For someone who got his start in the music business by recording his first single in the men’s room, “Weird Al” Yankovic has certainly come a long way. Forging a wildly successful career that has lasted three decades and counting, the master of musical parodies hit the stage at the Fox Theater in Oakland on Sunday night, proving that while his act is hilarious, his talents for showmanship and performance are no joke.
Throughout the nearly two-hour show, Yankovic was a tornado of comic energy, leading his band through selections from his entire catalog, starting with “Polka Face,” a medley of contemporary pop parodies from his latest record, Alpocolypse, which includes spoofs of current radio stars such as Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Justin Bieber, among others. Fan favorites like “Eat It,” “Amish Paradise,” “My Balogna,” and “White and Nerdy” drew wild applause from the audience, while lesser known, but equally gleeful tracks including “I Want A New Duck” and “Lasagna” were welcome additions to the set list.
When he first appeared on stage, Yankovic was dressed in his trademark Hawaiian shirt, but he and the band quickly began a series of fast-paced costume changes, running backstage between various songs while a series of videos were shown on giant screens above the stage. Entertaining clips of various pop culture references to Yankovic and from the likes of Johnny Carson and The Simpsons, mixed with segments cleverly edited to look like zany interviews between Yankovic and pop culture heads such as Eminem, Madonna, and Jessica Simpson.
Al and company wore a vast and dizzying array of costumes and grabbed props to match his iconic music videos, wardrobe included spot-on wigs and sweaters for “Smells Like Nirvana,” and headbands and a keytar for the Dire Straits take off “Beverly Hillbillies.” Yankovic even managed to pull off the look in the original clip of Michael Jackson spoof “Fat,” charging out in an over-the-top fat suit, and still somehow jumped around stage, singing and dancing without missing one uproarious beat.
While he is mainly known for direct parodies of specific songs, Yankovic has also comically mastered the art of synthesizing a band’s general sound and parlaying it into a
witty and humorous send up. Two of his best and more recent examples were “CNR,” his ode to actor Charles Nelson Reilly, done in the vein of the White Stripes, and “Craigslist,” a Doors-esque tune where he channeled his inner Jim Morrison, complete with leather pants and dark baritone intonations.
For the encore, Yankovic and band came back dressed as Jedi, and were flanked by a line of Stormtroopers and Darth Vader for a rendition of “The Saga Begins,” which tells a tongue in cheek tale of the life story of Anakin Skywalker set to the tune of Don McLean’s “American Pie.” When the song started, the Imperial troops and Sith lord stood at fast attention, but as the song picked up tempo, they broke character and started dancing about to hilarious effect.
Continuing with the Star Wars theme for his last song, Yankovic ended the entertaining show with “Yoda,” his tribute to everybody’s favorite Jedi master,
encouraging the crowd to chant along during the chorus.