There are a few words I could use to describe the Tuesday, May 24, Weird Al show at the Turning Stone Showroom: Entertaining. Ridiculous. Creative. Terrifying.
Having a front-and-center seat has its perks, but being the object of Weird Al’s (very) directed weirdness several times might not be one of them. Or maybe just for a braver soul…or someone with a stronger stomach.
The show was impressive considering it lasted more than two hours and showcased pieces from the comedian, satirist, parodist, musician, songwriter (etc. etc.)’s three decades of material. It’s strange to sit back and watch Weird Al go through eras of music covering everything from 1980s Michael Jackson and Madonna to Lady Gaga and Chamillionaire. The guy might be getting up there, age-wise, but he can still put on an entertaining show and now has the benefit of having witnessed years of pop culture unfold before his eyes, adding to the depth of his material to pull from. And it’s paid off. It took until his 2006 release, Straight Outta Lynwood and single, “White & Nerdy” to make it into the top 10 Billboard album list after more than 150 parodied and original songs, more than 12 million albums sold and more than 1,000 live shows. Better late than never.
Regardless, for anyone to build an entire career off the popular material of others and fashion comedic lyrics of all kinds (his topics range from Star Wars to bologna) to fit their form is impressive. Then, add his ability to fashion other comedic arts into his live shows (costumes, props, skits) and his use of the many pop culture references he’s generated (he’s mentioned in Friends, The Simpsons, movies) within the show as well, and you’ve got a whole Weird Al World. Brilliant…and also scary.
But it works. The showroom was decently filled and the audience was audibly pumped to be there. The crowd ranged from teenagers who knew every lyric to older folks who actually understood many of his early song references and the humor in many of his “Al TV” skits.
The skits came on between almost every song as Al quickly changed his character. He morphed from Kurt Cobain to Jim Morrison to a Safari guide to a big bird-like animal…or something (the Lady Gaga parody “Perform This Way”), to a gigantic fat suit Michael Jackson to a Jedi knight. Clips of the music video to match prefaced many of the songs and set the scene for what was about to visually/audibly slap the audience in the face…or crawl up to them…or drench them with water. Call him what you want--I think it’s better to be crazy than boring…and he’s not boring.
The “Al TV” clips that came on between songs featured celebrities including Madonna, Justin Timberlake, Keith Richards, Jessica Simpson, Robert Plant, Eminem, Celine Dion and others (a solid mix), and Al “interviewed” them. Every clip got a rise from the audience, but some of the best were with Jessica Simpson and Robert Plant (watch and laugh).
Being as close as I was, it was amusing to watch the
musicians on stage and wonder if their facial expressions were of pain or
boredom or if that’s just how they look after years of
performing the same songs, which were never their own to begin with. I wondered
if they found relief transitioning from a Backstreet Boys riff to the Chili Peppers
or if they actually enjoyed dressing in nerd outfits with glasses and ties
while throwing up gang signs during “White & Nerdy.” I think the better
interview someday might be with one of them.
The music was tight for the most part and the visuals were exactly as I initially described: entertaining, ridiculous, creative and, at times, terrifying. However, as entertaining as it was, never again do I want to see Weird Al that close up in a SpongeBob SquarePants T-shirt, fishnets and a tutu. Once is plenty – thanks. But for anyone looking to laugh and relish in the hilarity that is years of pop culture mayhem, Weird Al is a great option.
Watch this whole clip: