Back in November of last year, I attended Rhode Island Comic-Con for the first time. I knew beforehand that it was going to be a madhouse, a much bigger con than I was used to, but there was one name on the list of celebrities that had seduced me: Weird Al Yankovic.
I had been a huge fan of Al's since the early '80s, and I had seen him plenty of times in concert, but this was going to be my first opportunity to actually MEET the man. I was beside myself with anticipation in the weeks leading up to the con.
My wife and I came up with a highly convoluted plan that would get me the maximum amount of time with Al: we would get in line for his booth and get him to sign one of his 8x10s, then we would have a photo op with him, and then we would bring the photo op photo to him to sign. Nothing stalkerish about that, right?
So we lined up for Phase 1 of the plan, and I can't recall ever being so nervous about meeting a celebrity in my life. We finally had our moment with him, and it was ... okay. He wasn't rude or mean or anything, but he also wasn't particularly warm or friendly. I tried to engage him in conversation, but he didn't seem interested. So I told him that we had a photo op with him later and we'd see him then.
The photo op setup was, not to put too fine a point on it, a shit show. We waited about 40 minutes in a monstrous, increasingly agitated crowd, and when we had our moment with Al, it was literally just that. A moment. It was hard to tell if he recognized us from before. He probably didn't.
So then back to his table to get him to sign the photo we'd just taken together. By this point I felt like we had paid the equivalent of a VIP pass so we'd get a little more out of the man, but no. He was just signing pictures and shaking hands. Nothing more.
It might not have been so noticeable if his booth hadn't been set up next to Thomas F. Wilson's (Back to the Future's Biff). Thomas was striking up conversations with everybody, whether they were paying him or not, and really took the time to make everybody feel special. Not Al. He just did what he was brought there to do. No more, no less.
I realize it's not fair of me to impose Biff's gregariousness onto Al, but honestly, if I had fans who really wanted to meet me, I would be tripping over myself to make them feel welcome. But not Al.
The worst part about this entire experience is that I've soured on Al's music. I used to really, genuinely enjoy it, but now when I hear a song of his, all I can think about is his weak handshake, his lack of enthusiasm, and his shrugging demeanor. So yeah, take this lesson from me, kids. Don't meet your heroes. They'll only break your heart.