When you think about why you really love “Stranger Things,” “The Force Awakens,” “Steven Universe” or a dozen other geek-friendly projects, it often isn’t because of the talent or skill upon which the work was built. More often than not, the principle virtue is that the creators were really, really good … at not growing up.
For the majority of us, once we hit middle school we’re constantly being told by society to act more like a grown-up, quit daydreaming and leave childish things behind. But many beloved talents like Tim Burton, The Duffer Brothers or JJ Abrams succeed because they clearly remember what it’s like to be a child — and when the moment calls for it, they can slip into that mindset like it’s an old pair of slippers.
One man-child who gets far less respect, however, is the inimitable “Weird Al” Yankovic. On Tuesday (Aug. 23), Weird Al released the opening credits to his upcoming Disney XD series “Milo Murphy’s Law,” in which the 56-year-old musician voices a 13-year-old boy.
Below, Zap2it lays out 5 reasons why Al may be the most perfectly-qualified person in the history of pop culture for this assignment.
… And the Joker got away
If there’s one weapon essential to survival in this sometimes-difficult world in which we live, it is subversion. More powerful than a mere sense of humor, less cruel than mockery, it gives us the ability to take those in power down a peg, laugh at art that takes itself too seriously and harness the freeing power of being a smart-aleck.
For many American children, their introduction to this is during the many years spent singing “Jingle Bells.” The eventual introduction to the alternate “Jingle Bells, Batman smells” lyrics by some twinkly-eyed, subversive relative is a truly wonderful discovery.
For the last four decades, the next step for millions of those children has been Weird Al. Spoofing Michael Jackson (“Eat It”), Iggy Azalea (“Handy”) and countless other artists in-between, he has been a steady presence since the early ’80s, serving the vital role of the troublemaking kid in the back of the class.
The return of Al TV
In the early days of MTV, Yankovic used to regularly “steal” the signal of the network for weekends at a time, broadcasting his own anarchic spoof of the network called, “Al TV.” Far more than simply showing his videos, Al would appear as VJ, host “cooking segments” that had him consuming strange combinations of junk food and even cut together “interviews” asking silly questions of previously-taped guests.
Decades later, with help from the creators of “Phineas and Ferb,” the hope is that Al’s “Milo” can once again harness that absurdity and make a generation of 13-year-olds feel the same way 1984’s tweens did. Because in 2016, we could all use some “Al TV.”
He’s got it all on ‘UHF’
Weird Al was the mastermind behind 1989’s “UHF,” a comedy that boasted a sweet storyline, spoofs of classics like “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Gandhi” and … it didn’t make any money. But something funny happened on the way to the discount bin: “UHF” became a cult movie, and was just recently praised on the popular cinephile podcast “Does Your Favorite Movie Suck?” as a movie that, well, does not suck.
The general consensus these days is that “UHF’ was too far ahead of its time and, under better circumstances, could have been a massive hit. Maybe this time, the time is right for a Weird Al renaissance.
He’s got the kid demo down
If you have any children in your life, you may be familiar with Yankovic’s delightful children’s books “When I Grow Up” and “My New Teacher and Me!” While many celeb attempts at children’s literature are vanity projects that remind parents how out of touch those stars are with what interests children, Weird Al crafted two very silly, twisted tales that genuinely elicit belly laughs.
He’s still daring to be stupid
All these years later, Al is still cranking out the same subversive — but never mean or foul-mouthed — humor aimed at children of all ages. It’s always easy to dismiss a jester, but it is nearly impossible to name another pop culture figure who has channeled his inner child with such longevity, consistency and success.
“Milo Murphy’s Law” is a show about a boy who keeps having everything go wrong. But knowing that another generation of kids is about to grow up with Weird Al Yankovic? Well, that just feels so right.
“Milo Murphy’s Law” premieres October 3 on Disney XD.