I became a "Weird Al" Yankovic fan in junior high--pretty much the same as every other Weird Al fan. "Eat It" had just come out, and the very concept of a song parody was novel to us--much less his scene-by-scene remake of Michael Jackson's "Beat It" video. Classmates--and I'm talking the cool kids, not just the geeky types like me--were transcribing the lyrics from the radio and passing them around in class. Follow that up with "I Lost on Jeopardy" and I was hooked. I tracked down his debut album and did a killer record mime to "Mr. Frump in the Iron Lung" that even won me a trophy in speech and drama competition. Then came Dare to be Stupid and Polka Party and Even Worse. When I got to college I hit that stage where I thought I'd outgrown him, but then Yankovic unleashed "Smells Like Nirvana" I just about injured myself laughing so hard. Which is a long way of saying it's inexplicable that I hadn't actually seen him in concert until last night in San Antonio's Majestic Theatre. We gave Bug tickets for his birthday back in the spring, as my son--an aspiring class clown--professes that Weird Al is his hero. He's 9 years old, which is pretty much a great age to get hooked on parody. Having been a fan for decades, I thought I knew what to expect. Boy, was I wrong. Weird Al is wildly entertaining in person. His videos and television and movie appearances are amusing, but don't convey his showmanship and sense of timing. The Wife, who likes some of his parodies but is hardly a fan, laughed nearly continuously from start to finish in spite of herself. A friend visiting from Australia (who had only passing familiarity with him) went along as we had an extra ticket, and afterward admitted she hadn't expected to enjoy herself but was, in the end, blown away. here. Again, that doesn't do it justice. Even though the chant is composed in large part by fragments and snippets of other songs, choruses and onomatopoeia, the complexity and harmony and dissonance and unison delivery was a thing to behold--even if it was baffling and incomprehensible. I'm sure there are Weird Al superfans out there who've memorized it all, but the original composition and arrangement of such a Frankenstein's monster of an a capella piece takes a certain kind of insane genius I don't think the world has seen before outside of Frank Zappa. And I don't think Zappa himself ever pulled off something quite like this.
Chicken Ranch Central