Playing the Hollywood Bowl is something most musical acts strive for in their career and is a great venue for fans to enjoy a concert, too. However, this weekend’s Hollywood Bowl “concerts” featured The Simpsons (as in Homer and Bart not Jessica or Ashlee) and a fun look back at 25 years of creativity presented by them. The evening featured music from the show – and a lot of excerpts – but felt more like a celebration of the “best” moments from a long-lasting (552 episodes so far) fan favorite TV show.
Hosted by Hank Azaria (the voice of Apu, Moe, Chief Wiggum and other offbeat characters), the Sept. 12 opening night of The Simpsons Take the Bowl, as three-evening celebration was billed, was ragged at times (Azaria repeatedly blamed lack of rehearsal). However, it seemed in keeping with the offbeat nature of the show the event feted, which will begin airing its 26th season on Sept. 28.
Besides honoring the television show, the evening also honored the iconic Hollywood Bowl, which was decked out for the three nights in a variety of Simpsons paraphernalia and cartoon cutouts along walkways. There were inflated doughnuts, Duff cans, and many women in the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra donned Marge blue wigs with their evening attire. But the best were the cartoon shorts featuring Homer, Marge and the kids going to the Hollywood Bowl. They parodied expensive versus normal parking for the Bowl (the bit had $1,000 valet prices or $5 “el cheapo” stacked parking with the cars wedged together), the long climb up the amphitheater hill to the least expensive seats, and Homer wanting to start the fireworks show at the bowl (the control panel had different fireworks occasions, including a cobweb covered Lakers Championship one).
Highlights of the fun concert moments included:
- Nancy Cartwright (the voice of Bart) and the entire Bowl cast performing Do The Bartman.
- Kipp Lennon, who was a Michael Jackson sound-alike singer who performed on the episode featuring Jackson, performed Lisa, It’s Your Birthday, singing to Yeardley Smith (the voice of Lisa) with clips playing overhead.
- “Weird Al” Yankovic performing his song, Homer & Marge (to the tune of Jack & Diane by John Mellencamp), which starts with the lyrics “Here’s a little ditty, ’bout Homer and Marge.”
- Conan O’Brien, who wrote for the show in the early ‘90s, performed The Monorail Song, which he described as a bad futuristic transit idea parody of The Music Man.
- The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles performed Spider Pig, We Do We Do and See My Vest, with appropriate costume or prop changes.
- There was a tribute to Danny Elfman’s theme for the show, with different versions of the show opening segment as it might be revamped by others, including Banksy.
- Beverly D’Angelo performed the song her character, Lurleen Lumpkin, did in The Simpsons Movie.
- Jon Lovitz (who referred to himself as JLo) performed Stop the Planet of the Apes, I Want to Get Off with lines like “from chimpan-a to chimpan-z.”
Knowing that the crowd was heavily an entertainment industry contingent (at least in the box seats), there were a lot of punch lines about the business. O’Brien joked about leaving Fox for the safety of NBC (an appropriately snarky comment about his Tonight Show experience). Azaria introduced an in memorium “tribute to those who are no longer with us” … Fox executives who reined during The Simpsons run.
One normal highlight of a weekend at the Hollywood Bowl is the fireworks over head, But Friday there were surprisingly out of place and out of synch, in spite of Homer’s yearning for them during The Simpsons Take the Bowl. They did not add to the celebration and, unlike on classical evenings or perhaps – as Azaria noted – more rehearsed ones, were not timed to complement anything on stage.
By Dyanne Weiss