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Al Essay

There are some people out there, as incomprehensible as it may seem, who dislike musical humorist "Weird Al" Yankovic. He has been dismissed by some as a jerk who makes a living by messing up other artists' music. There are some unenlightened souls that believe Yankovic has no talent or musical ability. There are also those who believe his brand of humor is the kind only eight-year-olds like. Some even think he is "stupid." I would like to put these ridiculous notions and others to rest.

"Weird Al" Yankovic has been entertaining the world with his humorous musical stylings for over two decades. He has sold over 10 million records, tapes, and CDs, making him the best-selling comedy artist of all time, certainly an accomplishment at which not to be sneezed (Schwartz 1).

Alfred Matthew Yankovic was born October 23, 1959 in Lynwood, California. He is the only child of his parents Nick and Mary. He has been playing the accordion for over 30 years; he took his first lesson the day before his seventh birthday in 1966. He was also an excellent student; he graduated from Lynwood High School in 1976 at the age of 16 as valedictorian of his class. He went on to study architecture at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo and graduated in 1980 with a Bachelor's Degree. All throughout his high school and college days, Al had been submitting funny tunes to Barry Hansen, better known as Dr. Demento, for the nationally syndicated Dr. Demento radio show and getting a good bit of airplay. Upon his college graduation, thanks to Dr. Demento, Al really started to pursue a career in music, and the world has never been the same (Epstein 95).

Yankovic has quite a prolific body of works, which includes eleven studio albums plus several compilation releases. Many of his album releases have achieved Gold status in the United States and Canada, not to mention Australia too. (Gold status equates to 500,000 album sales in the United States and 50,000 in Canada.) Several of them have achieved Platinum status as well. (Platinum status equates to 1,000,000 albums sales in the United States and 100,000 in Canada.) "Weird Al" Yankovic In 3-D, Dare to be Stupid, Even Worse, Bad Hair Day, and Running with Scissors have all been certified Platinum in the United States, just to name a few of his recording selling accolades (Schwartz 1).

Yankovic has been nominated for several Grammy awards and has won three of them; he won them for "Eat It" (Best Comedy Recording 1984), "Fat" (Best Concept Video 1988), and Poodle Hat (Best Comedy Album 2003). He was also nominated for Grammys for Best Comedy Recording of 1985 for Dare to be Stupid, Best Comedy Recording of 1987 for Polka Party!, Best Comedy Recording of 1988 for Even Worse, Best Children's Recording of 1988 for Peter and the Wolf, Best Comedy Recording of 1992 for Off the Deep End, and Best Music Video of 1994 for "Jurassic Park." Sadly, the Comedy category at the Grammys was changed, for reasons we may never know, to Spoken Word Comedy from 1993 to 2003. That is the reason Al had not received any nominations in the category during that time. Still, his nominations and wins are a heavy honor and definitely not the signs of any "one-hit-wonder" I know (Schwartz 2).

Al believes in clean humor and uses no profanity in his lyrics. His music is suitable for audiences of all ages, and his fans do span all age groups. Al also believes in clean living: He has never done drugs, he does not smoke, he is a strict vegetarian, and he rarely drinks alcohol. He even turned down a 5 million dollar offer to do a Coors Light endorsement. Not many rock stars can be considered role models these days, but Yankovic is a true exception (Epstein 95).

Contrary to popular belief, Yankovic is definitely not strictly a parody artist. Fifty percent of his musical catalogue is made up of original material. Hard core "Weird Al" fans, if asked, will say much of the time that they actually prefer Al's original songs to the parodies. Also, Yankovic always obtains permission from the artist he wants to parody before doing the song. It is very important to him that the original artist is pleased with the parody. His parodies are not meant to be an insult, but as a twisted tribute to the original artists. There has only been one occasion that an artist has not met Al's parody of their song with praise: Coolio was angered by Al's "Amish Paradise" a parody of "Gangsta's Paradise." Al was very shocked and concerned that Coolio was not pleased with the parody. Al's record company had given him the impression that Coolio had given Al his blessing to do the parody, and based on that information, Al recorded and released the song. It was one big miscommunication. Immediately upon seeing Coolio's negative reaction, Al wrote him a sincere letter of apology explaining the situation and never heard back from him (Epstein 95).

"Weird Al" Yankovic is a comedy artist who has entertained his audiences for over two decades as the undisputed "King of Mock and Roll." It is way past time for his character, talents, and abilities to be recognized and appreciated by all. Please, give the man his dues.

Works Cited

Epstein, Dan."Weird Al Yankovic: The Icon Profile." Icon Dec.1997: 95
Schwartz, Jon. "Weird Al Yankovic: Awards." 11 July 2000. 11 Nov. 2000