Weird Gets Raw

For a short while now, William Shatner has been doing this one-on-one talk show called Shatner's Raw Nerve. It airs on the Biography channel, and is also sold on the U.S. iTunes store. The setting is almost artful in its simplicity: just Shatner and one guest -- in his 26 episodes (and counting), he's had people ranging from Scott Baio to Judge Judy to porn star Jenna Jameson to Meat Loaf to Whoopi Goldberg to, inevitably, his Star Trek compatriot Leonard Nimoy -- having an intimate chat with no studio audience.

Recently, his guest of honor was "Weird Al" Yankovic. As you might imagine, a conflux of two of my favorite pop-culture personalities in one place was too much of a temptation to resist. Knowing most of what there is to know about Al, I expected a rather uninformative, somewhat superficial half-hour of little interest. But you can imagine my surprise when I found myself watching something entirely different ... and unexpectedly riveting. I realized that while I know nearly all the facts, of any significance, about Al's life, he's never dropped his Weirdness long enough to let the world in for a real look, not that he's ever "owed" us one (after all, being Weird is his job!).

Shatner isn't afraid to use the title of his show quite literally and broach the touchy subjects -- and with Al it's no exception. He's begun to mellow with fatherhood and with age (though he can still tuck his ankle behind his neck!), and he rarely if ever sheds his "Weird" persona before the press or the cameras, so this is a rare glimpse into the real Al. Whether you have just a passing interest in Al, or have been a lifelong fan as I have, I can guarantee that you've never seen Al as truly human before as he is here, and it's really quite moving. You can buy this episode (and the whole series) on the U.S. iTunes store.

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