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Wonder at the timeless weirdness of Al Yankovic in Medford

The ever-popular parodist will entertain Chevalier Theatre crowds on May 6 and 7.

"Weird Al" Yankovic will perform at Chevalier Theatre on May 6 and 7. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

One time when I was a child, my mother insisted that my older brother accept the meal that she had prepared by commanding of him, “Eat it!”

He responded by singing those words to the tune of one of the most recognizable songs of the early ’80s, Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”

It seemed like only months later that a curly haired, mustachioed, bespectacled fellow calling himself “Weird Al” Yankovic was all over MTV and radio thanks to his having also noted that the two phrases rhymed.

The accordion-wielding, Hawaiian shirt-outfitted oddball had previously released “My Bologna,” “Another One Rides the Bus,” “Ricky,” and “I Love Rocky Road.” However, it was only once “I Lost on Jeopardy” (one of my personal favorites) and “Like A Surgeon” appeared after “Eat It” that I and my friends came to count on regularly administered doses of Weird Al’s multimedia hilarity, which also took the form of television specials and the 1989 movie “UHF,” which was exactly as not-so-good but entertaining as it should have been.


The ’90s demonstrated that Yankovic was no Reagan-era fluke. His streak of gold and platinum albums continued as he took aim at Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Coolio, and even Don McLean’s “American Pie,” which Weird Al turned into “The Saga Continues” in order to tie it in with the contemporaneous arrival of “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.”

In the new millennium, pop’s prime parodist scored his first top 10 album (2006’s “Straight Outta Lynwood”), the biggest-selling single of his career (“White & Nerdy”), his first No. 1 album (2014’s “Mandatory Fun”), and joined erstwhile targets Michael Jackson and Madonna as one of only three artists to have reached the Billboard Top 40 in each decade from the 1980s through the 2010s when “Word Crimes” landed at #39 in 2014. (Since then, U2 and Kenny G have been the only new additions to that elite company.)

That Yankovic hasn’t released a new LP in eight years doesn’t mean that interest in him has evaporated. In fact, Daniel Radcliffe will be portraying him in a biopic scheduled to air on the Roku Channel this year.


Thus, the fact that I am writing about his two nearly sold-out shows at a 1,900-seat capacity venue near Boston nearly four full decades after I first heard his name is surreal on several levels. Be warned, though: The Medford stops come as part of “The Unfortunate Return of the Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour,” featuring Al’s non-parody (but still plenty funny) material, and a bare-bones production — no costumes, props, or video screens.

That’s right, it’s for the diehards. You know who you are.

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