Like many nerds of the 80’s, Weird Al Yankovic had a huge influence on my formative sense of humor. I still appreciate his work (that is, I crank it up in the car and tell my children that if they don’t like it they are dead to me) and I envy his career.
He gets paid to make funny songs (and has for 40+ years), amazing!
Growing up, my personal theme song was an early Weird Al tune called “I’ll be Mellow When I’m Dead”. Those who know me will not be at all surprised by this. For those who don’t, let’s just say that I was energetic.
And I’m still energetic, which might make some of you wonder if that is still my theme song. It is not. I have changed, matured, and found that I love a good drunken dance party, which is why my new theme song is DJ Snake’s masterpiece “Turn Down for What”.
The best thing about Weird Al is that he is weird.
Weird Al’s weirdness drew me in. When I was a kid, as now, most people wrote songs about being in love, or how cool they were. But Weird Al wrote songs about wanting a new duck, or being some kind of Amish gangster. He turned Bohemian Rhapsody into the best fucking polka of all time. That’s weird! And I loved it.
Weird Al’s ability to just be weird taught me an important lesson for a kid to know: It’s ok to be weird, everyone’s weird, and we like weird stuff. That’s life affirming information.
The second best thing about Weird Al is that he relentlessly pokes fun at popular culture.
I was a Class V Nerd in my younger years, which meant that my friends and I generally despised everything popular. Sports, fashion, celebrities, the concept of the nation state—you name it. If it was cool, we thought it was dumb.
But here’s the thing about hating on pop culture for no real reason—it gets lonely. For me, Weird Al was the lone voice catering to our tiny band of outcasts. He was, for quite some time, the only artist I really listened to.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that he saved me—I wasn’t suicidal or anything. But music can move people in a way that few other things can, and while the other kids were gettin’ moved by Madonna and The Backstreet Boys, I was soaking up the vibes of “Christmas at Ground Zero” and “I think I’m a Clone Now”.
And those were the right vibes for me. Which is to say, it’s partly Weird Al’s fault that I’m such a sarcastic weirdo.
So, Weird Al, if you somehow ever read this—Thank You.
Were you a Weird Al fan growing up (or now)? Do you have a favorite Weird Al song? Let me know! You can reply to this email or click the headline to open the web version and reply in the comments.