To coincide with the release of his new album Mandatory Fun, “Weird Al” Yankovic did a question and answer session on Reddit, which was full of funny and interesting responses. Yankovic delves into a whole slew of different topics about his career, like how making song parodies is different now than it was 30 years ago, a studio’s plans to “make him their new Woody Allen” in the ‘80s, and why Mandatory Fun might be his final album.
Click through to read some of Yankovic’s best responses from yesterday’s AMA:
On whether this is his last album or not:
I haven’t made any real plans beyond the release of my current album, but since everybody’s asking… I’ll probably just be releasing singles (possibly EPs) going forward - I really don’t think the album format is the most efficient or intelligent way for me to distribute my music anymore. I highly doubt that I would sign with another label. I guess I might be open to a distribution deal, but… we’ll see. Anyway, I certainly wouldn’t want to have my releases on any kind of a schedule - that would be too much pressure, and it might actually start to feel like a JOB!
That happens sometimes in social settings - an artist will make a comment at a party or awards show like, “Hey Al, when are you going to do a parody of one of MY songs?” I don’t know if they’re being polite or making conversation, but that’s always nice to hear. Actually, last year I was in New York doing a satellite radio tour, and Graham Nash was in the very next room… and it just so happens I had just recorded my CSN pastiche “Mission Statement” (which is on the new album). So I walked over to say hi… he sees me, and the first words out of his mouth are, “So, when are you gonna do a parody of ‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes’??” I whipped out my iPhone and played “Mission Statement” for him. Instant request! (He loved it, BTW.)
You mean, besides UHF 2 through 8? Hmm… from what I recall, I was just starting to tinker around with another screenplay idea, but I stopped working on it after it became painfully clear that Orion wasn’t going to follow through on their promise to “make me their new Woody Allen.”
While it looks like there MIGHT have been an edit somewhere, I absolutely guarantee you, that was all done in ONE CONTINUOUS SHOT. That was a bit of a challenge for me, because I start the video on a 5th floor fire escape, and I reappear on street level wearing completely different clothes. That means - for EVERY TAKE - as soon as the camera was off me I had to run down 5 flights of stairs WHILE CHANGING MY CLOTHES so I could be on camera again at the end. Definitely got my workout THAT day!
I probably wouldn’t have a music career right now. The reason Dr. Demento played my material on the radio when I was a teenager wasn’t because it was so GOOD, it was because it was such a novelty hearing a kid rocking the accordion. Dr. D. probably wouldn’t have given my tape a second listen if I had been playing acoustic guitar. And if I hadn’t gotten that early encouragement, I highly doubt that I’d be doing a Reddit AMA right now.
The mechanics are pretty much the same, and in fact, because I’ve been doing it for so long I like to think that I’ve gotten better at it. The synapses in my brain are hard-wired that way now. The challenge for me is in finding new ways to be funny (i.e. not repeating myself too much), as well as finding ways to differentiate myself from the millions of other people now doing parody videos on YouTube.
One of my favorite reactions was from Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits. I did a parody of “Money For Nothing” in my movie UHF, and when I asked him for permission, he said, “Well, yeah… but you have to let me play GUITAR on it!!” So…. he did!I was tickled by Chamillionaire’s reaction to “White & Nerdy.” I ran into him on the Grammy red carpet a few years ago, right after he had won the award for Rap Song of the Year. He thanked me, because he said my parody made it undeniable that his song (“Ridin’”) was, in fact, the Rap Song of the Year!
You know what, I was very close to doing a parody called “Make It So” about Star Trek: The Next Generation… but then I checked online, and of course, somebody had done that already. And apparently it had gotten enough attention online to make the Disney legal department ask them to take it down! I couldn’t think of an idea that I liked as much as “Make It So,” so… I gave up!