Weird Al Yankovic and the importance of being funny

By Jason Kron

Dull minds everywhere differentiate comedy music from "real art", separating the funny from the humorless creative expression that is put on a pedestal amongst the so-called musical elite. What these dull minds keep forgetting is that being funny isn't easy. Being able to make someone laugh is as much of a talent as being able to move them to tears with the beauty of your work. Maybe the two aren't even mutually exclusive. Maybe artistic work in the goofball realm can be as cathartic for its creator and audience as the darkest of the dark.

This brings me to Alfred Matthew Yankovic, aka Weird Al. In 2004, his elderly parents died from carbon monoxide poisoning in their home. Hours after being notified of the tragic news, Yankovic performed his scheduled concert in Wisconsin. This exemplifies two traits of his personality that explain his long success. 1.) An otherworldly work ethic, and 2.) An arguably unhealthy connection with comedic performance and its power to heal. He later said of his performing in the wake of his parents' deaths, "Since music has helped my fans through tough times, maybe it would work for me as well." This kind of impactfulness doesn't happen without substantial substance in the work, and it's happened to come from someone who's not only The Beatles of comedy music but also the only person who's maintained a lengthy superstar-level career by making the said style of music.

Over the course of forty years and fourteen albums, Weird Al has united countless walks of life with a style of clean humor that's practically extinct in our society. Not that there's anything wrong with vulgar jokes, but it speaks volumes of Weird Al's genius that he can continue to thrive in a world where he seems to be the lone warrior of his kind left, when even Presidential statements are R-rated and most wholesome comedy of days past is viewed today with a sense of irony. Not only as Weird Al transcended that, but he's also made a career that has eclipsed and outlived much the careers of most of his subjects for parody. It doesn't hurt that most of his songs can be appreciated for their jokes that exist separate from the lyrics of the songs he's satirizing. (For example, you can understand the food jokes in "Eat It" even if you for whatever insane reason have never heard "Beat It".) Nor does it hurt that his own image and personality are as iconic as any he's tried to mimic. The combination of the curly do, the mustache, the glasses, the Hawaiian shirt, and the accordion are now practically copyrighted by Yankovic, and his crazy-eyed energy would shine through regardless of what he was doing.

His most recent undertaking has been performing selections from his past catalog with a full orchestra. Weird Al shows are an extreme example of hard work, to begin with (every single song requires a costume change and the man shreds on accordion), but the orchestra symbolizes the proper respect for a true songwriting genius. It's generally the next level for a musician when they want to show off the overlooked compositional prowess of their work, hence the orchestra performance being utilized by everyone from Paul McCartney to Metallica. Weird Al will surely lampoon some of the classic tropes of a classical concert, as usual creating a mirror reality that thumbs its nose at the reality that takes itself too seriously while simultaneously paying homage to it. It takes brilliance to pull this off in so clever a fashion, which is why Weird Al Yankovic will be studied in future schools as the person who broke the most ground in funny music up to this point, assuming that future schools give funny music the respect it deserves.

Weird Al Yankovic performs at 8 p.m. August 3 at Comerica Theatre, 400 West Washington Street, Phoenix.

WhistlePig + Alfa Romeo F1

SHOREHAM, VT (September 13, 2023) — WhistlePig Whiskey, the leaders in independent craft whiskey, and Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake are waving the checkered flag on a legend-worthy release that’s taking whiskey to G-Force levels. The Limited Edition PiggyBack Legends Series: Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is a high Rye Whiskey selected by the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake drivers, with barrels trialed in their wind tunnel to ensure a thrilling taste in every sip.

The third iteration in WhistlePig’s Single Barrel PiggyBack Legends Series, the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is bottled at 96.77 proof, a nod to Valtteri Bottas’ racing number, 77, and the precision of racing. Inspired by Zhou Guanyu, the first Chinese F1 driver, this Rye Whiskey is finished with lychee and oolong tea. Herbal and floral notes of the oolong tea complement the herbaceous notes of WhistlePig’s signature PiggyBack 100% Rye, rounded out with a juicy tropical fruit finish and a touch of spice.

Keep readingShow less
by Spectrum Medical Care Center

Nurse Practitioner Ari Kravitz

When I started medical transition at 20 years old, it was very difficult to get the care I needed for hormone replacement therapy because there are very few providers trained in starting hormones for trans people, even though it’s very similar to the hormones that we prescribe to women in menopause or cisgender men with low testosterone.

I hope more providers get trained in LGBTQ+ healthcare, so they can support patients along their individual gender journey, and provide the info needed to make informed decisions about their body. I’ve personally seen my trans patients find hope and experience a better quality of life through hormone replacement therapy.

Keep readingShow less

Descanso Resort swimming pool and lounge area

Descanso Resort, Palm Springs' premier destination for gay men, just received Tripadvisor's highest honor, a Travelers' Choice "Best of the Best" award for 2023. Based on guests' reviews and ratings, fewer than 1% of Tripadvisor's 8 million listings around the world receive the coveted "Best of the Best" designation. Descanso ranked 12th in the top 25 small inns and hotels category in the United States. Quite an accomplishment!

Open less than two years, Descanso Resort offers gay men a relaxing and luxurious boutique hotel experience just minutes away from Palm Springs' buzziest restaurants, nightclubs, and shopping. Descanso has quickly established itself as a top destination for sophisticated gay travelers, earning hundreds of 5-star guest reviews and consistently ranking in Trapadvisor's top positions alongside brother properties Santiago Resort and Twin Palms Resort.

Keep readingShow less