A musician who has made a successful career parodying nearly every hit song since the early-’80s, “Weird Al” Yankovic has become the stuff of legend through his unique brand of comedy. During the late-night portion of his Mandatory Fun Tour doubleheader at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston’s theatre district last night (he’s back again tonight), “Weird Al” and his band were bound to bring a night of laughs and excitement for an energized crowd looking for their Tuesday night fix.
After a generic synth-funk rock introduction over the sound system, the lights dimmed and the audience was already infected with applause. Following a crazed slide show presentation of messed up clips including John Waters’ Divine and the demented online short Rejected, Yankovic kicked it off with the Pharrell parody of “Tacky” via a video of him coming out from backstage. “Weird Al” went into one of his many trademark polka medleys, “Now That’s What I Call Polka!”, featuring snippets from the likes of Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball”, Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”, Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” and nearly every other catchy pop song known to man with a flurry of bubbles wafting from the stage to the crowd.
It got even crazier when Yankovic and the band got dressed up in a bunch of weird costumes for the Lady Gaga parody of “Perform This Way”. At one point he wore a purple octopus garb to go along with an upside down smashed ice cream cone as a hat, while everyone else on stage wore outlandish costumes, especially bassist Steve Jay, in a skeleton suit with a top hat. I absolutely loved that along with a song making fun of the outlandish on stage antics of pop stars, they acted out being ridiculous as well. There were even more costume changes when everyone dressed up like Devo (complete red energy dome hats) for the parody “Dare To Be Stupid.” Yankovic put on makeup in record time to perform the Michael Jackson parody “Fat” and then everyone got all grunged out for his classic take on Nirvana’s “Smells Like Nirvana”. In between songs, to allow for costume and set changes, there were more slideshows showcasing Yankovic’s numerous references in pop culture, appearances in movies like Naked Gun and in the Youtube series Epic Rap Battles as Issac Newton, as well as his fake interviews with Celine Dion, Eminem, and R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe, which all provided a heavy dose of hilarity.
One of the many impressive moments of the show was when Yankovic and his band did this huge medley of songs one after the other while there was constant costume changing on stage. It was astounding to watch and hear him jump into the Miley Cyrus parody “Party In The C.I.A.”, then shift to the P. Diddy parody “All About The Pentiums” (a personal favorite) before launching into the Iggy Azalea burn “Handy” in just a matter of minutes.
And they weren’t even half way through. Hits like the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ lampoon “Bedrock Anthem”, The Presidents Of The United States Of America satire “Gump” and the Green Day parody “Canadian Idiot” were also included in the medley that concluded with a nuclear explosion of confetti. Another impressive moment was when Yankovic and the band did an unplugged session kicked off by the Michael Jackson imitation “Eat It” in the vein of Eric Clapton’s “Layla”. It proved that while there’s a joke to everything, it does take insanely talented musicians to pull this stuff off.
After the Chamillionaire take “White & Nerdy” and the Robin Thicke parody “Word Crimes”, the infamous Coolio spin “Amish Paradise” came through the speakers and a roar from the crowd took over the room with the entire theater waving their hands in the air like they didn’t care for an epic finale to an amazing performance. But they weren’t done yet. Within a few minutes of a brief intermission, people were chanting and clapping for more. The band got the audience revved up and they dressed like Jedis while Darth Vader and a bunch of Stormtroopers stood in the background. Starting off the encore with the made up Michael Stipe collaboration of “We All Have Cellphones, So Come On Let’s Get Real”, everyone waved their cell phones in the air. The band then transitioned to the Star Wars Episode 1 themed Don Maclean parody “The Saga Begins” and the crowd sung the ending chorus in emphatic fashion.
The keyboard driven “Play Ball!” resonated over the speakers and then another Star Wars themed track of “Yoda” took things over, an absolute ripper parodying The Kinks’ “Lola”. The crowd was singing the chorus and then Yankovic gave the mic to a guy who was tone-deaf that had Steve Jay in a daze of confusion. Going into a rapid fire a capella medley right back into “Yoda” for the encore finale, it was a fitting ending to a show chock full of the screwy and bizarre. You couldn’t deny how enjoyable and hilarious it was seeing Yankovic and his band on stage, bringing songs to life that are rooted in parody, but display a true brilliant in its songwriting and craftsmanship. The master was masterful.