I’ve been going to concerts since I was a kid, and last Wednesday night was the first time in my life in which I finally heard a musician say “Hello Milwaukee” and actually mean it (no offense, Spinal Tap).
Welcome to the wonderful world of Weird Al: where accordions and polkas about lepers go hand in hand; where a fuzzy-haired satirist pulls off more sexual chutzpah than Prince; where jokes about Don McLean, Alanis Morrisette, the Presidents of the United States and the Amish are still honestly funny; where Star Wars fans aren’t afraid to flash their light sabers at “Yoda”–or wear “Masturbation Is Not a Crime” shirts (note to that dude: it is in public places). And where a grown man can pull a pair of boxer shorts straight out of his pants as he croons in ways that would make Tom Jones blush. It is a fantastic, glorious world.
I went into Potawatomi’s Northern Lights Theater not knowing what to expect and left thinking that Weird Al might very well be the greatest performance artist I’ve ever seen. I brought my parents and even they had fun–and they hate everything! Because of his new album, Poodle Hat, Al spent much of the night parodying newer artists like Blink 182, Eminem and Avril Lavigne. But here’s the thing: he was better at it than they are. Significantly better. The man can sing, the man can rap, the man can do a mean cover of Led Zeppelin on a highly choreographed whim. Even classics like “My Bologna” and “Theme From Rocky XIII” sounded better than the originals.
And then there was the stage show. Beyond the singing, beyond the clever lyrics, Weird Al adds in dramatic costume changes (including full fat costume and makeup for, obviously, “Fat”) and sketch comedy that shows in between the songs requiring said changes. He cleverly added montages of every film and TV show he’s ever been mentioned or seen in, which is a lot, considering Mr. Yankovic has had a career as long as Madonna’s. And they were all very, very funny.
I guess the irony in this performance is that Weird Al has done what Madonna has been killing herself to do for many years–stay fresh, innovative and brilliant. And he even looks better with age. Maybe life is just easier when you accept your weirdness because then you don’t have to waste all that time and energy trying to be cool.
FYI: After Wednesday’s performance, I am no longer embarrassed to admit that Dare to Be Stupid was the first album I ever bought with my allowance at the tender age of 7.
(Originally published August 25, 2004)