News Column

Rogers State University marks 25th anniversary of 'UHF' by dedicating supply closet to 'Weird Al' Yankovic

September 25, 2013

YellowBrix

Sept. 25--CLAREMORE -- David Blakely teaches theater at Rogers State University.

On Tuesday, he taught everyone the proper way to introduce musical comedian "Weird Al" Yankovic.

With a squeezebox.

"If you are an accordion player, you have to be used to jokes," said Blakely, who serenaded fellow accordionist Yankovic in Markham Hall. "This is the joke. We're going to dedicate this not with a brass band but with an accordion."

So it was at RSU.

Several dozen people gathered in a dimly lit hallway to dedicate a supply closet in honor of Yankovic, the top-selling comedy recording artist of all time.

The ceremony was a tribute to a gag in "UHF," a movie that starred Yankovic and was filmed 25 years ago in Tulsa.

"This is probably the greatest honor that has ever been bestowed upon me," Yankovic, winner of three Grammy awards, said Tuesday as the plaque on the door was unveiled.

Yankovic, 53, has endeared himself to generations of music fans with parodies of hits such as "Fat," "Eat It," "Smells Like Nirvana," "Amish Paradise," "My Bologna" and "White & Nerdy."

A veteran of more than 1,300 concerts, he has played in Tulsa frequently over the past two decades.

RSU Public TV is helping organize a schedule of activities in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the filming of "UHF."

"It's pretty cool," said RSU junior Matt Jordan, who came out for Tuesday's dedication. " It's small-town Clare- more, and somebody like 'Weird Al,' who is a YouTube hit and popular with his parodies, is here."

Sporting a Hawaiian shirt and his signature long locks, Yankovic hammed it up Tuesday.

He posed for photos with fans and even took pictures of people taking pictures of him.

"It's just a thrill and a treat to come back to Tulsa and be welcomed so warmly and know that the people have such fond memories of our experience here," he said. "I'm just very honored to be part of this."

Yankovic co-wrote the screenplay for "UHF," in which his character, George Newman, and his friend are fired from their jobs at a burger joint.

Newman ultimately takes over Channel 62, a failing local television station that a relative won in a poker game.

The movie features a "Spatula City" commercial scene.

"That was like one of those silly little gags that I wrote in my underwear at 3 o'clock in the morning," Yankovic said. "... Then we show up in Tulsa and then there are like trailer trucks full of spatulas. It was a big production.

"... The movie studio, Orion, was concerned because they had just green-lit this big movie, and all the footage they were getting was of people looking at spatulas. They thought, 'What kind of movie is this?' "

Released in 1989, the film received largely a negative response from critics.

But its popularity has mushroomed over the years via cable and home video.

"The movie is obviously 25 years old, and it's got more fans now than when it was released," Yankovic said.

"It's nice that people have discovered it over the years."

Significance of "Supplies" closet

In the movie "UHF," a man on the run comes across a door labeled "Supplies." When he opens it, four men dressed in karate attire yell "Supplies."

Events commemorate 'UHF' anniversary

"Weird Al" Yankovic celebrates the 25th anniversary of "UHF" with September/October events in Tulsa.

Oct. 5: Special "UHF" pledge-drive broadcasts on RSU Public TV (Cox 109/HD 793; 35 on DirecTV and Dish Network; antenna HD 35.1/35.2), with cast members from the movie appearing for in-studio interviews and to answer phones. On Oct. 6, the pledge drive continues with a showing of Yankovic live in concert for "The Alpocalypse Tour," first shown on Comedy Central in 2011.

Oct. 18: Beginning at noon and running for 24 consecutive hours, "UHF" screens at Circle Cinema, with prints of commemorative posters given away at drawings held in conjunction with the screenings.

Oct. 19: Yankovic and his band are live in concert for "The Alpocalypse Tour" at the Brady Theater. Tickets are available online at tulsa world.com/brady

Rhett Morgan 918-581-8395

rhett.morgan@tulsaworld.com

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