The final night of the Ottawa Bluesfest delivered a comedy sandwich offering one slice of Weird Al Yankovic the guitar mastery and nostalgic rock meat of Randy Bachman, and a superior slice of Bill Burr who's comedic set would have satisfied on it's own. It wasn't entirely expected that Weird Al would provide so many entertaining moments that spawned homogenous laughter throughout the fairly dense crowd that was beyond soundboard deep. This turned out to be a well scheduled warm-up for Bill Burr who could have appeared immediately aftewards to roll with the humourous vibe but the stage needed to be completely cleared for Bill's minimalist setup of a mic stand, stool, water and pack of gum.
Weird Al's set was both a handy reminder and bootcamp for those that knew him since the 80's, or others that only slightly know him. Using projection running behind the band, the crowd was offered an ADD laced onslaught of images and super short clips of Weird Al's deep integration in pop culture since the late 70's. While many might not have recalled a short bit from one of the 3 Naked Gun films, references from the Family Guy, or clips from Al TV were certainly more recent references.
Most of the multimedia on display was used to help seque from one song to another since nearly every song required a massive costume change. When the official 80's video for Fat launched, it was used as setup and background visuals for Al to return to the stage in a fatsuit to peform the song.
The number of parodies that came out, including costume changes, one after another with many including original videos in-sync on the background screen, spanning 3 decades was impressive including
(Happy - Pharrell Williams),
(Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke),
(Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana), and
(Lump - The Presidents of the United States of America). Most notably, his meta-parody of his parody of MJ's "Beat It" was performed in the style of Eric Clapton's selfie-remix of "Layla". The band were dressed more formally, seated and performed a
Smash cut to the opposite stage where Randy Bachman and his current band ran through a load of classics from Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and the Guess Who. It's quite amazing to see Bachman play these classic guitar riffs and even more so to recognize nearly every single tune.
After Bachman's set, Bill Burr was greeted with a very large, cheering crowd. He clearly has alot of fans in Ottawa, likely due to his Monday Morning Podcast, in which he most recently recollected his Bluesfest experience in the episode dropped this week (Ottawa wrap-up starts at 10 minutes in) which he of course recorded in an Ottawa hotel room over a depressing plate of carrots later that night.
Bill congratulated the crowd for "skating" their way to a "parking lot" to see him perform under the hot sun (his last visit here was in the winter and he commented in his podcast on how cool it was that the people of Ottawa go to work wearing skates along the canal). Of course he had to throw some hockey jabs out there and his disdain for the Habs overshadowed any cracks against the Senators. Around the 10 minute mark, Burr realized that he hadn't even started any of his material yet after just freeflowing up to this point, using inspiration from some of the audience.
Bill politely reminded one guy who was capturing video with is phone from the front that he might like to put out another comedy special with material that isn't already all over youtube, while also surgically shaming him to bits. Another guy brought a homemade sign that read "Just Checking In On YAAAAA!!!" which is basically his podcast catchphrase at the top of each episode. While the sign was a funny lone prop in the crowd, Ol' Billy boy didn't hold back the jabs, while he was at least a little humoured over the fan effort.
After entering into his material, he ran through current topical targets like Caitlyn Jenner, or his own personal life as a married guy, what he thinks of feminists and his take on racism. Anyone who might walk in on each of those bits, out of context, might walk away offended. Burr's material needs to be heard from start to finish. His views are usually a reflection of common ignorance, or general media perceptions on stereotypical behaviors. He makes fun of himself more than anyone else. It's really hard to describe, and it's much easier to direct attention towards one of his specials on Netflix, or even his podcast.