Weird Al Yankovic received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame today. Yankovic, guests and fans gathered at 6914 Hollywood Blvd. for the unveiling and Monsters and Critics was there.
Dr. Demento, who played Yankovic’s first demo on his radio show when the singer was 16, spoke about his protege.
“I knew him before he was weird,” Demento said. “Well, before he was Weird Al anyway. People began calling him Weird Al because he was a little different. He took that as a badge of honor.”
Demento shared the story of how Yankovic came to his studio in a suit and tie for an on air segment.
“I soon found out that when the mic was off, he was very soft spoken, a little shy but obviously very intelligent,” Demento said. “That was even before I knew he was the valedictorian of his class.”
Fans may be interested in Demento’s insights into Yankovic’s work ethic.
“You don’t often think of funny people as being perfectionists but Al is one of the great perfectionists and a workaholic as well,” Demento said. “He knows what he wants and he knows how to get it. He watches and then he figures out how to do it himself.”
Demento also praised Yankovic’s loyalty, staying with the same manager, Jay Levey, and band for 35 years. Then came Thomas Lennon, who became friends with Yankovic when they met at a Staples in 2005 at 11AM.
“Another man was pondering the printer toner wall with me, a man with a magnetic energy and hair like something out of the movie The Wiz,” Lennon said. “I recognized him, I instantly freaked out and I tried to act cool.”
It turned out Yankovic was a big Reno 911! fan.
“I said, ‘Excuse me, are you Weird Al Yankovic?’” Lennon shared. “He replied, ‘Yes, are you Lt. Dangle?’ I said, ‘I am. Should we just agree to be friends for life?’ And Al said, ‘Okay.’”
They shook on it but truly became friends IRL, hence Lennon speaking at Yankovic’s ceremony.
“The way that Al does something is the way that Al does everything,” Lennon said. “Al does everything the best way that it can be done. There are no half efforts with Al. Somehow there are not even typos in e-mails he sends from his phone.
“Al is the type of father that I aspire to be. Al and Suzanne’s daughter Nina is one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. They say don’t ever meet your heroes but I hope you do if your heroes are like mine, Weird Al Yankovic.”
Finally, Yankovic himself took the stage, a bit flummoxed when Hollywood Chamber of Commerce President Loren Gubler decladed it Weird Al Yankovic Day in Hollywood.
“Weird Al Yankovic Day,” Yankovic mused. “Things are going to start changing around here right now, people!”
Yankovic’s introductions proved he is as clever at satirizing acceptance speeches as he is at spoofing Michael Jackson and Madonna songs.
“Thank you so much for coming out to this free event,” Yankovic said. “Honestly, I had no idea the unemployment rate was so high here in Hollywood.
“Never in my wildest dreams would I ever have imagined that one day I would be immortalized here on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, sharing the same prestigious honor as Ryan Seacrest and Wally Cox and Absolut Vodka.
“I’m not sure if I should admit this, I actually could have gotten this 10 or 20 years ago but I told the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce that I specifically wanted the 2,643rd star. It took a while for that number to come up on the rotation, so my bad. Sorry about the wait, everybody.”
“I want to especially apologize to Robert De Niro. He’s getting a star on the Walk of Fame next year. I know a lot of you know this already but De Niro’s been very vocal about the fact that he just thought it would be criminally unfair for him to get a star before me. Sorry, Bobby and thanks for your patience.”
Weird Al fans Dave Elvis Rossi and Vicki DeVries spearheaded the campaign to petition the city and pay for Yankovic’s star. Their campaign began in 2005.
“I want to sincerely thank all the generous fans who took out second mortgages on their homes and subsisted on nothing but ramen noodles for years and years just so I could be standing before you today,” Yankovic said. “Thank you for your selfless sacrifice.
“I mean, I guess you could’ve donated that money to the Red Cross or the American Cancer Society or something, but I think you made the right choice. I think this was an excellent use of your disposable income.”
After all that effort, Yankovic would have been satisfied just to know that many people cared.
“Having my name in a star on a star on a sidewalk, that’s cool, that’s really nice,” he said. “Who wouldn’t want that? Just knowing that I have the love and support of the fans, people that would go through all this time and effort and money to do something completely crazy like this, that means everything in the world to me.”
However, now that the day had arrived, the excitement hit Yankovic.
“Full disclosure, now that we’re actually here and we’re doing this, this is pretty awesome,” he said. “I’m really, really happy about this.
But just as quickly, it was back to comedy.
“It’s just an honor knowing that my name is going to be walked on, spit on, and let’s face it, urinated on for generations to come,” he said. “It’s a legacy, my friends.”
Then Yankovic got political.
“Please, please don’t pickaxe my star,” he said. “Okay, guys? I know it’s all the rage these days, but that’s not cool. Just please don’t do that. Unless at some point in the future I do something unfathomably monstrous and evil, in which case sure, fine, okay, go ahead.
“Anything short of that, please limit yourself to spitting and urinating. Have some class, people.”
While he had the platform, Yankovic made another statement.
“I wasn’t sure if I could bring this up,” he began. “I’ve got something I want to say right now. Some people would argue that this isn’t the time or the place, that it’s not appropriate for a celebration like this. I understand that, I really do but there are a lot of people here today. The media’s covering this. I’ve got a lot of attention, serious attention focused on me right now, worldwide attention. I kind of feel like I don’t want to waste this opportunity as a public figure to use my voice to say something that I think is really important. I apologize in advance if this is not what some of you want to hear, but I feel like I have to make a statement.”
With that dramatic buildup, you can just guess the sort of bombshell Yankovic was about to drop.
“I’m selling a used Credenza on Craigslist,” he said. “It’s espresso brown, mid century modern. The left rear corner’s got a little bit of damage, like a little chippy. You can even use a Sharpee or felt pen or magic marker, just cover it in. You never know. One of the doors sticks a little bit but other than that it’s in decent shape. I’m asking $200 or best offer, I’m flexible. But cash only. No personal checks. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.”
Closing with thank yous, Yankovic once again thanked the fans, then moved on to the city.
“I’d like to thank the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, who after 13 years of getting badgered and harassed and pestered by those very same fans, finally said those beautiful magic words, ‘Yeah, okay, we’ll take your money.’”
Yankovic thanked his band mates, Dr. Demento (whom he calls Barret Eugene Hansen), Lennon and Levey. Finally, Yankovic welled up thanking his wife, Suzanne, and daughter, Nina, but didn’t let that stop him from being funny.
“Suzanne, thanks for putting up with me when I’m in my creative mode, when I’m lost in my own world staggering around the house like a zombie in a Simpsons bathrobe, eyes glazed over and randomly bumping into things,” Yankovic said. “I’m sure that’s not what you signed up for.
“Nina, thank you so much for putting up with years and years and years of horrible dad jokes. I can’t even begin to imagine how horrible and torturous that was for you and I’m truly, deeply sorry. I love you both so much.”
Monsters and Critics got to speak with Yankovic and we’ll bring you that interview tomorrow.