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Doug Benson; more

Thursday 7.31 

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Raleigh
Doug Benson
Goodnight's Comedy Club—Doug Benson just did a film about smoking marijuana every day for a full month but still doesn't consider himself a "pot comic." The comedian, who starred in the documentary Super High Me and co-starred in the Off-Broadway hit The Marijuana-Logues plays Goodnight's starting tonight but isn't worried about police frisking him for illegal substances. "I don't think any policemen actually saw Super High Me," Benson says. "I do tend to ask 'Is there a cop in the audience?' It gets a laugh, but I am really curious."

Benson, who recently released a live album, Professional Humoredian, promises a unique performance. "Pretty much every show is different—I have some set material I rely on for a while until I get sick of it," Benson says. "Even the performance on the live CD has a lot of twists and turns and comments I haven't made before or since—and even when you've heard a joke of mine before, chances are it's not going to be told exactly the same way."

Benson's most recognizable as a regular commentator on VH1's current-event-riffing Best Week Ever, which he credits for helping make it okay for people to hate mediocre celebrities. "When I was growing up, if you hated Zsa Zsa Gabor, there weren't too many people talking smack about her on TV. Now, when you hate a celebrity, you can turn on the TV and watch us make fun of them, and it's a bit of a release." He admits there are some "Celebreality" shows, particularly the ones on E!, he doesn't like. "When the point of the show is, 'We'll just follow them around each week and not much of interest will happen,' those are the ones that drive me nuts," Benson says.

Though his most recent album was recorded on the marijuana-friendly holiday April 20 while under the influence, Benson says his Goodnight's performance will be done without the aid of chemical additives: "I don't want anyone to show up to see some rambling mess of a person who can't get to a point." He does warn that he might engage in some alcohol consumption: "If it's a two-show night, I might have some drinks after the first show. That's something for the people in Raleigh to look forward to." —Zack Smith


Raleigh
J.A. Jance
Quail Ridge Books—When she began writing in 1985, she was told that men wouldn't want to read a suspense novel written by "Judith Ann" so she shortened her name for her covers. Thirty-eight books later (with 39 and 40 in the works), she's happy to keep the gender neutral pen name. "It's shorter and easier to autograph!" she says. Taking life's lemons and turning them into lemonade seems to come naturally to her. Asked what the inspiration was for her latest suspense novel, Damage Control, she replies, "March 17 of last year, when our dog woke me up alerting me that there was an intruder in our bedroom." Not letting a good story line go to waste, Jance turned it over to Joanna Brady, the wife, mother and Arizona sheriff that has driven 13 of her novels. "In many of the books I'd read that featured female sleuths, I had found that the characters seemed to live isolated, solitary lives with maybe a cat and a single dying ficus for company. Most of the women I knew lived complicated lives that involved husbands and children, in-laws and friends. They juggled family responsibilities and jobs along with church and community service. I set out to make my character into someone whose life would reflect that complicated act of juggling," she says. She discusses the book and signs copies at 7 p.m. —Jessica Fuller

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