Wednesday April 5 Affirmative action: Social consciousness and comedy have probably been willing bedfellows since the beginning of time. Or at least since the first funny guy got up in front of his cavemates and began to make fun of know-it-all Glog, who shared his coconuts only with the palest Neanderthals. Latino comic George Lopez, who hails from the San Fernando Valley, updates those thoughtful, egalitarian gags and makes it his mission to tell jokes in the name of equality for all. He'll address the issues beginning tonight and continuing through Saturday at the Comedy Works, located at 1226 15th St., in Larimer Square. For showtimes, information and reservations, call 595-3637.

Thursday April 6 Expressed with cantors: Behind every great rabbi, there's a cantor whose emotive voice can induce folks to weep or rejoice during a service. Talk about your specialists! At Cantors in Concert, eight local cantors--men and women who are all members of the newly formed Rocky Mountain Cantors Association--will meet, with help from the Colorado Hebrew Chorale, for a musical summit of liturgical and modern works sung in Hebrew, Yiddish and Ladino. Think of it as a kind of "Three Tenors" for traditional and contemporary Jewish music in the Denver area. It all takes place tonight at 7:30 at Temple Sinai, 3509 S. Glencoe St.; admission is $10 ($25 reserved). For additional information call 321-4400.

Sade show attraction: German playwright Peter Weiss's The Persecution of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade (Marat/Sade) becomes a play within a play, borrowing from Brecht and incorporating a circus ring of theatrical devices to tell its story. CityStage Ensemble brings the whole thing to life, aided by resident composer Carlton Bacon, who created an original score for the company's eye-popping performance of the work. Shows, held at the Theatre at Jack's, 1550 Platte St., are at 7 Thursdays and Sundays and 8 Fridays and Saturdays, through April 30. For information, or to reserve tickets, $10 to $12, call CityStage at 433-8082.

Friday April 7 Top of the glass: He may just be the man who put glass on the map. Glass artist Dale Chihuly--whose own works range from organic, blossoming shell shapes to rococo pieces that explode like spiraling party favors--blazed a trail, boldly demonstrating the monumental and graceful scope possible for the medium. Chihuly will be on hand tonight from 5 to 8 to help celebrate a move for the Denver glass gallery PISMO to more spacious surroundings at 235 Fillmore St. See his work through April 28; call 333-2879 for details.

Women be wise: It's the night of the savvy women tonight--representatives from both ends of the feminine spectrum will command the stages at two area venues. Alternative princess Liz Phair--scrubbed, clever and self-assured--prickles on her own in a solo electric performance at the Ogden Theatre, 935 E. Colfax. Paul Kelly opens at 9; tickets are $12. Call 830-2525 or 1-800-444-SEAT. And in a totally different vein, the celebrated Motherfolkers, an ongoing ensemble of Colorado women folk musicians, mark another year with a series of annual performances, beginning with three at the Teikyo Loretto Heights Theater, 3001 S. Federal Blvd. Old favorites, including Eileen Niehouse, Bonnie Carol and Mary Stribling, team with new members Julie Hoest and Jean Harrison for this year's Mofo homecoming, tonight and tomorrow at 8 and Sunday at 7. Admission is $16.50; call 937-4205 or 830-TIXS.

The new masters: Always looking for the Next Big Thing, aren't you? If so, you might want to include the CU MFA Thesis Show in your next gallery hop. Tonight's varied opening--from 7 to 9 in the CU Art Galleries, Sibel-Wolle Fine Arts Building, CU-Boulder campus--features photographic images by Ethan Jackson and Merlin Madrid, ceramic sculptures by Lars K. Westby, pictographic porcelain by Jon Millman, and from well-known local Latino artist Tony Ortega, a series of monotypes commemorating Cesar Chavez. The five artists' works will be exhibited through April 18; call 492-8300.

Saturday April 8 The children's hour: You have to admit that spring fever is much easier to deal with than, say, chicken pox. All you have to do is get those kids out there doing something. The Denver Zoo in City Park has one great solution for keeping kids twelve and under busy--the second annual Zoo Hop Into Spring, held today from 9 to 2. First, one kid gets free admission with each paying adult. Second, kids who bring baskets (or who have very big pockets) can scavenge the grounds for hidden goodies. And third, kids' recording artist Dana Cohenour will perform from 11 to 1 in the zoo's event meadow. Call 331-4100. Later tonight, Bonnie Phipps's children's festival concert series, Kidstock, kicks off its season with a show mixing puppetry, music, African dance and mime, at 7 at the Temple Events Center, 1595 Pearl St. Tickets are $5; a series package including programs on May 19 and June 16 costs $12. For details call 777-3112.

Be-Boop-a-lula: Cartoons have the fine-lined distinction of being both cheap entertainment and a highly experimental art form. This weekend, in proof of that point, the ongoing Bug Film Series--put on by one of the more adventurous new film venues in the area--explores the seminal stages of a genre you've always associated with Saturday mornings. The program, to be screened at 8 tonight and tomorrow at the Bug, 3654 Navajo, includes celluloid favorites like Dave Fleischer's Betty Boop and Otto Mesmer's surreal Felix the Cat. Admission is $5 ($3 members); call 477-5977 for information.

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