Weird Al: Seriously

Lily E Hirsch (Author)


From his love of accordions and Hawaiian print shirts to his popular puns and trademark dance moves, "Weird Al" Yankovic has made a career out of making us laugh. Funny music is often dismissed as light and irrelevant, but Yankovic's fourteen successful studio albums prove there is more going on than comedic music's reputation suggests. In this book, for the first time, the parodies, original compositions, and polka medleys of the Weird Al universe finally receive their due respect. Lily Hirsch weaves together original interviews with the prince of parody himself, creating a fresh take on comedy and music's complicated romance. She reveals that Yankovic's jests have always had a deeper meaning, addressing such topics as bullying, celebrity, and racial and gender stereotypes. Weird Al is undeterred by those who say funny music is nothing but a low-brow pastime. And thank goodness. With his good-guy grace still intact, Yankovic remains unapologetically and unmistakably himself. Reveling in the mischief and wisdom of Yankovic's forty-year career, this book is an Al-expense-paid tour of a true comedic and musical genius.

Product Details

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Publish Date
March 15, 2020
6.31 X 0.89 X 9.22 inches | 1.13 pounds
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About the Author

Lily E. Hirsch has written four books on topics ranging from Jewish music's history to music in criminal law. One, in 2014, won the American Musicological Society's Ruth A. Solie Award. When not teaching or writing as visiting scholar at California State University, Bakersfield, Hirsch blogs at She lives in Bakersfield, California.


Weird Al is as smart as he is zany, and his parodies are clearly born of a deep love of music, which is the secret ingredient of successful satire. In her fine new book, Lily Hirsch offers an engaging exploration of Weird Al's place in the cultural landscape.--Peter Schickele, a.k.a. P.D.Q. Bach
Weird Al: Seriously is a bracingly smart, incisive book about a wonderfully, transcendently silly icon who also happens to be a super-genius. It's an eminently worthy addition to the growing body of literature on Al that gives Al his due as an artist and national treasure. As someone who has spent a LOT of time over-thinking every element of Al's career I am in genuine awe at just how much thought and care Hirsch has put into her work.--Nathan Rabin, film and music critic, and author, Weird Al: The Book
[Hirsch] combines a close reading of Yankovic's work with thorough research, explaining that his success is rooted in both his clever turn of phrase and his willingness to take on complex themes. The author searches for deeper meanings, asking probing questions: What is Yankovic saying about race, religion, and gender? What is really going on in "Angry White Boy Polka"? While this scholarly treatment may sound too serious for such entertaining fare, Hirsch keeps the tone energetic . . . and livens the text with funny anecdotes and interviews with Yankovic and his band members. VERDICT This engaging read skillfully documents the hard work that goes into being silly; readers will emerge with a newfound respect for Yankovic.--Library Journal
So happy to see Weird Al getting the recognition he deserves. He's one of my favorite spirits, entities, performers, and I hear he's an incredible family man. Also that hair, gotta love that hair.--Reggie Watts
Too easy is Weird Al dismissed as unimportant, but artists who take art and twist it into something fresh and new deserve their own accolades! In Weird Al: Seriously we can truly appreciate the message behind the mask and the man behind the clown.--Fran Drescher, actress, comedian
Music writer Hirsch celebrates the career of music comedian Alfred "Weird Al" Yankovic in this thoroughly researched debut biography. Best known for his parodies, Hirsch argues that Yankovic is much more than a comedy act, and that his songs allow listeners to "be whoever you are" . . .this is the perfect volume for all who proudly rock out to Weird Al.--Publishers Weekly
There's something dangerous about serious analysis of comedy, but musicologist Hirsch's look into the discography of pop parodist 'Weird Al' Yankovic keeps things fun. After a brief look at his influences (including Dr. Demento, who wrote the introduction), she mines literary and social criticisms and, backed up by an exhaustive survey of Yankovic in the media, dissects his work to prove that he is more than just a novelty act. . . . Hirsch is clearly a fan, and her geeking out over Yankovic's terrible (wonderful) puns and keen (and keenly juvenile) sense of the absurd will endear the book to readers who are fellow Al-colohics.--Booklist