Sunday, October 14, 2012

Reviews -- Louis C.K. and "Weird Al" Yankovic

Louis C.K - Riverside Theater
Oct 10, 7PM

During an 80-minute set Louis C.K. proved once again why he is the hottest act in comedy right now.

One of C.K’s ongoing themes in his material is the darker, more selfish side of humanity and he got right into it with a story about seeing an old lady fall down at the airport. The people around her immediately became a group participating in a game of “decency chicken,” with the unfortunate winner having to help her up. Naturally, Louis was the “loser.”

Like an amalgam of Jerry Seinfeld and George Carlin, C.K. covered a range of topics that included but were not limited to: sex, divorce (“No one ever says ‘My divorce fell apart!’”), “shitty brains,” and the wisdom of age.

On why older people are smarter: (paraphrased) “A 58 year old garbageman from Long Island knows way more than a 28-year-old with a triple PHD. The garbageman has probably seen a dead body, received a handjob that he never told anyone about … The guy with the three PHDs has been thinking about precisely three things for 15 years. He doesn’t know shit!”

On cell phone pictures at the Super Bowl: “You know, if you’d put the fucking thing down, the resolution is amazing!”

C.K. went on about male’s love of breasts and his own shlubby appearance -- “Skinny guys have it made. They’re asking “Which way to the easy pussy?” -- delivering his lines like heavyweight boxer, body blow after body blow.

In the end, he brought it back around to the darker side of humanity, delivering a couple of headshots.

One such shot pondered what would happen if murder would be legal. Naturally, there would be a lot more murders, particularly of children. C.K. punctuated that last point by using his mic stand to simulate the curbstomping of a misbehaving child.

The final piece was something Louis called “Of Course...But Maybe...” where he had a good, sane thought followed up by something completely insane: (again, paraphrased) “Of course, we should be sympathetic to kids with nut allergies. Parents should be educated on this...but maybe...if you touch a nut and die, you should probably just die. Parents could put their hands over their eyes for a year and a half on this issue, and we’d be rid of this problem.”

This went on about Make-A-Wish kids, equality of the sexes, race relations, and finally (I think) slavery. (Distilled, the last one basically said “Look at all the good shit slavery produced!).

Louis C.K. conquered the sold-out crowd, who rewarded him with a standing ovation. It wasn’t quite as strong as his previous two specials, but still miles ahead of anything else that’s out there. For one of, if not the, hardest-working men in show business you can’t possibly ask for any more.

“Weird Al” Yankovic -- Northern Lights Theater, Potowatomi Bingo & Casino
Oct 13, 8PM

It has been 13 years since I last properly saw “Weird Al” Yankovic.  And the emphasis is on seeing him.

You don’t go to hear Yankovic and his band -- excellent musicians though they may be -- you go to see the spectacle, which is on par with professional wrestling or a Las Vegas production show.

The spectacle was in full force on Saturday night.

He didn’t speak much to the crowd, but at one point Yankovic did quip “If you follow your dreams and tour for thirty years, you too can one day realize your dream of headlining the Potowatomi Bingo & Casino!”

Even though the new material fell a little flat for me on record, it came alive, well, live.

“Perform This Way,” the first single from Alpocalypse, found Al performing in a giant peacock suit flanked by a band in similarly bizarre outfits. “Craigslist,” a Doors pastiche, had Yankovic come out in leather pants and a ridiculous wig. Adding to the realism, Al stumbled around stage like Jim Morrison at his drunken, stoned worst.

In the highlight of the night, “Wanna B Ur Lovr” from Poodle Hat, Yankovic came out in a snazzy red-and-black zebra-print suit. He didn’t stay on stage for long as he made his way out into the audience to sing (and bump, and grind on) to his lady fans. It was hilariously awkward.

Not to be forgotten, the clips played between costume changes were funny as usual. The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Friends, and Jeopardy all paid respect to Weird Al’s status as a pop culture icon, while his trademark “interviews” showed off his twisted sense of humor every bit as well as his songs do. One bit -- imagining Al as the bandleader on the Titanic -- is so funny you just have to watch it.

Aside from his boundless energy and the multitude of costume changes, what also struck me was the attention to detail for some of the songs. For “CNR,” a White Stripes pastiche about Charles Nelson Reilly, Only the drummer and guitarist stayed out for the song. During “Smells Like Nirvana,” the bassist performed the entire song barefoot, much like Krist Novoselic was fond of doing in concert. Those little things add to the performance as a whole.

And really, that’s what a “Weird Al” show is -- a performance. It is less live concert and more choreographed routine. As a music fan, it’s disappointing to find out the set was almost exactly the same as his Comedy Central special. (I was hoping against hope for an encore of “Albuquerque” but no dice.) It’s disappointing to find out he does the same moves and same gags night in and night out. And as far as the lip syncing rumors are concerned, it was hard to tell from my vantage point definitively. I think he has a little help in places, but it seemed like most of the time it was him singing live. Those things -- much like learning wrestling is fake -- might take away from enjoyment of the show. But just like diehard wrestling fans, the illusion of reality is merely part of a joke we’re all in on. As a comedy fan, very few in the business can top what “Weird Al” Yankovic does.

Yankovic and band did their traditional encore of “The Saga Begins” -- complete with Darth Vader and a cadre of storm troopers -- and “Yoda.” Much like the previous 90 minutes, the crowd ate up every second of the two Star Wars classics. I’ve never been disappointed by a “Weird Al” show, and until he has to physically stop what he’s doing I don’t think I can ever be.

No comments:

Post a Comment