As I sit here watching “Ready to Rumble,” the David Arquette-starred wrestling vehicle, I’ve come to realize that I have no idea what true comedic genius might entail. Who am I to digest and appreciate genius? I’ve viewed all four “Scary Movie” films, every last Pauly Shore movie (Bio-Dome at least 20 times), and I stay up till three in the morning just to watch “Head of the Class.” (It’s that Arvid. The way he played off Blunden’s antics…it’s a crime he never won an Emmy). Only a true student of the art can appreciate brilliance, and while I may have a two-year certificate in Advanced Metaphors for Genitalia from DeVry, that hardly qualifies me in the field.
So you can understand why my head hurt so bad after seeing “Borat” a few days ago. “Is Sacha Baron Cohen a genius, or was I only laughing because male nudity is comedic gold? And why can I feel my heartbeat in my forehead?” The questions were flowing a-plenty, kind of like the horn a-plenty, but with less squash. My first instinct was to hail “Borat” as the next “This is Spinal Tap,” the perfect mock-u-mentary for my generation. But the bastard that lives in my gut kept reminding me that the guys from Jackass use a similar method, the “let’s take a camera and freak out random strangers” tactic. Would the people down at The Friar’s Club pay tribute to Steve-o with a Roast in twenty years? Probably not. But would Don Rickles, at age 110, rip Cohen a new one? The odds are a little better, but not so much that Rickles would be around to film Dirty Work 2. One thing I know for certain is “Borat” should, at the very least, be a moderate success. I’m not talking like “Passion of the Christ” bank, just not a financial and professional bust. Why am I certain? Because Weird Al Yankovic has the 10th best selling album in the country. There will be a divide between “Borat” fans on whether or not it is brilliant or sophomoric, but all that matters is both are appreciated by Americans, Americans like me. The country still appreciates ridiculous humor, apparently, so Cohen should sleep easy when those first receipt totals come in.
But what truly shocks me in all of this is Weird Al’s consistent popularity. You see, I am a Weird Al fan. Always have been, since the mid-80’s. If you want a good time, come on over to my apartment and we’ll play my “Weird Al Yankovic in 3-D” cassette till our ears bleed; the same cassette my grandmother bought me in 1984. And for a follow-up, we can put “UHF” on, with subtitles until our hearing recovers, and revel in the brilliance that is the Twinkie Weiner Sandwich. But how did Al’s chart domination over the past decade go under my radar? To be honest, I thought he faded into obscurity after “Amish Paradise” in 1996. And that record, I assumed, was hardly a commercial success. Every now and again, you’d hear something new from him, like the awful P Diddy parody, “All About the Pentiums,” but nothing smelled like a hit, a la “Eat It.” In my head, Weird Al, ironically enough, had turned into a parody of himself. My ignorance began because I had sadly become a fairweather fan. I was no longer supporting Weird Al by purchasing his albums (“Alapalooza” was the last, way back in 1993). But his popularity was bigger than me. Just because I no longer hopped on his bandwagon, that doesn’t mean the rest of the world followed suit. So when I noticed that “Straight Outta Lynnwood” was selling like mad, I felt the need to get the cold, hard facts on his discography.
The numbers are staggering: Of his last three albums, two went platinum (Running With Scissors, Bad Hair Day), and while the other (Poodle Hat) only went gold, it took home a Grammy for Best Comedy Album. That album’s lesser sales can be contributed to Eminem’s refusal to allow a video to be made for the main single, “Couch Potato.” And as we all know, with the crazy success of “White n’ Nerdy,” Weird Al lives and dies by the music video. But still, a gold album is nothing to sneeze at. The numbers are there; Weird Al Yankovic has maintained his status as a platinum record selling megastar for 22 years. And you know what, I’m leaning toward copping this new album. The line “Keep your 40, I’ll just have an Earl Grey tea” gets me every time. And I’m not ashamed. Now that my eyes are open, I won’t dispose of Weird Al, like I did to my other childhood obsession, Huey Lewis. I never forgave him when he showed his dong in “Short Cuts.” It’s hip to be square, not hip to be a porn actor. Stay in school.