only sang about one minute of his 1988 classic "Lasagna" at the Count
Basie Theater in Red Bank, New Jersey last night, but he made it count.
Clutching an accordion, Yankovic delivered the song (to the tune of "La
Bamba") with the same look of crazed intensity in his eyes that Bruce
Springsteen has when he belts out the beginning of "Backstreets." Now,
it's pretty tough to be hysterically funny when singing a G-rated song
about lasagna. In fact, Weird Al might be the only man on the planet who
can pull it off. The man is a national treasure.
Weird Al fans are the kind of people who cheer for songs long before
the band plays a single note. They can tell what's coming next solely by
the costume the band is wearing when they walk onstage after video
interludes. If they have on long beards, it's time for "Amish Paradise."
Flannel shirts mean "Smells Like Nirvana" and pocket protectors mean
"White and Nerdy."
The show is as rehearsed as much as any Broadway play. It doesn't
vary one note from night to night, but nobody expects him to pull a
Pearl Jam and yank out "Taco Grande" without adequate preparation. One
of Weird Al's wonderful contradictions is how seriously he takes the
absurd. If you talk to him offstage, he's as serious as a heart attack.
It goes a long way towards explaining his longevity. At the show, he
parodies R.E.M., the White Stripes, Michael Jackson, the Knack, Dire
Straits and many other acts that he's somehow managed to outlast. The
"Eat It" guy was supposed to quickly fade into obscurity along with
every other novelty act in history, but somehow we're three decades
after "My Bologna" and he's as popular as ever.
(Incidentally, I didn't have time to grab dinner before the show, and
the only offering at the concession stand was a bag of Doritos. A
little bag of Doritos isn't a very satisfying dinner - and a Weird Al
concert is the wrong place to go when you're hungry. I could practically
taste the lasagna, the rye, the kaiser, the bologna and even the
ding-dongs from the "Fat" video.)
Unfortunately, some of the newer songs don't measure up to the
classics. "Skipper Dan" - an original about a frustrated actor who works
as a tour guide at a jungle theme park - barely elicited a chuckle. His
Green Day spoof "Canadian Idiot" is also disappointing, and his Lady
Gaga tribute "Perform This Way" fails to deliver a punch. His White
Stripes-inspired "Charles Nelson Reilly" does score some laughs, but the
jokes about the amazingly invincible Match Game panelist seem awfully
similar to the Chuck Norris jokes from a few years back. But "Party In
The CIA" (to the tune of "Party In The USA") proves he's still got his
chops, and "White and Nerdy" from 2006 remains one of the best songs in
his vast catalog.
During a long medley of his older songs, Al sang his 1984 deep cut
"Theme From Rocky XIII." It's about an elderly, retired Rocky working in
a restaurant. Twenty-two years after that song's release, Sylvester
Stallone actually made a movie about a elderly, retired Rocky working in
a restaurant. Does anybody need more proof that Weird Al is a prophet?
If Ghandi II ever hits the big screen, he'll prove it beyond any doubt.
Weird Al shows have as many rituals as a Jimmy Buffett or AC/DC
concert. There's always cheerleaders for "Smells Like Nirvana," he's
always going to close out the main set singing "Fat" in a fat suit and
there's always a clip from UHF. This time around, he showed the
Wheel of Fish scene from his 1989 film. A huge percent of the audience
knew every line, and they screamed out "Stupid! You're so stupid!" with
incredible glee. It's well past time for Weird Al to make another movie.
It'll be impossible to top his debut, but he needs to try.
As always, the show ended with an encore of Yankovic's two Star Wars
songs. This time around, he had members of the crew dressed as storm
troopers and one as Darth Vader. It kicked off with "The Saga Begins,"
which tells the entire story of Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace
to the tune of "American Pie." Lines like "we caught a ride back to
Naboo 'cause Queen Amidala wanted to" make me laugh every time. Things
wrapped up with "Yoda." It's a parody of "Lola" by the Kinks and Weird
Al must have performed it well over 1,000 times by this point, but you'd
never know that by watching the passion and energy he pours into every
Photo by Larry Marano/FilmMagic