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Is this a little late for April Fools Day? Yes, it is. But I just got my power back after an unexpected storm caused considerable problems for my neighborhood on Tuesday. (Out like a lamb my ass.)

Anyway, a little holiday appropriate fooling around with Weird Al.


And a YouTube link, in case you don't see the embed above.

Hmm. I have his version of Peter and the Wolf around here somewhere. Oh, there it is.

Yes, I have a football on my nightstand

Al and I go way back. I first heard In 3-D — still my favorite Al-bum — while at summer day camp at Stone Mountain Park. (Which may be why "Nature Trail To Hell" remains one of my favorite tracks.) My brother gave me "Weird Al" Yankovic, his debut album, as a present in 1985. (I suspect that Mom and/or Dad actually bought it, probably at the Turtle's on Memorial Drive.) Polka Party came to me as a 11th birthday present at Six Flags Over Georgia. (It is the only thing I remember about that party, and possibly the only good experience I associate with that park.) And I spent weekends in 1989 recording lip-syncing videos to the UHF soundtrack. (I've written about my love for UHF before.)

My brother worked for a Hollywood agent for a few years after college in the 20-aughts, and the only celebrity that he met that made me star struck about was Weird Al. Trey bumped into in line at the post office. Trey had very nice things to say about both David Duchovny and Allison Janney, but that Weird Al goes to the post office himself makes him a bigger star in my book.

Keep on being weird, Al.

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I was in a lousy mood, so instead of watching something new, I turned to an old favorite: UHF.

I can't speak for everyone, but some movies I have a personal relationship with. For example, I remember where I was and who I was with the first time I saw The Princess Bride, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, and Robin Hood: Men in Tights. For UHF, I remember the first day I didn't see it.

"Weird Al" Yankovic's foray into movies hit theaters in the summer of 1989. The weekend after my brother and I returned from camp (Trey from Camp MacIntosh and me from Boy Scout Camp Burt Adams) in July, Mom and Dad took us to the local multiplex. I wanted to see UHF, but the rest of the family voted for Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. I remember selflessly offering to let the others watch their movie while I watched UHF alone in a different theater. Mom said no. I wouldn't get to see the film until it was rented from Blockbuster a few months later.

UHF was — and still is — a brilliant piece of comedy film making. Most of the film is commercial and film parody in the style of Kentucky Fried Movie overlayed with a plot combining The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and the work of Harold Ramis (where the plot isn't as important as the jokes). The space between the parodies is filled with plenty of good, old fashioned Marx Brothers-style screwball and wordplay. Yankovic is no Danny Kaye, but he's supported by a sterling cast including Michael Richards, Fran Drescher, Kevin McCarthy, Victoria Jackson, Billy Barty, Anthony Geary, and Emo Philips, among others. If you're not laughing at UHF, you have no sense of humor.

Unfortunately, the movie was a flop. I think this may in part be due to its incredible competition. In addition to Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, UHF was up against Batman, Lethal Weapon 2, When Harry Met Sally, License to Kill, Dead Poets Society, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Ghostbusters 2, Weekend at Bernie's, The Karate Kid 3, and Field of Dreams. Ye-ouch. Hell, about the only movie that was out that week that I still haven't seen is Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. (I've been thinking that it's about time I corrected that oversight.)

The performance of comedies are notoriously unpredictable, making financing difficult. I doesn't help when your comedy is dumped in the middle of the summer blockbuster season. Therefore, it's no surprise that there was never a follow-up. It may be a shame that the world was denied more of Yankovic's madcap antics on the big screen, but at least we'll always have UHF.

Thanks, Al.

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To be continued...

 

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