Skip to content


I guess I just like liking things

Weird Al Week


I intended for today’s article to be a discussion of UHF, a breakdown of its strengths, its best lines, its staying power, and its willingness to speak to that within each of us which strives to carry on in the face of difficulty and terror. It was going to be epic in scope, heartfelt, and (probably) way too long.

But that was before I got a high five from Weird Al.

As predicted, last night my wife and I went to see UHF in one of the local theaters. All I knew going in was that Al was going to be there, but I didn’t know if that meant he was going to stop in and say hi, or give us a live commentary while the movie played, or what.  Turns out the plan was for him to do a Q & A after the movie, and, really, that’s what I should have been expecting, but I don’t know too much about things.

The movie was scheduled for 7p, and we got there around 6:10. I knew we’d want to get there early because the seating was on a first-come basis, but I hadn’t anticipated a 6:30p seating time. When we got there the line was already circled around the lobby once.

This might sound strange to you, but I had been thinking about where to sit for most of the day.  I figured if we got there early we’d have good choices, but do you sit where you can see well, or sit where you’re closer to the stage (and therefore closer to Al), or what? I made the gametime decision to sit on the aisle 11 rows back, a mixture of closeness and viewful.

While we were waiting for things to get going, I noticed that one of the ladies getting things set up was someone I knew from a few years back through improv. I hadn’t seen her in a few years, but we’re friends on Facebook so we’re sorta still aware of each other’s lives. I had forgotten she worked with Purdue University, helping touring acts get what they need and arranging things and whatnot. It made perfect sense when I saw her, but I had totally forgotten that’s what she did. Number one reason that is inexcusable: she is solely responsible for getting me John de Lancie‘s autograph a few years ago when he was in town for a dramatic presentation. When she walked back up the aisle, I flagged her down to say hi. We caught up a little and I asked her, “So, is there any chance you could give something to Al for me?”

At this point I should tell you what I brought to the screening. Since I didn’t know what exactly would happen, I brought my DVD of UHF and a Sharpie in case he’d be signing autographs. I also brought a thank you note.  See, I figured if he did do any signings, he wouldn’t have much time to chat, and I also figured I’d freeze up and wouldn’t be able to say anything. Please remember: Weird Al is in my Top Five of Celebrities I’d Want to Meet, so this is a Big Deal for me. So I figured the best thing to do would be to write a thank you note, not too long, not too ridiculous, just a way to say thanks for all the laughter and enjoyment he’s given me for 27 years now (sharp-eyed fans will take note of that “27”). So I had it with me just in case. She said she’d be more than happy to pass it along. I might never know if he got it or read it, but there it is.

So then the movie starts, and it’s great. I mean, the movie is great when you watch it on your own, but watching it with a bunch of people who love it like you do is a different experience entirely. We quoted some of the favorite lines together, we laughed, we exulted. It was a blast. Even my wife, an admitted not-much-of-a-fan, who had never seen the movie before, enjoyed it.

But the best part was next.

The interviewer was a fellow from The Film Yap, and he gave an introduction and then said, “And here he is!” I stood up and turned around (noticing that very few others did so, which I thought was strange), and here was Weird Al bounding towards the stage down the very aisle I was on. Instinct kicked in and put my right hand up, and, man, you know Al is the sort of fellow who won’t leave you hanging. BAM, fived! Like, a good solid five, too. My hand was sort of stinging a little. I wish I had a picture of the next moment, because I doubt my eyes have ever been wider. I turned back to my wife and loudly proclaimed, “I’m never washing this hand again!” because that is the sort of thing you say when you get high-fived by Weird Al.

The interviewer asked Al a bunch of questions, and then started taking questions from the audience. I’d been thinking about this a long time, too. I mean, what do you ask Weird Al?  I simultaneously thought of a million questions and no questions at the same time. Sure, there’s tons of stuff you want to know, but, really, what do you ask in that moment?

I kept not getting picked, and had pretty much resigned myself to “it’s not going to happen” when the interviewer pointed in my direction and said, “There, well, there’s two guys, so we’ll take one and then the other.” Gulp. First guy asked his question, and then it was my turn. Listen, you won’t think it’s great, but this is what I decided on:

“I have a two-part question. I know that you’re not really in charge of these things, but I wondered if you knew anything about a Blu-Ray release for UHF, and are there any plans to have a modern release for The Compleat Al?”

This was, of course, after I worked up the ability to talk.  I’m eleven rows away and Al is looking right at me, after all. The thing about the first question is that this is something everyone wants to know. The thing about the second question is that, yes, I wanted to know, but also this is my secret message to Al that I have been a fan for A Long Time. The Compleat Al is a little-known mockumentary that I had seen several times many years ago but then no longer had access to (…until the Internet of course).

His responses were, yes, he didn’t have much to do with a Blu-Ray release of UHF, but that they had looked into it. The response from the studio was “Eh, no one’s buying Blu-Rays anymore” and “It costs, like, $10,000 to produce those things.” Al’s manager said, “Well, how about we give you the $10,000 and we see how they sell? You give us back the first $10,000 it makes and we’ll be square.” “Eh,” they replied, “That paperwork is too complicated, we’d never be able to do it.” So he suggested if we wanted it, that we needed to write the studio a bunch of letters.  Coming soon on zwolanerd: an organized letter-writing campaign to get UHF released on Blu-Ray.

His answer to the second question also had a “there’s not much I can do about it,” but he said “wow, that’s going back a long time” with (I feel) a certain glimmer of respect that someone would remember it (but I may be projecting, I admit), and then “but if they every decided to do something with it, I’d be happy to support it.”

There were only a couple more questions after mine, and then Al had to leave. As he ran back up the aisle, most people put their hands out for a high five this time. They learned it from watching me, okay?  They learned it from watching me. Sure enough, this time Al high-fived my left hand.

So now both of my hands are in a museum. I typed this all with my nose, but it was totally worth it.


Tags: ,

Written by: