116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Touring behind a set primarily composed of deep cuts is bandied about on occasion by recording artists, but few follow through with such a daring concept.
Weird Al Yankovic, however, is doing just that with his aptly titled, “The Unfortunate Return of the Ridiculously Self-Indulgent Ill-Advised Vanity Tour,” which stops Tuesday for a sold-out show at the Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids.
During a recent performance in Bend, Ore., Yankovic, flanked by his four-piece band, avoided the hits until the encore. It takes guts to attempt such a feat but it also requires a loyal fan base preferring a tour that dusts off buried treasures. This time around, he’s featuring his more obscure original songs and going bare-bones with just his band — no high theatrics, wild costumes and video screens.
What: Weird Al Yankovic, with Emo Phillips opening
Where: Paramount Theatre, 123 Third Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids. will open.
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 19, 2022
Tickets: SOLD OUT; creventslive.com/events/2021/weird-al-yankovic2
COVID protocol: Proof of COVID-19 vaccination, or negative testing within 72 hours of the show (plus matching photo ID) will be required for all ticket holders to obtain entry to the venue. Vaccination proof will be your physical vaccine card (cannot be on digital phone).
Artist’s website: weirdal.com/
Yankovic, 62, clearly knows what he's doing, since much of his tour is sold out and for good reason. No one is remotely like the master parodist. Check out YouTube and attempt to sit through any other painful spoof. Yankovic has turned parody into an art form.
The quirky comedian has outlived several of the recording artists he’s parodied, including Nirvana and Michael Jackson, but Yankovic continues to create sendups in an inventive manner.
Who could have guessed he would enjoy such a career?
“I’m mystified,” he said. “It feels kind of surreal. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I was supposed to be a footnote in pop culture history. ... I’m fortunate people still care.”
The brainy accordion player, who started kindergarten a year early and skipped second grade, has written more than 150 parodies and has sold more than 12 million albums.
He will be the first to note that song parodies are difficult to compose.
“People sometimes denigrate parodies, but they’re not easy to do well,” he said. “Anybody can goof on a song. There are so many people who do it on YouTube, but to do it in a clever way and sustain that for three-and-a-half minutes is not easy.”
It’s an honor to be parodied by Yankovic. Most recording artists love when he mocks their material.
“Kurt Cobain said that he didn’t make it until I did my parody,” Yankovic said. “When I did Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ Kurt asked if it was going to be about food since I was doing a lot of food parodies back then. I told him it was going to be about how nobody can understand what he’s singing and he said, ‘That's funny.’ Kurt was a good sport and an incredibly cool guy.”
For more than a generation, recording artists have approached Yankovic to ask if he would parody their songs.
“I just tell them, ‘Take a number and we'll get to it.’ ”
But not everyone has been thrilled with his work. Coolio took exception with Yankovic’s parody of “Gangsta Paradise.”
“Since I ask permission before I do a parody, I’m typically good with everyone,” Yankovic said. “However, Coolio was upset about my parody of ‘Gangsta Paradise’ with ‘Amish Paradise.’ But that’s water under the bridge now. But before that worked itself out, Coolio and I were on a flight back then (from Los Angeles to Toronto) and I don’t like confrontation, so I hid behind a newspaper during the entire flight since we were both in first class. But it’s all good between us now.”
If Yankovic wasn’t a Dr. Demento devotee and just devoured comedy radio during the early ’70s, who knows if he would have ever become a musical pioneer.
“I was on my way to a regular job, but I ended up doing what I was meant to do with my life,” he said. “Not everybody has that opportunity. I’m thankful every day that I can write, record and tour. It’s been an amazing life and there’s more to come.”