But this year, the keynote speaker was "Weird Al" Yankovic. To be a guest at the same event as Weird Al was a CLEAR highlight for my career. Even better than when I was on the same radio show as Hulk Hogan.
The first album I ever owned was Al's Even Worse record - it's still probably just about the only album I could sing along with line for line. I have every one of his records, and a White and Nerdy hoody.
Al is a role model for anyone working in comedy or satire - the man works his butt off and takes what he does very, very seriously without taking HIMSELF that seriously. It's a tough line to walk! To keep it up for roughly 30 years takes an incredible amount of dedication. I only know a few authors who've been in the game that long, and they're mostly bitter and grumpy. I'm already bitter and grumpy most of them time when talking about my career. Al has plenty of reason to be bitter; he has to take the blame for every crappy parody that he didn't write floating on the internet (which are often attributed to him erroneously), and he's been working in the music business and film business for three decades (two businesses that are generally known for being even worse than publishing). But if he's bitter, you'd never know it.
Me grinning like a chubby-cheeked fool. Obvious reasons.
Above: Al was nice enough to sign my spatula, which is now a centerpiece at Smart Aleck HQ.
Working my table with Al in the background at his.