Debate: Is "Weird" Al Yankovic Really Weird?

By Jake and Glenn

"Weird" Al Yankovic is a popular parody artist from the United States of America.  He is often called "America's Greatest Treasure (Parody Category)."  This question has always loomed over Mr. Yankovic: Is "Weird" Al really Weird?  This debate will attempt to answer the question definitely and end the debate once and for all, but like all of our debates, we are likely to fall very short of this goal.  Still, there are jokes in it and you could do worse with the ten minutes it takes to read this such as suicide, writing your own parody song, or watching the first ten minutes of "Juwanna Mann."

Jake: “Weird” Al is not all that weird. His songs are parodies of popular songs and generally feature lyrics about food. Food is one of the least weird subjects for a song. The only less weird things are water and oxygen. We need food to survive. If you change “Beat It” to “Eat It” that is just dropping the ‘b,’ much like James Van Der Beek would like to do to the one living in apartment 23. If anybody deserves the moniker of “weird” it would be a truly bizarre artist like Merzbow or Spike Jones. These make truly bizarre, unapproachable and unlistenable music. “Weird” Al turns popular music into broad comedy that anybody can enjoy. Maybe a better name for “Weird” Al would be “Hilarious” Al.

Glenn: Thank you for referencing ABC’s new breakout situational comedy hit about someone who lives in apartment 23 - a sitcom so popular that I could see Weird Al writing a song called “Don’t Trust the Bee in Apartment 63” which involved a bee flying into someone’s meatus and stinging them to death from the inside. That’s the kind of shit Al writes about it and yes, it’s weird. Imagine the musical landscape when Weird Al first dropped “I love Rocky Road” in 1982. The two biggest singles (besides the inspirational track “I Love Rock and Roll”) were “Survivor” by Eye of the Tiger and “Down Under” by Men at Work. Compared to that drecht, releasing a parody song was indeed weird and completely groundbreaking. It was weirder than whatever Kraftwerk released that year!

Jake: “Weird” Al is not weird enough to write a song about a bee flying into somebody’s meatus and stinging them to death. It would more likely be something along the lines of “Don’t Crust the B(read) in Apartment 43” and would be about a person who prefers their sandwiches to be crustless. Is that weird? Hardly. Everybody has got to eat and many people prefer their sandwiches to be crustless. It is certainly relatable. What is weird is my work-in-progress song about how 50 Cent is like Paula Poundstone. It is at least weirder than “Weird” Al’s work in progress parody song about “Don’t Trust the B-- in Apartment 23.” Mozart parodied lesser works by composers in “A Musical Joke.” Is Mozart “weird?” No, unless being a genius is weird. The same applies to Al Yankovic. Sure, he is a genius and great at playing the accordion, but he is about as weird as Kevin Sorbo is ugly.

Glenn: Yes of course being a genius is weird! And of course Kevin Sorbo is jaw-droppingly handsome. Not even Oscar Wilde or Charles Dickens would deny that - they who said “I have nothing to declare but my genius” and “Eccentricities of genius” respectively. If I were to hear these quotes today, I would assume they were in reference to “Weird” Al, who many have called our generation’s Wilde. I will not weigh in on that debate; the video for “Born This Way” parody “Perform This Way” speaks for itself. If you think there is something “normal” about that video, I would hate to drill into your head while you are sleeping and let your nightmares escape. It is horrifying, challenging and so bizarre that it made me consider leaving my wife of 13 years, whom I love very much.

Jake: Being a genius and being weird are two separate things. Kevin Sorbo is about as normal as a man can get, but his performances on “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” has often been described by critics as the work of a genius. People who want to live in a free country but oppose gay marriage are weird. People under 45 who still buy CDs are weird. The movie “Tree of Life” is weird. Al Yankovic is hilarious, a genius and a vegan, but he is not weird. He is a visionary, a hero, a foodie and handsome, but he is not weird. The movie “People Under the Stairs” is weird. The works of RL Stine are weird, save for “Monster Blood 2.” Growing up, I was a huge fan of “Weird” Al and MAD Magazine. Both of these things are rife with parody--parodies that I did not get, because of never hearing or seeing the source material--but neither are weird. They are very hilarious and will certainly stand the test of time.

Glenn: I guess this debate comes down to how the reader interprets genius and to a lesser extent song parodies. Thanks to the ubiquity of self-started e-zines, blogs (not this one) and Pinterest, the masses can now create more content than the masses could ever consume. This has led to a plague of mediocrity inflicted upon us, the masses. Weird Al is certainly weird when you think about the lack of parodies during his heyday and especially the lack of good parodies today as he claws his way towards death’s door. The modern media landscape is littered with recaps, snarky criticisms and extremely tedious analysis but few parodies. That is where Al comes in. He creates content that is unsettling, content that holds a mirror up to society and makes us want to rip our eyeballs out. I choose to blind myself instead of watching this deeply disturbing, Aphex Twin-style video ever again:


  1. This is a good debate, if I'm allowed to toot my own horn. To quote Tugboat, "Toot toot."

  2. This is GREAT!!! I wasn't intrigued by the topic but it's probably one of my favorites. I laughed at both of your Apartment 23 parody song ideas!


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