‘Weird Al’ Yankovic goes beyond parody at Indian Ranch

WEBSTER — When you think of “Weird Al” Yankovic, your mind naturally slides to other artists: His parodies of artists ranging from Michael Jackson to Nirvana, his polka medleys of pop hits. In a lot of ways, Yankovic himself is sort of a cypher: It’s hard to focus on him as an artist when he’s directing his attention to the subjects of his parodies.

Which is what made his Friday-night show at Indian Ranch so fascinating. A stop on his “Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour,” Yankovic spent most of the evening playing original material, and in doing so, highlighted not just his comedic skills but also his musicianship and, frankly, the sheer twistedness of his sense of humor. We all know Yankovic is funny — some of us have had “My Bologna” stuck in our head since they heard it on “Dr. Demento” in the 1980s — but this show gave us a glimpse at what’s underneath that, and that was fascinating.

Yankovic’s set began after a riotous stand-up set from comedy legend Emo Philips, which included a handful of jokes about the pronunciation of “Worcester” and Webster Lake’s real name, along with his answering some fake “emailed questions from the Telegram & Gazette. ” The local touches were great, and they well-set the stage for Yankovic.

Yankovic’s set kicked off with a rocking rendition of his ode to men with impossible standards in dating standards, “Close But No Cigar,” and a few things became immediately apparent. First off, Yankovic’s backing band is tight and enormously versatile. Comprising Steve Jay on bass, Jon “Bermuda” Schwartz on drums, Rubén Valtierra on keyboards and Jim West on guitar, the band could lay down a rock groove effortlessly and then switch up styles on a dime.

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