Weird Al Yankovic, the gold standard of American comedic musical parody, has finally, for the first time in his now almost 40-year career (!), hit Number 1 on the Billboard chart. Mandatory Fun, Yankovic’s 14th album which was released on July 15, 2014 and went to number one last week, now has the distinction of being the first comedy record to hit that plateau since Allan Sherman’s My Son, the Nut, which included “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah,” the classic ode by way of waxing funnily about life at a kid’s Summer Camp. (That song, which was released as single, went to number one back in 1963 — you can have a listen to the track below.)
Mandatory Fun sports clever parodies of some of today’s biggest hits, like Pharrell’s “Happy” (“Tacky”) and Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” (“Word Crimes”) — you can watch these new Weird Al videos here below.
In a million years, one would never readily suspect that one of the biggest success stories in the entertainment world for the last thirty years would be the tale of Weird Al Yankovic, but it’s true. Yankovic has that rare gift of being able to seemingly get MORE successful as he chugs along, greatly helped by a savvy and a firm direction of his parodist and musical guise, now immensely helped by taking full advantage of cyberspace and all of its social accoutrements. It’s one of the core reasons why he finally hit number one, after that apex tantalizingly had been dangling just out of his reach for so many years and even decades despite his knack and a standard for releasing great records. And to be able to reach a summit like a number one spot, and more amazingly, to be the only one to do it since over 50 years, especially when one considers the stellar heavyweight comedy record releases by Hall of Fame stalwarts of the genre like Bill Cosby, George Carlin, Cheech and Chong, Robert Klein, Eddie Murphy, Frank Zappa, and scores of others, the feat becomes even more mindboggling, yet completely understandable.
And it’s easy to understand the broad and what seems to be in perpetuity appeal of Yankovic. One, he’s for everyone, he doesn’t pander, he doesn’t look down on his audience, or elevate them up, he doesn’t manifest a secret kind of club that many of his contemporaries and even past legends have done in their comedy manifestations, be it by way of a raunchiness, a high intelligence, a low brow stupidity, or a high brow one. Yankovic, is able to take all those styles and plenty more, and is able to puree them into a seamless flow of a comedy parody that isn’t so much sanitized, as universal. You won’t catch him telling a dick joke, and if you do, he’ll do it in a manner as juvenilia embarrassment that most of the listeners would feel. He doesn’t do anything for anything’s sake, he does it to make you laugh. It’s kind of the old school variety, and Yankovic has the gift from the comedy gods to be able to keep parlaying it in contemporary veins and even in some cases right on top of its fringe. In an internet world and VIY world (Video It Yourself), where anybody can become a sort of faux star, there are thousands of wannabe parodists on the web, some who are inches away from being as good as Yankovic. But Yankovic still remains the Led Zeppelin of his genre when his work is put up against anybody else’s Whitesnake. The genius of Yankovic’s consistently high standard output is so vested in what it is, that there isn’t even one iota of room for debate on the subject. He has honed, crafted, refined, and etched in limestone what he is and what we perceive him to be.
It’s that simple. And it’s the reason why the man has ascended to number one, and seems to only be reaching newer heights as he goes along. To speak in such reverent tones about a comedy/parodist/musician, and especially one such as Weird Al Yankovic, and rightly and deservedly so, means that we actually WERE listening to what he had to say all these years, laughing all the while.
Video: “Weird Al” Yankovic – Word Crimes
Video: “Weird Al” Yankovic Performs “Tacky” On Conan
Allan Sherman “Hello Muddah Hello Faddah” (1963)