If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then that makes parody…what? Hero worship? At the very least, it’s an acknowledgment of the power of another artist’s work and the mutability of that art. As a pop culture enthusiast and someone who can constantly make myself laugh with my own parodies, I’ve long loved the form, and I can trace that love to two sources: Spaceballs and “Weird Al” Yankovic. The former, I can see whenever I want to thanks to the magic of home video; the latter, the opportunity is far more elusive, so we’re extremely lucky that Al’s The Return of the Mandatory World Tour is coming to the Foellinger Outdoor Theatre here in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on Sunday, June 26 at 7:30 p.m.

In the days before Spotify and MP3 players, I rocked a Walkman cassette player, and I listened to “Weird Al’s” first greatest hits album more than just about any other tape I owned. Al’s genius could be heard on not only his parodies of the day’s most popular songs – “Like a Virgin,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” and “Mickey” were a few of his early ‘80s targets – but also on his song style parodies (and it’s because of Al that I have such a deep and abiding love of the accordion). Al later parlayed his popularity into semi-regular “takeovers” of MTV, a feature film, and a Saturday morning TV show, all of which prove his talent extends far beyond “making fun” of other artists. 

In a summer season full of legendary artists visiting the Summit City, this is the show I’m most looking forward to. Tickets range from $49 to $99 (processing fees may apply) and are still available. 

Get there early, and maybe you’ll get to drink from the firehose. Or at the very least, teach a poodle how to fly.