“WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC POSTER LAS VEGAS 2019
Like many of my generation, “Weird Al” was my first entry point into alternative comedy. This was back when left-of-center comedy wasn’t really in the mainstream all that much. You might get an Airplane or Naked Gun flick (or if you were fortunate enough to be a kid the summer of ’84 there was Top Secret) here or there but by and large the comedy landscape of the 1980s was a whole lot of sitcom premise and guys in blazers with pushed-up sleeves doing bad Jack Nicholson impressions. Al was like a portal to a whole other comic sensibility and if you were a precocious kid used to getting called “weird” by family, friends, and classmates just for trying to exist any other way than the beige norm, his records were like important system updates. This guy got you. You got him. And he made it all a bit more tolerable, even if just by being able to laugh at it all. It’s a testament to his special wavelength that he’s still putting out great music and playing to packed houses worldwide 40 years later. And he did it clean too. He never cashed in on easy “dirty” laughs or mean-spirited down-punching comedy. In fact, he’s even updated his act over the years in response to changing cultural arcs. Al is legend. So naturally, ten-year-old me flipped at the chance to make a piece for his current Strings Attached tour, a nationwide jaunt with full symphony.
Designers were asked to pick a city and a concept/song to theme the artwork around. I saw Vegas and “Living with a Hernia” and gears started kicking into motion. “Living With a Hernia” (if you weren’t aware) is Al’s spoof of the 1985 James Brown hit “Living in America” (from the fourth Rocky movie) reworked to be about…duh…hernias. He even made a video for it where he contorted himself into many of the Godfather of Soul’s most famous stage poses, which happened to perfectly approximate the hunched over pain of a hernia. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8Ow1nlafOg So the style would be golden age of Vegas retro, reflecting back on the days of Sinatra and Co. playing nightly at the Sands and Sahara, with a bit of soul revue showmanship thrown in to match James Brown’s iconic performances. In fact the pose Al appears in here is a direct copy of James’ pose on the Star Time cover. I would of course use this pose to play off the theme: hernia belt, hot water bottle, glittering stage robe as bathrobe and bunny slippers just to complete the effect. I even kitted Al out in the curly James Brown wig from the video.
Of course he is descending a glitzy, towering Vegas-ey stage fashioned after his own name with a riff on the iconic Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign thrown in to give you an immediate sense of place. The real fun comes with the neon signs worked into the night sky: Al as the famous neon sign Vegas Vic (though reworked a bit to suggest abdominal pain), and many signs set in the classic typefaces of the Vegas strip referencing all the different kinds of hernias called out at the end of the song. Plus a bit of skyline to further set the scene. The color palette likewise is meant to recall a vegas gaming table in its rich greens and hot red and yellows. These were produced for VIP ticketholders at the Vegas show, where they were presented as handsomely printed offsets. The only place to get these extremely-limited screenprints is here and at the Nakatomi Inc site. Once again I am extremely grateful to the fine people at Nakatomi for giving me the chance to work with so many other brilliant artists on such a great tour poster series. It really is a treat to get to make art for “Weird Al” Also behold the majesty of the rainbow foil variant!