Why do we love "Weird Al" so much?
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I'm not sure when exactly "Weird Al" became a verb for my partner and I, but for years now one of us will change song lyrics from the poetic to the ridiculous and the other will say something like, "Oh, you're 'Weird Al'-ing it again."
Maybe it's because we're white and nerdy – which is the title of his highest charting song – or because we came of age in the '80s and watched "Weird Al" Yankovic's MTV videos of "Eat It" and "Like A Surgeon" almost as much as we ate microwaved food. (And that's saying a lot because the microwave was the Kitchen Goddess' Gift To Moms Everywhere in the '80s.)
But surprisingly, we just never really stopped Weird Al-ing – and neither did Weird Al himself. Thirty years later, he continues to retain old fans, attract new ones and sell out venues everywhere, including Milwaukee.
Earlier this week, The Pabst Theater announced it was adding a second "Weird Al" Yankovic show on Monday, April 9, after the first show scheduled for Tuesday, April 10 sold out.
It's been almost four years since Yankovic released a new album – "Mandatory Fun" came out in 2014 – and yet his current tour, called "The Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour," is even more successful than tours past.
How is this happening? Why do we love Al's weirdness?
Matt Beringer, talent buyer for The Pabst Theater, believes this tour is different from the others and viewed as a rare opportunity to fans.
"'Weird Al' fans are really excited for the opportunity to see him perform deep cuts from his library instead of the usual parodies. It's a unique opportunity," says Beringer. "Seemingly, 'Weird Al' is much more diverse than people may think … this tour may be proof."
How, exactly, is "Weird Al" appealing to so many instead of annoying?
OnMilwaukee's Jimmy Carlton reviewed the "Weird Al" show at Summerfest in 2016. In the article, he not only confesses to having a "Weird Al" cover band as a kid but also admitted that the now 58-year-old singer has a "time and a place."
"Fortunately for me and most of the rest of the crowd, that time is apparently everlasting, and that place is definitely Summerfest," Carlton wrote.
"Weird Al" is extremely human to many. He's an unperfect mix of sincerity and parody, goofy and clever, sweet and vulnerable. He works hard and yet he takes himself lightly – like many Milwaukeeans.
After reading an OnMilwaukee interview from 2011, I realized "Weird Al" might have actually answered the question himself. Or at least partially.
"At this point, my audience has a pretty varied demographic. It's family bonding music. There will be grandparents, parents and grandchildren at my concerts. When I started, my audience was primarily teenaged boys, but over time, this has changed. And there's always a whole new crop of 12-year-olds that appreciates a parody."
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