People pursue careers in comedy for all sorts of reasons: to make others laugh, to express opinions, to get back at their parents. (That last one is just speculation, Mom and Dad.) But as stand-up comedian Kyle Kinane tells it, his motivation was simpler: to do as little as possible.

“As a kid, comedy was something I watched on TV,” says Kinane during our recent interview. “And I couldn’t really understand how it worked, because somebody would just talk, and that was it. You didn’t have to act, you didn’t have to do stunts – you just talked, by yourself, and people would laugh, and that was a job. I was pretty fascinated with that, and, when I first started, I think I knew I was gonna do it forever.”

Yet for someone who attended college because he thought “if you didn’t go, you had to get a real job, and I didn’t want one of those,” Kinane’s job has found him doing far more than he initially expected.

On May 19, Davenport’s Redstone Room hosts an evening with Canadian singer/songwriter and guitarist Chris Antonik, who performs in support of his recently released third album Monarch. As Antonik’s self-titled debut was released only seven years ago, it’s understandable if you’re not entirely familiar with his name. His preferred genre, however, should be apparent simply by scanning the titles of songs he wrote for Monarch, which include “I’d Burn It All Down (For You),” “A Slip in the Rain,” “You’re Killing My Love,” and “The Art of Letting Go.”

So get ready for a night of goofy, vacuous bubblegum pop, folks!

Kidding. He’s totally a blues artist. And judging by Antonik’s acclaim this decade, quite the blues artist.

Considering its real-life tale of the 1916 lynching of a circus elephant and the event’s effects on those who either demanded or protested the execution, playwright George Brant’s Elephant’s Graveyard could rightly be labeled a drama. But it’s more accurately a horror story, and as evidenced by New Ground Theatre’s and director Debo Balogun’s electrifying presentation, that horror doesn’t come from a momentarily out-of-control pachyderm; it comes from human beings, from us, and our own worst impulses. You may, and likely will, shudder when hearing how the elephant Mary crushed her abusive rider’s head – intentionally? – with the weight of five tons. That recollection, however, pales next to the terrifying image of a girl giddy with delight about the beast’s impending fate, or the circus ringmaster admitting, with not quite enough regret, what he eventually did with the corpse.

After a brief prelude set in 1980 Missouri, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 flash-forwards 34 years, catching up with our motley crew of space travelers not long after we last saw them. This may be the film’s single most-unexpected aspect, because with the action unfurling over the course of only a few days, it’s the first time since 2011’s Captain America: Winter Soldier that a Marvel Studios movie is also a period piece. Granted, three-years-ago may not scream “period.” But in this case, it definitely is, given that writer/director James Gunn’s continuation feels so 2014 that it’s almost as if its audience has been in hyper-sleep for the past 33 months, and is awakening just in time for a new Guardians to start. I really wish I meant that as a compliment.

Movies are endlessly surprising. Take How to Be a Latin Lover. In a sane world, I’d follow that with the Catskills-comedian punchline “Please” – although on the day I attended, others were clearly looking forward to it more than I was. The friendly ticket-counter employee told me how much she loved what I thought were pretty noxious previews for the comedy, and directed me to the auditorium with “Try not to laugh too hard!” (“No problem,” I silently replied.) The incessantly chatty patrons sitting behind me expressed excitement about the impending “pool scene,” which, again, looked astoundingly unamusing in the trailers. Then I saw the film. And damn it if this latest vehicle for Mexican comedian Eugenio Derbez wasn’t a sweet, moderately clever outing boasting a peppy spirit, a bunch of inspired performers, and a fistful of truly riotous moments. I swear: Sometimes, this job makes no sense at all.

As an actor in the college’s theatre department, Augustana senior Debo Balogun has triumphed with a number of demanding assignments: the title role in last fall’s Othello; the stylized performance technique required for Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal; the famed “All the world’s a stage” soliloquy in Shakespeare’s As You Like It.

But the Chicago native’s weightiest challenge to date might lie in the drama Balogun is currently directing for New Ground Theatre – because by “weighty,” we’re talking several figurative tons.

Friday, April 21, 10 a.m.-ish: It’s another movie morning with my favorite two-year-old (and her dad), but truth be told she doesn’t seem much into Disneynature’s Born in China. Maybe this is due to the relatively sophisticated dialogue, as our charming narrator John Krasinski employs words such as “interlopers” and says things such as “The duality of opposing figures exists everywhere in nature.” But I prefer to think that my young friend is just mighty sophisticated herself, and realizes that if director Chuan Lu’s edu-doc was going to be this cartoonish, it probably should’ve just been animated from the start.

Not to be grossly insensitive, but films such as The Promise – writer/director Terry George’s historical epic set amidst the (still-contested) Armenian genocide of World War I – make me wish there were even more comic-book movies. X-Men: Apocalypse, after all, gave us Oscar Isaac as a world-destroyer, and Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies gave us Christian Bale as the Caped Crusader, and both actors were infinitely more entertaining in those outings than they are in this turgid love-triangle melodrama – a ceaselessly phony piece of “prestige” moviemaking that feels like it’s unsuccessfully aiming for Best Picture of 1985. (The dull movie that did win that prize, Out of Africa, feels like Pulp Fiction in comparison.)

The eighth entry in the Fast & the Furious franchise opens with Vin Diesel’s sensitive bruiser Dominic Toretto winning a drag race in Havana by driving a souped-up beater car ... that’s on fire ... moving backwards. The movie climaxes with Dom and his crew evading heat-seeking missiles in Russia while simultaneously outrunning a nuclear submarine that’s barreling through the breached surface of frozen waters. I can only guess that this series’ ninth outing will begin with Dom and a sneering adversary playing chicken atop an airborne Goodyear Blimp with a bomb on its fin, and conclude with our hero plugging a hole in the International Space Station using only his wits and a half-empty Corona.

On April 22, Rascals Live will host a special acoustic concert with power-rock stalwarts Damon Johnson and Ricky Warwick, whose third album as members of Black Star Riders recently hit number six on the UK charts. Given that they’ve collaborated with the likes of Bob Dylan, Alice Cooper, Sheryl Crow, and Ted Nugent, you may wonder, after their area performance, how we were lucky enough to find them in Moline. But considering their individual backgrounds, the bigger question is: How were they lucky enough to find each other?

Pages