Just For Laughs 2015: "Weird Al" Yankovic Sweeps Crowd With Free Show
It's a rainy Tuesday night in downtown Montreal. Not just drizzle but rather chaotic downpour. As I make my way to Just For Laughs' outdoor Videotron Stage, I am getting absolutely drenched. Perhaps I would have just stayed inside if it were any other night, but there is something special about this particular day: childhood hero and pop-culture phenomenon "Weird Al" Yankovic is bringing is "Mandatory Fun" tour to Montreal, absolutely free! Once I found my stop near the stage, something magical happens: the rain begins to fade! Soon after, a communist propaganda-like video appears on the screens of the stage, declaring "Prepare for mandatory fun!".
A thunderous roar is delivered from the crowd as the comedian and his backing and make their way to the stage. The night kicks off with "Now That's What I Call Polka", an accordion lead medley featuring some of the biggest Pop hits of the past few years.
When finished with the song, Al and the band fled the stage, leaving the crowd to view a series of "Weird Al" related videos, which included interviews from "Al TV", references from popular sitcoms, "Weird Al" television guest appearances, UHF! clips and many more (this happened every time the band left the stage).
Upon returning, Yankovic was dressed in an octopus costume and ice cream hat to perform his Lady Gaga parody, "Perform This Way". This served as the first of a whopping TWELVE costume changes. The rest were as follows:
- Fat suit for "Fat"
- Chef costume for "Foil"
- Kurt Cobain wig and stripped t-shirt for "Smells Like Nirvana"
- Black suit for "Party In The CIA", "All About The Pentiums"
- Plummer for "Handy"
- Canada-based blazer for "Canadian Idiot"
- Eric Clapton-inspired outfit for acoustic medley
- Gangster street wear for "White & Nerdy"
- Robin Thicke "Beetlejuice" VMA fit for "Word Crimes"
- Amish suit, hat and beard for "Amish Paradise" (he was carried off in a James Brown-esque baby blue cape)
- Luke Skywalker fit for "Yoda"
Each song had the crowd genuinely lit up with smiles through and throughout. For many, there is a certain nostalgia to seeing "Weird Al". "This is what I grew up on", said the college-aged kid next to me. "Excuse me?", interrupted his mother, "This is what I grew up on too!".
Since the eighties, Yankovic has been a consistent source of comic relief for generations upon generations. It is clear that his legacy only continues to grow, having spawned his first ever #1 album on the Billboard 200 only a year ago.
I've had the pleasure of seeing a slew of fantastic shows in my lifetime. This year alone, I've seen Tame Impala, Skrillex, Ghostface Killah and even Al's sworn enemy, Prince, to name a few. After seeing "Weird Al" Yankovic last night, I can honestly say that the man is one of the most dedicated and charismatic performances I have ever seen in 2015.
All photos are courtesy of Mathieu Deshayes.