A fun game: Listen to “Weird Al” Yankovic and take him deadly serious. Forget that he’s built a career lifting popular tunes from artists like Michael Jackson or Pharrell Williams. In 1988, Weird Al lampooned Jackson’s “Bad” with “Fat,” and on Yankovic’s 2014 release Mandatory Fun, he borrowed Pharrell’s “Happy” and made it “Tacky.”
Like any number of classic humorists, Yankovic uses familiar material (in this case, pop songs) to not just satirize the music or songwriter but to also roast us: our worries, anxieties, habits and curious peccadilloes, even the unknowable alchemy that makes a particularly silly tune more popular with the masses than any other silly tune.
Yankovic is playing a trick on you. You laugh and dance and maybe even glance askance at the person next to you. Surely this isn’t about me. Surely this is about you. For example, who thinks Mandatory Fun’s “First World Problems,” in which Yankovic recites a list of our contemporary first-world un-problems, is about people like them?
But who knows, maybe I’m reading too much into the work of a frizzy-haired goofball parodist who plays a mean accordion. I don’t want to kill all the fun.
Catch Weird Al’s Mandatory World Tour 7 pm Friday, July 29, at Cuthbert Amphitheater, or the joke will be on you; $33 general admission, $55 reserved seating. All ages.