Weird Al Yankovic: egg on my face
A rambling by Tom Knapp, 26 May 1996

I took an egg for "Weird Al" Yankovic.

It wasn't selfless heroism that drove me to step between the prince of pop parody and the ovoid projectile. It was a simple matter of dumb luck and bad timing.

I was on the stage at Park City's Center Court in Lancaster, Pa., taking notes as "Weird Al'' signed autographs in front of thousands of enthusiastic fans. But one person out there didn't like Al's tunes -- perhaps taking offense at "Amish Paradise," which lampoons the plain folk of Lancaster County -- and decided to express his disdain through direct action.

So perhaps it was fate that made me notice a person with a camera in the crowd behind me. I stepped aside to give her a better view. And SMACK -- something hard hit my shoulder. Something sticky and wet hit my face. And something went PLOP on the floor at my feet.

I'd been egged. Al didn't even thank me for taking the shot as security guards hustled him from the stage.

Otherwise, the day was pretty uneventful at Park City, where Yankovic spent about two hours signing anything people put in front of him. While most fans stuck to the ordinary -- CDs, LPs, cassettes, videos and promo posters -- others were a little more creative.

"Ooh, my first can of Spam today," Yankovic said, when an unopened can of the meat product was placed on the table before him. Later, an empty Spam can also passed under his pen. He also signed a yellow rubber duck, a baseball, several caps, a few t-shirts (some being worn at the time) and one man's paint-spattered shorts. Between signatures, he made faces at cameras.

Lynn Rossi of Lancaster was the first person to collect the star's signature. She arrived at the mall at 8 a.m. to get in line, she said, after driving from Schuylkill Haven, where she attends school.

"It was definitely worth the wait," she said. "I've been listening to his music since it first came out."

The people in line behind Rossi numbered in the thousands, stretching in loops around Center Court, down the Sears Mall, through the exit and down the sidewalk outside. Many of the people who stood patiently for two or more hours never even got close to the stage.

"When I got here at 11:30, I was at Sears," said Matt Stetler of Lancaster. "At 1:30 we were only at Radio Shack, so we gave up." His friend, Scott Sullivan of Marietta, said they decided to skip the line and try to catch a glimpse of Yankovic from the crowd surrounding the stage.

Lori Dunkle of Lancaster was luckier. She didn't stand in line at all, choosing instead to stand beside the stage with a friend, wearing handmade Weird Al t-shirts and a hand-lettered banner. A member of the Yankovic entourage took the banner up for them to be signed.

Yankovic made the appearance as a preliminary to two shows at Hersheypark Sunday evening. After a trip north for a concert in Connecticut, he will return to Pennsylvania for a Wednesday evening show at the Valley Forge Music Center in Devon.

He arrived at Park City shortly after noon Sunday in a white stretch limo, walking to Center Court with a trademark Hawaiian shirt and a loose-legged stride reminiscent of Shaggy from the old Scooby Doo cartoons. Despite his cheery grin and waves to the crowd, he looked tired.

One security guard estimated the crowd at 2,000. Another guard said that guess was conservative.

"I could die now," said David Eckel of Lititz, after making it through the line. Eckel said his Weird Al devotion sprang from the musician's parodies of several Michael Jackson tunes. "I like the parodies," Eckel said. "I don't like Michael Jackson."

Emily Carrigan of Lancaster said she's loved Yankovic since she was little. "I liked his parodies," she said. "Then I started liking his polkas, where he smashes all the songs together." Luckily, she her husband, Warren, shares her taste. "It's the anthem of our marriage," she said. "We have everything he's done."

Michael Shoupe of Lancaster said he identifies with Yankovic's "little weird warped twisted songs."

Josh Tober, 9, and his sister Melanie, 8, of Lancaster, are recent fans. They said they were hooked by "Amish Paradise," his most recent hit. "I like his songs," Melanie said. "They're wicked."

A pair of Lancaster youngsters approached the stage, singing loudly along with Weird Al's latest album. But even more than his music, they admire his fashion sense. "He looks great," said Gie Park. Pal Zack Trimble added: "He's got the coolest clothes."

There were, despite some predictions, no chanting throngs of people offended by Yankovic's parody of the bucolic Amish lifestyle. Then again, Yankovic's visit didn't draw a large crowd of Amish admirers, either. There weren't any Amish people in evidence at the event, although Yankovic did say he signed autographs for a few people claiming to be Amish.

He didn't have a chance to see the Amish countryside while in town, Yankovic said with a disappointed frown. "I mostly just saw some of the downtown," he said.

by Tom Knapp