Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

It was no good.

"Weird Al" Yankovic’s concert at the St James Theatre in Auckland had finished a good few minutes ago now, but there were still a heap of audience-members left inside the building when I came back downstairs, so it was time to check the stage door.

Outside, I discovered about a dozen people hanging around. They were a friendly lot, and I got chatting to a 40-something couple called Graham and Daphne. (I think) This was unexpected for two reasons.

Firstly because they were fans like myself, and for the first time in my life I was able to actually have an in-depth conversation with someone about Weird Al’s work. Many people are only aware of his famous parodies, but these two had all the albums I had, and knew all the trivia that I did too, plus more.

Secondly, they had been to see him perform in Sydney a couple of years ago, and were speaking to me about him in the same sort of special glowing terms that I would expect fans of someone like Neil Diamond to use.

I connected with the sparkle in these two’s eyes immediately – they had recognised the joy in Al’s zany humour, as had I, and they too knew how rare it was.

Over an hour passed, during which some of the other hangers-round unexpectedly turned out to be members of the band. I had quite a chat with guitarist Steve Jay, and took this picture of him signing Cameron’s UHF poster:

Gradually more and more stuff and people emerged – Al’s wife, kid (riding the Segway) and a huge box marked “FAT COSTUME.”

We figured he was probably post morteming the show somewhere inside with the others.

In the back of my mind was a gnawing suspicion – while we were all camping out here at the back of the theatre, was he quietly escaping through the front? (as they told us Jon Pertwee had back in Wimbledon in 1989)

It was now gone midnight, and I knew I had missed the last mainstream bus home. When this was over I would now either have to find a night bus, or if there wasn’t one of those, see if I could swing a comp bed back at my old youth hostel haunt a mere five minutes walk away.

Our numbers dwindled, presumably meaning that those of us who were now left were the ones who had come here specifically to see Weird Al, as opposed to just for someone famous.

Suddenly there was a look of recognition in one of the others’ eyes, and with no shame at all the small crowd surged as one hopefully forwards toward the stage door.

Apparently Al had actually come here looking for us.

Everyone automatically organised themselves into an orderly queue. Al politely met everyone, signed autographs, (some of them on clothing) and even appeared to be recording a special outgoing message for someone’s mobile phone. The couple I’d been talking to and I had already struck a deal to swap cameras and photograph each other with him, to ensure that everything went as smoothly as possible.

Their moment came, and with my usual “3 2 1” I photographed them all together on their digital. I made a mental note of Al’s expression, figuring that he would probably wear the same one for mine – it was just an ordinary friendly smile.

And then it was my turn.

Perhaps responding to my own, Al threw me a big smile and grinned “Hi!”

We went to shake hands enthusiastically and immediately missed each other and wound up catching each other’s thumbs instead, resulting in us both going “whoa!” and chuckling. I said “We got a linky-pinky thing going on,” which was a joke I’d got from Plug comic when I was six, and hadn’t expected to ever use.

I’d forgotten to bring my Straight Outta Lynwood CD for him to sign, but in fairness I wasn’t that interested in an autograph anyway. Still, it seemed like the thing to do, so I handed him my ticket and biro and asked him to make it out to me, spelling my surname. Graham was an absolute trooper and started taking pictures of us even at this early stage. Anyway I wanted a posed one too, and Al was happy to oblige.

Not sure if he would pull the same smile as earlier or go for the “weird” look that I’ve seen him pull in other fan photos on the net, I opted to just go for my usual smile, figuring that it would go well with either expression from him. In the event the crowd was laughing at him, so I figured he was pulling some sort of expression, but wasn’t sure what. All I could see was his mass of wavy hair out of the corner of my eye.

As it happened, the camera caught us just as Al looked away, so he suggested we take it again, which we did.

I thanked him, shook his hand again, said “Thanks for making me laugh...have a great tour” and we said goodbye.

Then, as the next person stepped up to meet him, it was time for me to say goodbye to my new friends who’d been taking the pictures for me. “I’ll see you two in two years time at the next one of these!”

I put the camera in my bag, and looked back at the last few members of our brief, friendly group. Al was still signing his last autographs, and some of the earlier enthusiasts seemed happy to hang around and watch. I wasn’t – I’d got what I’d come for, and now I had to head back to whatever it is I do.

I bought some food, and the night bus never showed-up, so I had to wait over an hour for the next one, but it didn’t matter.

When I finally crashed into bed at about 3am, I was utterly exhausted.

And very happy.

I’d had a fantastic evening, been very silly for a couple of hours, and achieved my three-point ambition for the day – I’d shaken Al’s hand, got the photo I wanted and even raised a laugh out of him.

Yet there was another reason why I felt so good.

I felt pretty good about myself.

Al Yankovic is the most famous person I have ever met. Yet this evening I proved to myself that I’ve finally shaken-off the inferiority that I used to feel at meeting people who are so much more successful than myself.

I guess that’s because, within the context of being forgiven, I allow myself to feel a little successful these days too.

Click here for "Weird Al" And Me part 1 of 5.
Click here for "Weird Al" And Me part 2 of 5.
Click here for "Weird Al" And Me part 3 of 5.
Click here for "Weird Al" And Me part 5 of 5.

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1 comment(s):

At 1:26 am, Blogger KlownKrusty said...

What?! Part 4 of 5? It was all a dream, right...? You won't catch me out twice like that, Goble! What do you think I am, some kinda klown?!


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