White and nerdy

There’s something not right about the California State Fair. On the surface, everything appears to be a cornucopia of fun—our state patting itself on the back for producing amazing artists and bountiful harvests gathered by the proud working class, but when you get there, you also get a slap in the face. It’s hot. There are too many people. The county exhibits take a paper-mâchéd turn for the absolute worst, just one level above “It’s a Small World” in its blind oversight of the gritty truths of our world. And is it even necessary to mention the stereotypes about carnies?

But at least there was Weird Al Yankovic.

Prior to Weird Al’s State Fair concert on Labor Day, the speakers blared the usual blend of music designed to appease everyone impatiently waiting for the concert to begin. Madonna, P. Diddy, Green Day, Nirvana, Billy Joel and Don McLean ticked off in succession, and it became apparent that the versatile play list could act as a “who’s who” list for Weird Al parodies. The musical jester transcends genres—and for more than 25 years, he’s made a name for himself turning pop hit after pop hit into cult parodies. But we don’t love him because he makes us laugh; we love Weird Al because he is the real deal.

When you’ve gorged on countless foods never designed to be deep fried and you’re constantly evading the smell of bullshit—literally and figuratively—it’s refreshing to see a concert that is, at its very core, pure. Despite a minimum of 12 costume changes during his concert, Weird Al is what he is, and has never claimed to be anything else. The prince of parody is here to make you laugh. He’s here to act silly until you can’t help but chuckle at the seriousness our culture has embraced. The song parodies and sight gags in his videos and concerts are exceedingly simple: Change a few words around, do a bad impression mocking the original artist and you too could be a Weird Al wannabe. But Yankovic goes 10 steps further. His body of work is complete with its own themes, motifs and inside jokes that unify hardcore fans the way only a cult performer can.

Thousands arrived on the closing day of the State Fair to see Weird Al perform, not simply because they knew he could make them laugh unashamedly at jokes usually dished-out by 7 year olds, but because his performances are an elevation of the musical art form. The concert was a predictable success. The veteran State Fair performer had adults and children laughing and cheering at the tiny mockeries of an overly serious society. Watching Weird Al perform “Fat,” his parody of Michael Jackson’s “Bad,” is like seeing Babe Ruth hit a home run—nobody can do it like him.