Make 'Em Laugh: "Weird Al" Yankovic's "The Alpocalypse Tour"


There are a select few comedians who use music as a large part of their delivery system, whether it’s comedians like Adam Sandler and Jimmy Fallon who work in the occasional acoustic guitar songs or Tom Lehrer and Stephen Lynch whose entire act stems from musical comedy, it’s a common device that funny men everywhere use to their advantage. Musical comedy guarantees neither fame nor obscurity, because for every time Adam Sandler’s “Turkey Song” and “Hanukah” get played on the radio during the holidays, Tom Lehrer’s “New Math” finds a new fan in an unfortunately smaller but just as appreciative audience. And while Sandler and Lehrer are both great in their own right, there is a clear king of lyrical comedy: “Weird Al” Yankovic, who could win by sheer quantity alone. The fact that most of it is hilarious and he a great showman only make his vast library even better.

That’s why when “Weird Al” goes on tour, they sell out, and thus it can be a challenge to get tickets. I guess that means releasing a DVD of his Al’s current Alpocalypse Tour is a pretty good idea.

As concert DVDs go, “Weird Al” Yankovic LIVE!: The Alpocalypse Tour does most things right and ends up as a decent substitute for the real thing. On one hand, you don’t get to sit there in person and soak up the sights and sounds of the concert atmosphere, but on the other hand you don’t have to wait for the costume changes between songs. And there are a lot of costume changes. In fact, Al changes his outfit for just about every song. From a grunge outfit to a safari shirt to a suit, the man definitely does his part to make the whole experience entertaining. For most songs he’s dancing about and jumping around unless, like in the case of “Ode to a Superhero”, a little extra instrumentation is required, Al will be a bit more stationary. Either way, the vibe is always fun and the song selection fairly balanced between the songs from his new album and the classics.

Really, though, does it matter? Unlike say Kanye West or any other big name that people will buy tickets to see just so they can say they did, the people going to see “Weird Al” are the ones who love his music all-around, and to his credit he’s put out a high-quality stream of hits even in the last decade. The concert is every bit as good when he rolls out on a Segway for “White & Nerdy” as when Al finishes up “Smells Like Nirvana” on the floor singing the last few lines of gibberish. These are the moments his career has cultivated for future concert perfection and he’s done well to keep them going for his fans. The best evidence of this comes with “Fat”, where the concert (and the DVD) starts the song with the opening of the spectacular music video and then segues (two “segues” in one paragraph, awesome) into Al singing the song live on stage in a fat suit. It would be a cheap gag if Al wasn’t so lively as he did it, making the whole thing a bit dissonant with reality. And isn’t that what we listen to Al for? To get away from reality for a little while? The use of his music videos actually marks a common theme for the concert as the big screens behind Al and the band are almost always playing clips from the music videos or stuff specially made for the concert.

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The concert ends with a one-two Star Wars encore punch, first with “The Saga Begins” (with a line of stormtroopers and Darth Vader behind him) and finishing with “Yoda”. Now, I haven’t seen “Weird Al” live in years, but apparently he’s started doing this scat chant thing where at the tail end of Yoda. (The song not the character, who may or may not have a tail. Has anyone ever seen him naked?) It’s a really odd thing to watch and it’s clear some of the audience knows it’s coming, but the rest seem equally caught off guard. Then it’s over.

Unless you go into the disc’s extras where three songs not included in the final concert presentation have been preserved including “Frank’s 2,000-Inch TV”, “You Don’t Love Me Anymore” and “You Make Me”. It’s not clear why these weren’t part of the overall presentation, but it’s nice to see “2,000-Inch” getting some onstage love. The best extra on the disc though is the College Humor short “The Band Played On” that has Al as the lead of the Titanic’s string quintet playing songs that don’t do much for morale. Yeah, it’s old, but it was an unexpected extra for the disc and great to watch again.

Lex Walker • Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.


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