Monday, August 16, 2010

Danny Chronicles the WEEKEND OF EPICNESS: Weird Al in Concert, OC Fair, and MORE!

What up, everyone? So, I am here to tell the tale of a true weekend of epicness (maybe even epic epicness?). It's been a crazy month or two in general, but this past weekend was particularly insane. In a good way. The craziness began on Thursday evening with a screening of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World on the Universal Studios lot. It continued on Friday evening as me and some fellow hardcore badasses took in a showing of The Expendables. On Saturday, a band of intrepid explorers, in search of strange and unique fried foods and other oddities, journeyed to THE OC FAIR on a quest to eat, see the sights, and to see Weird Al Yankovic (!) in concert. On Sunday, I got the band back together, nWo-style, to head to the Staples Center to see the WWE's summer wrestlefest, Summerslam, live and in person, brother. So, yeah, it was an epic weekend indeed. I've already posted my reviews of Scott Pilgrim (awesome!) and The Expendables (disappointing ...). But, let me talk for a bit about the rest of the mega-weekend-o'-dooooom.


- Last year, I went to the OC Fair for the first time ever (back when it was known as The OC Superfair - no longer "super" I guess?), and had a really fun time. Going to the fair, I really felt like I'd been transported to another world. It's like a slice of Redneck County, USA in Southern California, and it is quite a place to visit. And this year's show was just as crazy and over-the-top as I remembered from last summer. Everywhere you look, there are ostentatious food stands, each one seemingly trying to outdo the others in terms of the sheer ridiculousness of the food being offered. Anything that can be deep fried ... is. There's Krispy Kreme chicken sandwiches, fried Twinkies, fried Reeses, fried Klondike bars, fried dough, fried butter (yep!), and everything in between. There's pizza, pizza on a stick, ice cream, ice cream in a cone, funnel cake, frog's legs, chocolate-covered bacon, chocolate-covered everything, sno-cones, shaved ice, and frozen lemonade. There's smoked turkey legs, pork butts, grilled chicken, charbroiled chicken, and fried chicken. Burgers, hot dogs, french fries, cheese fries, ranch fries, and apple fries. No food is too crazy-sounding (hello, Chocolate Charlies and Zuchini Weenies). No food too heart-attack-inducing (hello "Heart Attack Cafe"). No promotion of said foods too shameless, either - the bright facades and bold declarations of the various food stands are half the fun. It really is amazing to just walk around and see it all, and yes, perhaps sample a local delicacy or two. It's madness.

Meanwhile, there are all sorts of other random oddities and attractions to check out at the fair. Last year's highlight, Al's Brain, was back again this year. It's a hilarious 3D movie created by and starring Weird Al himself, and it's a real comedy gem. I'm not sure if there's any way for those who can't make the fair to check it out online or something, but I highly recommend seeking it out if you're a fan of Al (and who isn't?). It's a very funny and surprisingly very educational look at the way the human brain works, and it's packed with hilarious bits, and even has cameos from the likes of Fabio, Thomas Lennon, Patton Oswalt, and Paul McCartney! And it's in "eye-popping 3D." Sweeet. What else is at the Fair? Well ... an ice-museum, elephants, horses, other random livestock (including Hercules the Giant Horse, who's so freakishly big that he costs and extra dollar to see!), pig-races (yep!) acrobats, a giant market known appropriately enough as the Parade of Products, rides (most of them looking like something out of an amusement park from a 70's horror movie), carnival games, and more. Like I said, other than the nerd-friendly presence of Weird Al, it really does feel like you've just arrived at some random, super-sized Deep South county fair. You know, one of those "wouldn't want to live there, but super fun to visit" things. But man, what a place to visit.

In any case, it was a lot of fun just wandering the fair grounds, eating random semi-incredible / semi-gross foods, enjoying some quality people-watching, etc. Me, my brother, the G-Man, and Kyle O. drove down to the OC from Burbank, and then KC (fellow former Conan intern, current San Diego resident) met up with us. Good times indeed.

- But, of course, the main event of the trip was the WEIRD AL concert that punctuated the evening. The concert, the second of two back-to-back shows performed at the OC fairgrounds, at the nearby Pacific Ampitheater, was a rocking, hilarious, and most definitely epic show. I mean, I had heard that Al always puts on one heck of a show, but I came away from this one somewhat blown away by the guy. By the end of the show, I felt like we had just witnessed a comedy legend at the peak of his powers. Weird? Maybe. Awesome? Yes!

It was also just a really cool show in that the crowd was so diverse. There were a ton of kids and families there, which made the concert a lot of fun. I loved seeing ten and eleven year old kids going crazy for Al or maybe even discovering him for the first time. There were old-school fans, twenty-somethings, and teens. There were those of us who could recite the dialogue of UHF in tune with the clips that played between songs, and those who knew the lyrics of White & Nerdy by heart. Plus, all the kids there just gave me an added appreciation for just how funny Weird Al has always been able to be while remaining firmly in the PG realm of humor. I mean, honestly, how many other comedians can claim that? Al's humor is just flat-out genius at times, but never crosses certain lines. How much great comedy is out there that kids and adults can enjoy equally?

Also amazing is just how enduring Weird Al's career has been. It's pretty crazy and a little surreal to see him sing tunes from a catalog that dates back to the late 70's. This was especially true during songs like "Fat" and "Smells Like Nirvana." Michael Jackson and Kurt Cobain may no longer be with us, but, damn, there in front of me was Weird Al, still kickin' it, and performing parodies that were almost as much a part of a given pop-cultural era as the actual songs that inspired them. One thing about Weird Al though - he never rests on his laurels. The show contained plenty of new material alongside the classics. Sure, we got Fat, Dare to be Stupid, Beverly Hillbillies, Smells Like Nirvana, and Amish Paradise. But we also got White & Nerdy, Trapped in the Drive-Through, You're Pitiful, Canadian Idiot, Skipper Dan (a funny tune about a tour guide on Disney's Jungle Cruise ride), and CNR (a White Stripes parody all about TV icon Charles Nelson Reilly!). The show even opened with one of Al's trademark polka medleys, which included samples of Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, and Katy Perry.

Another unique thing about the concert was that Al does extensive costume changes between songs, so the short breaks between the music are an opportunity to sit back and partake in a mini Weird Al film festival of sorts, as clips from AL TV play, along with other random Weird Al TV appearances from throughout the years, plus talk-show appearances, voiceover work, bits from cult-classic comedy UHF, and more. Plus, Al seems to have carefully collected and assembled literally every clip of every time he's ever been mentioned on TV - from Johnny Carson to Family Guy. Just about all of the clips shown though - especially the Al TV faux-interview bits (where Al fake-interviews the likes of Eminen, Celine Dion, and Jessica Simpson) were legitimately hilarious though. So basically, the pauses between songs were almost as fun as the songs themselves.

The breaks also mean that Al can go all-out when performing his songs. He dons the classic fat-suit for Fat, Amish getup for Amish Paradise, a Devo suit for Dare to Be Stupid, grunge gear for Smells Like Nirvana, a Jungle Cruise tour guide outfit for Skipper Dan, and a hilarious pink pimp-suit for his song all about cheesy pick-up lines, Wanna Be Ur Lovr. The capper came during the uber-epic encore, in which Al and his band came onstage in full Jedi garb, flanked by an army of Storm Troopers and Darth Vader himself. Jedi Al then proceeded to pull a fast one on the crowd - instead of launching into "The Saga Begins," he randomly burst into the cheesy, one-line song "Everyone Has Cell Phones." Eventually, he got down to business though - he performed "The Saga Begins" (the Star Wars-inspired take on American Pie) as the crowd sang along in unison (My, my, this here Anakin guy - someday later he'll be Vader now he's just a small fry."). Al followed that with a rockin' redition of Yoda (his classic parody of The Kinks' Lola), and sent the crowd home happy.

Al really went all-out to put on an awesome show. He covered a ton of songs too, even performing abbreviated versions of hits like eBay, Bedrock Anthem, Ode to a Superhero, Gump, and Eat It in a parody medley. The crowd, young and old, was loving it, and Al was jumping around, dancing in the crowd, and having fun - I don't think the guy has lost a step. And his band is super-impressive to boot - the fact that they can effortlessly transition from Green Day to Coolio to Michael Jackson is pretty impressive.

All in all, it was definitely one of the most fun concerts I've seen, and definitely the funniest. Weird Al is quite simply the man. You've got to love the fact that he's still out there, still making kids and adults alike laugh and get into different musical styles. You've got to applaud the guy for basically being as funny and sharp as ever. A great night of comedy from an icon of funny - I can only conclude that Weird Al is a national freaking treasure, and that he deserves a monument or Nobel Prize or something. And if you dont' agree, well, all I can say is ... "yoooooou soooooooo stuuuupid!!!!!!!!" (sorry, had to get a UHF quote in there ...).

- The weekend of epicness didn't stop there though ... on Sunday, me, my brother, and the G-Man headed down to downtown (downtown LA that is) to attend WWE's SUMMERSLAM, live, up close, and personal. We had great, dead-center seats, so we were right there, ringside, for all the action. We saw the likes of Rey Mysterio, Kane, Chris Jericho, Edge, John Cena, and The Undertaker mix it up in a number of epic battles. We even saw the legendary Bret "The Hitman" Hart wrestle, a sight that made those of us in the crowd of a certain age nostalgic for old-school wrasslin', for the days when The Hitman was known around the world as the consummate champion and as the "excellence of execution." In short, it was a really fun event, and yes, a fitting end to the weekend.

And now it's back to the grind. It's already been a pretty intense week at work, but I've also been somewhat energized, still riding the high from the weekend of Scott Pilgrim, Sylvester Stallone, Weird Al, and The Hitman. Now, it's on to the next adventure ...

No comments:

Post a Comment