From The Weirdly Enduring Appeal of Weird Al Yankovic by Sam Anderson:
Alfred Matthew Yankovic grew up not in Los Angeles proper but outside of it, near Compton, in the working-class suburb of Lynwood. He was an only child, a miracle baby, born late in his parents’ life near the tail end of the baby boom, in 1959. Weird Al’s mother, Mary, loved her son nearly to the point of suffocation. She would devote her life to protecting him from all the many dangers of the world, real and imaginary.
Although Alfred’s grades were perfect, and he could solve any math problem you threw at him, his social life was agonizing. Imagine every nerd cliché: He was scrawny, pale, unathletic, nearsighted, awkward with girls — and his name was Alfred. And that’s all before you even factor in the accordion.
Mary Yankovic was so overprotective that her son spent much of his life alone in his room. He never played at friends’ houses, never had sleepovers, never explored his neighborhood on his bike. The farthest he was allowed to ride was half a block, to his Aunt Dot’s house, and his mother would stand on the lawn and watch. For Alfred’s protection, she would censor the mail, sifting through catalogs page by page with a black marker in hand, scribbling out anything inappropriate: bra ads, pictures of women in bikinis.
At 16, Alfred Yankovic graduated high school. He was valedictorian, and his speech at the ceremony was dutiful, serious and formal. And then Yankovic finally escaped his lonely bedroom: He packed up his things, loaded up the junky old family car and drove off — alone — to start a new life. He would study architecture at California Polytechnic State University, about four hours north of home. As he drove off, Alfred’s parents got in their new car and followed directly behind him. Alfred watched them in his rearview mirror. As soon as he hit the freeway, he gunned the engine and lost them.
If, in the superhero narrative of Weird Al Yankovic, there is a radioactive spider-bite moment, it has to be open-mic night at Cal Poly in 1977. Imagine the scene: a bunch of longhaired idealists with banjos and acoustic guitars, ready to shock the world with the beauty of their fingerpicking. And then Weird Al steps onstage. He brought with him not only his accordion and his large glasses and his little mustache but his whole awkward chaotic energy. Miller set up his bongos, and together the pair launched into the exact opposite of earnest folk music. Yankovic played “Wipeout” and “Also Sprach Zarathustra” and a 10-minute medley that he claimed covered every song ever written in the history of the world.
Before that night, Yankovic’s public performances included childhood accordion competitions and a cousin’s wedding. Now he was sharing his own music, the essence of himself, with a roomful of strangers. The odds were high that he would bomb, then disappear back into his tiny room forever.
Instead, the opposite happened: The crowd went crazy. Weird Al’s ridiculous music got a standing ovation. The applause would not stop. People hollered for more.
Weird Al has spent basically his whole life making his music for exactly these people, which is to say for his childhood self. For many decades, he has been trying to delight Alfred Yankovic, the bright, painfully shy kid who grew up alone in his tiny bedroom. For the benefit of that lonely boy, he reshaped the whole world of pop culture. His ridiculous music sent out a pulse, a signal, and these were the people it drew: the odd, the left out. A crowd of friends for that lonely kid. As I watched him with his fans, sometimes I felt as if Weird Al was multiplying all around me, multiplying inside of me. We were one crowd, united in isolation, together in a great collective loneliness that — once you recognized it, once you accepted it — felt right on the brink of being healed.
Feels like a Broadway musical to me.