There are no costumes, no sketches, and shockingly to some, no parodies. It’s all Yankovic originals, and it’s about damn time, really
He may not be a household name in Australia or even in his home of the US, for that matter. Still, the acerbic and cerebral comedy of Emo Philips is legendary within the industry. Primed with his trademark bowl cut and an over-the-top fashion sense, the East-Coast alt-comic delivers an onslaught of weird and wonderful gags to the Palais crowd - punctuated with maniacal restlessness as he flails wildly with each punchline.
Philips’ truly unique stage persona has paved the way for the likes of Noel Fielding, Paul Foot, Sarah Squirm, Sam Simmons and many more voices in comedy. While his work certainly isn’t for everyone, seeing him perform to a sold-out crowd so far from home is a worthy bucket list experience in itself.
Despite the countless interviews, press releases, social media posts, and the literal title of the show, there are apparently still plenty of folks heading to The Unfortunate Return of The Ridiculously Self-Indulgent Ill-Advised Vanity Tour expecting the standard Weird Al Yankovic fare. There are no costumes, no sketches, and shockingly to some, no parodies. It’s all Yankovic originals, and it’s about damn time, really.
For nearly five decades now, the Californian humorist has been weaving musical comedy gold. Accordion in hand, he has satirised the smash hits of Madonna, Queen, Coolio, Nirvana, and so many others, but all the while he has penned his own works as well. Now, these Yankovician compositions are centre stage, finally getting the recognition they deserve.
Kicking off with '93s Young Dumb & Ugly, Weird Al and co - his longtime bandmates stretching back as far as his first-ever gigs - waste no time in setting the superb energy of the show. In a set-up that resembles an MTV Unplugged or one of those “An Intimate Evening With…” type events, the five-piece stay seated at the front of the stage for the duration of the performance. However, the seasoned musicians are a powerhouse to behold, maintaining liveliness and vivacity throughout.
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Across the night, Yankovic interjects with some incredible behind-the-scenes tales about coming up with fan favourites like the palindromic odyssey of Bob or the epic tale of Skipper Dan. It’s difficult sometimes to say for certain what aspects of the tales are real and what’s been exaggerated, but anyone who’s seen his 2022 biopic Weird: The Weird Al Story will be very attuned to this sort of reality-twisting from the comedian.
What’s truly wonderful to witness is how the Eat It hitmaker has refused to rest on his laurels despite his phenomenal career. While many would be happy to roll out the old hits and call it a day, Yankovic updates references and gags in hits to better hit home with a modern audience. It’s this testament to his diligence as a performer that cements him as not only a legend of musical comedy but one of music in general. At 63, he is still trying to make the best version of his art he can and surely will continue to do so for many years to come.
The Unfortunate Return of The Ridiculously Self-Indulgent Ill-Advised Vanity Tour proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Yankovic is so much more than a parody performer. Though perhaps not as recognised, his works are just as brilliant as his tongue-in-cheek versions of famous tunes.
The incredible musicianship of guitarist Jim West, bassist Steve Jay, pianist Ruben Valtierra and percussionist Jon “Bermuda” Schwartz brings home the brilliance of the night. The stalwarts of the Weird Al brand have been playing these shows as far back as the early ‘80s, and that professionalism to the art shines in multitudes. Finishing up with a rip-roaring rendition of Talking Heads’ Psycho Killer and a massive surprise finish, Yankovic and his team end on a tremendous high.