Weird Al Yankovic video contains greatest 'bits'

The Star Ledger
by Richard Harrington

For those interested -- and millions are -- Weird Al Yankovic now can be seen at home with new video releases:

THE 'WEIRD AL' YANKOVIC VIDEO LIBRARY, Unrated, 1992, 60 minutes, Scotti Bros., $19.98.

Call this Yankovic's "greatest bits" and realize that pop parody is an art form that too few artists have explored, except when their natural excess and abiding egos substitute for parody. Which, of course, left the field wide open for "Weird Al."

This 12-clip collection is quite current, including the recent "Smells Like Nirvana," Yankovic's dead-on lampooning of Nirvana's indecipherable "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (he gargles one verse, spews another with marbles in his mouth). Yankovic used many of the same actors and shot it on the same set as Nirvana -- it's as good as its inspiration, as is "Fat," his wickedly weighted parody of Michael Jackson's "Bad."

This is one where a special body suit and rubber prosthetics add a couple of hundred pounds to create a Pillsbury Doughboy Jackson, still leather-suited and prancing less than gracefully with an overweight crew in the same New York subway set where Jackson himself was "Bad." The best parodies, it seems, are those that most closely mimic the essence of their inspiration with exaggerated detail and sly expansion. Jackson gets another dose with "Eat It," his gang fantasy recast as a food fight. Others subject to varying degrees of mockrock are Madonna ("Like a Surgeon"), James Brown ("Living With A Hernia"), Devo ("Dare To Be Stupid") and Joan Jett ("I Love Rocky Road").

Not surprisingly, the videos with the biggest budgets and the most defined original sources -- "Fat" and "Nirvana" among them -- come across best.