You can liken the degree of difficulty of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s act to political cartooning. Just about everybody has three good cartoon ideas, and maybe you can even draw them passably well. Fine, that gets you as far as Wednesday. Now what, for the rest of the week or month or year, or lifetime?
Yankovic makes song parodies look easy, but try doing it for more than 30 years. Three-plus decades in, Yankovic is bigger than ever. He topped the Billboard charts for the first time last year, and his “Mandatory Fun” tour drew a decent weeknight crowd of close to 4,000 to Cary’s Booth Amphitheatre on Thursday.
People still turn out for Yankovic because he’s incredibly skilled at crafting cultural time-capsules starring himself. He’s also about the last word in appealing adolescent silliness; my 16-year-old son came along, and he loved it.
Yankovic has been around long enough and made enough of a cultural impression to have lots of material to draw from, too. He’s had enough hits that he had to resort to medleys to get to them all, and even that wasn’t enough. There were costume changes after almost every song, and video-screen montages of Yankovic’s numerous multi-media appearances in cartoons, movies and talk shows filled the time.
It also helps that Yankovic has one of the best bands out there, an ensemble that capably pulled off approximations of Devo, Nirvana, Green Day, Michael Jackson and Pharrell Williams with turn-on-a-dime precision.
Yankovic made his entrance as the band vamped on “Tacky” (a rewrite of Williams’ 2013 megahit “Happy”), first appearing on the big rear-stage video screen from alongside the backstage pond at Regency before circling through the parking lot and finally the crowd, exuberantly serenading everyone in his path.
(Because I’m tacky)
Wear my Ed Hardy shirt with fluorescent orange pants
(Because I’m tacky)
Got my new resume, it’s printed in Comic Sans…
It was as triumphantly goofy an entrance as you’ll ever see.
Thursday’s show featured Yankovic’s obligatory polka medley, goofing on hits by Miley Cyrus, PSY, Gotye and others, plus first-rate send-ups of Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Lorde and the Triangle’s own Southern Culture on the Skids (for which he donned a trucker’s cap).
Sadly, however, the weather did not permit the full-on experience and cut the show short. With storms and lightning rolling in, Booth management called a halt after a bit more than an hour, so we did not get the “Star Wars”-themed material that was to close the show.
But for the time Yankovic was onstage, it was about the best stupid fun you could have.