I’m a 35-year-old man. I have a family, a good career, a nice house in the suburbs. Regardless of how I may feel inside sometimes, I haven’t really been the fat, greasy, nerdy geek I was as a teenager for a long, long time. So I feel like I shouldn’t really still like anything by Weird Al Yankovic, should I? I mean, c’mon… shouldn’t I have outgrown him by now?
You certainly can’t say that Weird Al doesn’t know who his target audience is and just how to play to them — while I have absolutely no data to back this theory up, I’d imagine that geeks in their thirties who’ve grown up with Al make up an even bigger part of his audience than the geeks in their teens who would seem to be the most natural fit for Al’s shtick. Weird Al happened to luck into a unique situation and has ridden it to a career far longer and more successful than I think anyone (including Al himself) ever could have imagined: a large segment of the nerdy crowd who latched on to him originally grew up to use the skills and interests which got them mocked as kids to become reasonably affluent adults. And many of those adults are still Weird Al fans, so he has a dedicated, well-off following who’ve been with him (even if, like me, it’s just occasionally and somewhat passively) for twenty years.
There’s something about the video I wanted to point out, because if I’m gonna be a big geek about it I might as well go all the way: I paused the clip to check out Al’s “top eight friends” on his MySpace page. Completely unsurprisingly, his top friends include Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Pee-Wee Herman, Screech from Saved By The Bell, Frodo Baggins, Napoleon Dynamite and one I can’t read. But then there’s also “Tom” — the creator of MySpace, the guy who every single user gets by default when they create their account… and even moreso than the nerd shoutouts listed above, a very, very nice visual way of indicating that this guy has no real friends. It’s that kind of subtle attention to detail (and this particular detail will only be visible on your screen for less than two seconds, if that) that I appreciate, and something Al’s always really done well — when someone puts the effort into crafting details you’re either going to have to work hard to catch or possibly never catch at all, that’s usually a damn good sign that the crafter really and truly loves what they’re doing.