Always dependable for a chuckle and a squirm, and then a chuckle again, Chris Rock performs two shows tonight at the Orpheum. Catch him at 7 and 10; tickets are $39 to $61. 1 Hamilton Place, 617- 931-2000. Please don't bead the animals It matters little in these parts that Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday. In Boston, the holiday of cocktails, girls gone wild, and all-around debauchery is celebrated on the weekend. Of course, Mardi Gras is also supposed to be a last fling before 40 days of Lent, but we suspect the only thing that folks who attend Mardi Gras parties will be giving up for Lent this year is their underwear. Go! is no religious scholar, but doesn't that defeat the purpose? There is no shortage of Mardi Gras parties this weekend, but if you're only attending one soiree, make it Shaun and Suzi's annual Mardi Gras Ball (Shaun Wolf Wortis, above). The party takes place Saturday night at 9 at the Middle East and includes an all-star band with Paula Kelley, Chris Mascara, Rick Berlin, and the Jelly Rollers. Tickets are $10. If you can't wait until tomorrow to get your Mardi Gras started, the Kirkland Cafe hosts its annual Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball and Zulu Parade of the Golden Blade (phew!) tonight. Beginning at 8, enjoy the dulcet tones of the Confederacy of Dumpsters, the Chicken Slacks Soul Revue, and Mr. Sparkle. Tickets are $10. Also tonight, the Big Easy hosts a Mardi Gras bash with a costume contest (watch out for frost bite on the way to the club, Janet) and live music.