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NewCityNet Al Be There

Weird Al's pals

By Carl Kozlowski

JULY 6, 1998: 

A Yankovic surprise

The Weird Al Yankovic extravaganza known as AlCon has sold all 230 of its tickets at $30 a pop, crows organizer Amanda Cohen. No surprise, really, when the entertainment includes an "Al-You-Can-Eat Buffet" of food items parodied by the master himself.

"What's not to like about Al?" says Vickie Brown, who drove to the Evanston Holiday Inn all the way from Woodstock, Ontario. "He's very big in Canada. Really. He sells out 20,000-seat stadiums there." He's got a few fans in the States as well - enough to make his 1996 CD, "Bad Hair Day," a two-million seller. While waiting for Yankovic's next release, Cohen decided to reach out to fellow fans, many of whom seem to frequent Internet chat rooms.

Now they've gathered to watch drummer John "Bermuda" Schwartz screen obscure Weird Al videos and share road stories. Just when the convention seems to have reached its zenith, Yankovic himself leaps onstage, setting off a near-riot. A surprised Cohen falls backwards from the lectern as Weird Al makes the scene.

Then the mischievous Yankovic decides to steal his own show, staying for dinner, a showing of his cult film "UHF" and a three-hour dance featuring all his hits. When the festivities wrap at 1am, he takes his new pals bowling till dawn. "Al's the last one of his kind, the final big-time musical parodist left," Cohen says. "When you've got a niche like his, it's easy to stay big in the business. And obviously, he cares about his fans." Obviously.

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