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Weird Al for over Half a Century!
by Karma Waltonen

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Weird Al Yankovic turned 51 on October 23rd. The first time one of his songs was played was 1976, when I was a tiny baby (he was in high school). Yes, Weird Al has had a career that basically is as long as my life.

I discovered Weird Al when my stepfather brought home the single of "Eat It" on vinyl. This was supposed to encourage me to not be a picky eater. All it did was inspire a decades-long love of Al.

Are lyrics to a Weird Al song in my one published book? Did I watch every single Weird Al video on Saturday in celebration of his birthday? Have I seen Weird Al perform live five times? Yes. Yes. And yes.

I would love my next book to be about Al. An authorized biography came out in 1985, but that was a quarter of a century ago! Surely it's time for another one. Al's biographical style is never straight, however—each project combines fact and fiction. Thus, my book would have to be a cross between William Shatner's awkward interview with Al on RAW NERVE, where he meanly tries to make Al cry about his parents' death, and this FUNNY OR DIE piece:


I think all the details I made up would be a lot like those in Al's video parody biography of Charles Nelson Reilly:


Among the real things I would have to talk about would be the fact that Al skipped a grade, went to Cal Poly to study architecture (that's not the only reason why it's my son's first choice of college, but it helps), has outlasted most of the artists he parodied, writes completely awesome non-parody songs, and has a great career as a voice-over actor and as a director.

I would note that artists' responses to Al seem to be completely in line with whether they're awesome or not. Madonna gave Al the idea for her parody. Kurt Cobain said Al was a genius. Mark Knofler agreed to a parody—as long as he could do the guitar part. In contrast, Coolio said he didn't give parody permission even though he did. Eminem allowed a parody, but then said Al couldn't do a video. Prince (the artist
Al & Karma

Al & Karma
formerly and currently known as completely full of himself) has never allowed a parody.

I would mention Al's relationship with THE SIMPSONS, because I just can't help myself. Al is one of the very few stars to be featured as themselves twice on the show.

I would also talk a lot about his band. Al has basically had the same band since college. They're so good that people often forget about them—that is, they can do so many styles flawlessly that people fail to realize how amazingly versatile they are.

Du has written a great column on Al's one big feature, UHF: http://www.matchflick.com/column/1773. Al has apparently just started directing a super-secret feature this fall. Du, I call dibs on writing about that first when it comes out!

In the meantime, I'll leave you with "White and Nerdy":

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Comedies with Dr. Karma
Every other Wednesday

Dr. Karma discusses all things comic, from the classics to what may become classics. Laugh with, but not at, her, please.

Other Columns
Other columns by Karma Waltonen:

Goodbye -- Dr. Karma

The Dictator and Dark Shadows

Pirates and Whedon Movies: In Theatres Now!

A Touch of Cult

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Karma Waltonen
Dr. Karma is a silly, nerdy know-it-all, but in a good way. She brings all her overeducation to discuss that which truly matters: comedy. As some famous guy once said: “And if I laugh at any mortal thing, ‘tis that I may not weep.” Or something like that.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Karma Waltonen by clicking here.

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