Jan. 27 2014 06:37 PM

Our top three picks of San Diego events this week

Headliner Donnell Rawlings

1. Growing laughter

San Diego's proximity to Los Angeles impacts the local comedy scene. On one hand, it's a short drive, so we get a lot of good acts coming through. On the other hand, when a local comedian starts getting big, we inevitably lose them to the allure of the big(ger) city.

George Salek, owner of Comedy Palace (8878 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. in Clairemont), thinks it's only a matter of time before San Diego's comedy scene grows to offer enough opportunities to keep local funnymen and women here.

"We really want to push comedy in San Diego," Salek says. "The more comedy clubs and events, the better—it brings more awareness to the product."

With a focus on building and promoting his own business, as well as the city's comedy scene overall, Salek and his crew have put together the first-ever San Diego Comedy Festival, happening Tuesday, Jan. 28, through Sunday, Feb. 1. If you're reading this in print, you've already missed the Tuesday kickoff with Kevin Pollak at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel (8110 Aero Drive in Clairemont), but you've got time to see the rest of the headliners and events happening at Comedy Palace.

Salek says they put out a call and got more than 300 requests to perform at the festival. He put together a panel of industry experts, who then sifted through all the clips and whittled them down to the funniest 75 comedians, all of whom will perform during the five-day event.

Headliners include Donnell Rawlings (former cast member of Chappelle's Show) and Jen Kober of American Reunion. Other events include Improv VS Standup, a show that mixes stand-up acts with improvisers, and a comedy competition that includes cash prizes. Ticket prices vary. Hit up sandiegocomedyfest.com for details

2. The black experience

It's been more than a decade since the San Diego Black Film Festival first fired up its projectors. Since then, it's grown to be one of the largest black film festivals in the country, with winning films going on to compete nationally. This year, the festival continues its tradition from Thursday, Jan. 30, to Sunday, Feb. 2, at the Reading Cinemas Gaslamp (701 Fifth Ave.). This year's opening-night feature will be a 7:30 p.m. screening of the 2013 film Tula: the Revolt, starring Danny Glover, about the leader of a 1795 slave revolt. There's also a free screening at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, of the documentary Still Bill, about American soul singer Bill Withers ("Ain't No Sunshine," "Use Me"). Find all the details at sdbff.com.

MCASD celebrates DC

As the publisher of U-T San Diego, the late David Copley was a controversial figure, but no one can dispute his patronage of the arts. Copley, who died in 2012, was a trustee of, and major donor to, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. To mark what would have been his 62nd birthday, the museum's La Jolla location (700 Prospect St.) is exhibiting pieces from Copley's collection of works by artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude. X-TO+J-C: Christo and Jeanne-Claude opens Sunday, Feb. 2, and includes early pieces by the couple, who became famous for their colossal, bold installations, like wrapping the Reichstag in Berlin in fabric and aluminum and placing 7,503 saffron-colored fabric "gates" in New Yorkís Central Park. The exhibition will be on view through April 6. mcasd.org

Does your event deserve to be in our top three? Email Kinsee Morlan.