Sunday 20 October 2019

Review: Weird Al Yankovic, Vicar Street - 'Pop pastiche falls short of comedy gold'

Comedy: Weird Al Yankovic, Vicar Street

Weird Al Yankovic
Weird Al Yankovic

Ed Power

Parody pop paragon Weird Al Yankovic is an icon in America - name-dropped by Stephen Colbert, invoked in Hollywood romcoms, pressed into service as a punchline in Naked Gun movies. When his recent album Mandatory Fun topped the Billboard charts it became the first comedy record to reach number one in 50 years

In this part of the world in contrast Yankovic (55) is a stuttering presence on the cultural radar, the comedic equivalent of one of those imported US candies with flavours that are slightly out of key. We recall, vaguely, his Michael Jackson skits ('Beat It' re-imagined as 'Eat It', 'Bad' becoming 'Fat') and that riff on Nirvana's 'Teen Spirit' that sounded exactly like the original (how to satirize something that was devastatingly satirical to begin with?).

But do we actually find him funny? As his first ever world tour rolled into Dublin it was an open question. To be fleetingly amused by a Lorde re-purposing entitled 'Foil' is one thing. To sit through 90 minutes plus of terribly serious pop pastiche is another matter entirely. 

In the end two elements rescued the performance. First, a genuinely titter-worthy between-song compilation of Weird Al archive moments - hilarious even presented entirely without context. Secondly, his best tunes - eg the Pixies-pastiching 'First World Problems', and the Lady Gaga skewering 'Perform This Way' - so accurately channel the source material as to be enjoyable strictly at cover-band level. 

What the evening lacked was real, chortle-in-your-beer hilarity. Not that this detained a room of hooting fan boys/gals, who cheered even the wheeziest gag as though it were a sprinkling of comedic gold dust. Weird Al is a master of cracking people up even when he isn't being funny. It's a singular gift - one he has learned to exploit ruthlessly.

Irish Independent

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