We interrupt your regularly scheduled post …

This isn’t the post I was going to make today.

I have a whole post written up about why the best humor is like a burrito, complete with a new design release, and I’m pushing it back a week because I’m going to write about the King instead.

No, not Elvis … I mean the King of Filk – Weird Al Yankovic.

I know, you’re all wondering why him.

Consider that he’s built a highly successful, decades-long singing career on song parodies.  Ok, that and accordion shenanigans, but it’s the song parodies that make him one of the best-selling musical artists that almost never gets mainstream radio play.

You say song parodies, I say filk.

You’re probably also wondering why now.  It’s because I just got to see him in concert again.  [EEEEE!]

Yes, I’m a bit of a fangirl.  I mean, I was there for the Albuquerque show after Running With Scissors.  That’s the time my (now ex-)husband told him we were going to name our children Nathaniel and Superfly.

I think he was kind of disturbed by that. [1]

“Hey, you’ve got weasels on your face.”

There’s three folks who are in my mental Musical Hall of Awesome: Sting, Madonna, and Weird Al.  All three of these folks have spent decades writing and singing new works while evolving musically.  Say what you like about Madonna, but she’s managed to reinvent herself a dozen times or more, almost always successfully.

Weird Al can do a dozen musical styles, is a gifted lyricist with a wicked sense of humor, and can write multi-part complex harmony in addition to polkas.  For the last item, I submit “Hardware Store”.  For the middle item, I submit “Wanna B Ur Luvr”[2], “It’s All About the Pentiums”, and, well, really, his entire discography.  He largely points his parodies at inconsequential targets (food, TV,  eBay, etc.), gets permission from the folks he parodies (who almost always say yes), and has incredibly sharp wordplay.

Through Weird Al, I’ve listened to musical styles that I would never have listened to (ok, mostly rap), and there’s a not-insignificant number of popular songs that I heard the Weird Al version of well before I ever heard the original.  (“Oh, so that’s where that came from!”)

He also does incredible concerts, complete with costume changes and playing the effing accordion like a rock star.

“What kind of chip you got in there – a Dorito?

And yet, at the same time as I was bouncing in my seat and signing along with the concert, I periodically found myself feeling a bit uncomfortable.

The downside of the costume changes is needing to fill up that time with something entertaining.  Mostly, this is episodes of AlTV – short clips of pop culture references to Weird Al or faked “interviews” of other musicians.  The “interviews” are spliced out of real interviews that those folks did with other people and him making up questions to … well, to make them look really stupid.

You can see how this might make me feel uncomfortable.

I’m pretty sure those folks aren’t being asked to approve these, and I don’t think they would – they’re being taken out of context and flat out mocked. It’s not even like they’re being made to look silly – in some cases, it was flat out making them look stupid.

Lots of folks will just say “you gotta learn to laugh at yourself”, but I think there’s a line between “laughing at yourself” and “laugh while others mock the heck out of you”, and on the far side of that line?  Not so funny.

More on that next week.

[1] Just sayin’, in case he ever sees this[3]: I didn’t have any children with that guy and we’re divorced now so the world is safe.
[2] “Your love is like diarrea, I just can’t keep it in.” Who else is gonna sing that with a straight face?
[3] And in that unlikely case, I don’t suppose you might reconsider the “interviews”, eh?

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5 Responses to We interrupt your regularly scheduled post …

  1. Teaspoon says:

    You make a good point on the distinction between funny and hurtful. I’m looking forward to next week’s post.

    • Victoria says:

      Thanks! I’ve been thinking about this distinction a lot lately … and it’s one I think more people need to think about.

      • Karen says:

        Yeah, anything supposedly funny that, when the recipient objects, is explained by “I was just teasing/kidding/making a joke” is not really about being funny, rather about hurting/beating-up/winning.

  2. Karen says:

    Capt Redleg and (pregnant) I did have “Nathaniel” picked as a boy’s name once, back before the ubiquitousness of ultrasound.

    • Victoria says:

      It’s not so much a problem with “Nathaniel”, per se. It’s more that in “Albuquerque”, he and the woman who says “Hey, you’ve got weasels on your face” have two children named Nathaniel and Superfly.

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