion show begins at 9 p.m., strutting the designs of artist Frank Strunk III and clothing by MISred boutique – both Best of the Bay winners. Fri., Nov. 26. The Black Friday Store is 10 a.m.-midnight; art opening fashion show 6 p.m.-midnight; Vitale Studio and Local 662 are at 651 and 662 Central Ave., St. Petersburg; $5 admission to Local 662; works remain on display at the through Dec. 18. For more information, call 727-466-8500.

The Tampa Two Stroke Scooter Club is calling all two-wheel enthusiasts – people on bikes, scooters, motorcyclists, mopeds – to participate in the Two-Wheel Rollout, an all-day scavenger hunt in Seminole Heights on Saturday, Nov. 27. Participants can register individually or on teams at 10 a.m. at the A.W. Windhorst Mason’s Lodge, 5011 N. Nebraska Ave., Tampa, where an optional $5 all-you-can-eat breakfast will be served. Then, the hunt revs up at 11 a.m. with the next stop at Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe, 5119 N. Nebraska Ave., for nouveau Americana food and a prize drawing. The last stop to victory is at The Independent bar, 5016 N. Florida Ave., at 6 p.m., where items must be turned in to receive points. The clue list is long, so there are plenty of chances to find items even if you’re not a resident of Seminole Heights or Tampa. $5 participation fee; for more information, visit or e-mail—Contributed by Jill Case

When Conan O’Brien premiered his new late-night show on TBS, George Lopez had to accept a bump in his chat show’s time slot (11 p.m. to midnight). He welcomed the red-haired celeb while joking that he had to once again take the backseat to a white guy. The comments typified the good-natured but simultaneously smart-ass delivery that endears audiences to Lopez. The 49-year-old host of Lopez Tonight has established himself among the nation’s stand-up elite and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Time named him one of the “25 Most Influential Hispanics in America” and he has starred in his own sitcom (we won’t hold that one against him). Plus, he’s appeared on countless shows, including Curb Your Enthusiasm, co-hosted the Emmy Awards and twice hosted the Latin Grammys. Say what you want about his material – Lopez’s live charisma is right on. 8 p.m. Sat., Nov. 27, in the Morsani Hall of the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa; regularly priced tickets start at $49.50; call 813-229-7827 or visit

also, in brief ...

Fri 26 Back to the Future 2010 w/The Hazies, Freaks Rule, Men From Earth, DeeForce and Deloris Telescope Relive the ‘80s-early-‘90s-Club Detroit/ACL/Rock-It Club era with local legendary new wave and rock ’n’ roll blasts from the past. Jannus Live, 16 Second St. N., St. Petersburg. 8 p.m.; $15, $20; 727-565-0550.

Sat 27 Grand Central Chili Cookoff Live entertainment, street vendors, a kids’ “korner” and other activities for the entire family add kick to the holiday weekend. 2400-2600 blocks of Central Avenue, St. Petersburg. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. $10 for tasting tickets day of event; includes chili cookbook.

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