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Jeff Moehlis: ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic’s Parade of Pop Parodies

The Weird One presents a full evening of hilarity at the Chumash Casino

“Weird Al” Yankovic holds an interesting, and arguably unique, place in pop culture. He is, of course, best known for his parodies of pop music, cracking us up over the years with songs such as “Eat It,” “Fat,” “Amish Paradise” and “White & Nerdy,” all of which were on the program at his brilliant concert at the Chumash Casino Resort on Thursday night.

But he himself also has become a part of pop culture, not only through his parodies that sometimes rival the popularity of the original songs themselves, but also as a go-to pop culture reference in TV shows and movies ranging from The Simpsons to The Naked Gun 2½ to Friends, as was evident from clips shown between songs during the concert. Also featured between songs were amusing clips from Al TV with fake interviews with pop music celebrities such as Eminem, Jessica Simpson and Celine Dion.

As promised, the concert was a “highly produced, theatrical, high-energy rock show.” It started strong with the high-octane, accordion-driven “Polka Face,” a blast through recent Top 40 music that included snippets of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face,” Britney Spears’ “Womanizer,” Justin Bieber’s “Baby,” Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok” and Jamie Foxx’s “Blame It,” with synced-up videos at the back of the stage by the original artists. This was the first of several songs off his just-released album, ALpocalypse.

After “Frank’s 2000 TV”, Yankovic yelled out, “Are you ready to rock?” After the enthusiastic response, he apologized, “I was afraid of that. Our next song is a ballad.” This was the hysterical “You Don’t Love Me Anymore” with descriptions of all the horrible things that an unnamed former love had done to him.

A show highlight, “Smells Like Nirvana,” followed, in which Yankovic, wearing a Kurt Cobain sweater and wig, sang in the style of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” about not knowing the words to the song, plus a gargled “guitar” solo. Two cheerleaders, echoing Nirvana’s original video, provided a nice extra touch.

Next up was the funny new Yankovic original “Skipper Dan,” about a once-promising actor who now tells the same jokes over and over on the Disneyland-esque Jungle Cruise. This was followed by “You’re Pitiful,” a parody of James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful,” which Blunt’s Atlantic Records didn’t grant permission for Yankovic to include on his 2006 album Straight Outta Lynwood. As Yankovic peeled off shirts during this song, one included the message “Atlantic Records Still Sucks.”

Yankovic next donned a stocky peacock costume for “Perform This Way,” a new parody of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” in which Yankovic sings “I’m not crazy, I perform this way.” Another new song followed, the hard-rocking “CNR” about the supposed exploits of Match Game panelist and actor Charles Nelson Reilly.

“Canadian Idiot,” a parody of Green Day’s “American Idiot,” included the nice touch of Bob and Doug McKenzie’s classic “Coo coo coo coo coo coo coo cooo.” This was followed by another show highlight, “Wanna B Ur Lovr,” in which Yankovic bedecked as a smarmy lounge singer came out into the audience and flirted with the ladies with such lines as “I don’t have a library card, but do you mind if I check you out,” and “My love for you is like diarrhea, I just can’t hold it in.”

A medley of parodies from across the years followed, then Yankovic donned a Jim Morrison get-up for the new song “Craigslist.” This included a spoken open letter to “the snotty barista from the El Rancho Market on Highway 246.” The main set ended with three of Yankovic’s best-known songs, “Amish Paradise,” “White & Nerdy” and “Fat”, which for the latter Yankovic wore a fat suit complete with multiple chins.

For the encore, after “We All Have Cell Phones, So C’mon Let’s Get Real,” which predictably led to a sea of waving of cell phones, the show ended with a Star Wars theme with “The Saga Begins,” which recounts the plot of Star Wars Episode 1 to the tune of “American Pie” and had quite a few of the white and nerdy folks in the audience singing along, and “Yoda” to the tune of “Lola” by The Kinks complete with an amazing Tiki Room-worthy chant from the band.

Yankovic is a true genius of the pop music parody, jumping from genre to genre with an attention to musical and visual detail which pushes things truly over the edge of hilarity. How lucky we are that Yankovic performs that way.

Setlist

Polka Face
Frank’s 2000 TV
You Don’t Love Me Anymore
Smells Like Nirvana
Skipper Dan
You’re Pitiful
Perform This Way
CNR
Let Me Be Your Hog
Canadian Idiot
Wanna B Ur Lovr
Medley including Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies, Whatever You Like, eBay, Another One Rides the Bus, Ode to a Superhero, Trapped in the Drive-Thru, Gump, Eat It
Craigslist
Amish Paradise
White & Nerdy
Fat

Encore

We All Have Cell Phones, So C’mon Let’s Get Real
The Saga Begins
Yoda

Noozhawk contributor Jeff Moehlis is an associate professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his Web site, music-illuminati.com.

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