Odd Al Yankovic on Madonna, New Music, Outlasting Stars He Parodies

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Let’s travel back to the summer of 1989. I’m 15 a long time outdated and have just put two huge motion picture posters on my wall: A person for Tim Burton’s video game-changing just take on “Batman,” starring Michael Keaton, and the other for “UHF,” the theatrical comedy debut for the a person and only “Weird Al” Yankovic.

It’s now 2023. Keaton is back as Batman in future month’s “The Flash.” And Odd Al (generally Unusual Al, not just Al Yankovic!) is the front-runner for this year’s Tv set motion picture Emmy, many thanks to the Roku Channel parody biopic “Weird: The Al Yankovic Tale.”

“1989 is back again all over again! It’s all cyclical,” Yankovic claims in his signature cheery, upbeat tone. Inform my 15-year-outdated self that a person working day he’ll be recording a podcast with Bizarre Al, and 1st he’d say, “what’s a podcast?” But just after describing that it’s effectively a radio show, my 15-calendar year-aged self would get rid of his head. And inquire about 2023’s traveling automobiles. Sorry child.

But back to Al. This is a man who has now spent 5 a long time in the limelight — much more time than a lot of of the artists he has parodied in excess of the decades. “Nobody wanted to indication me in the early ‘80s,” he says. “They believed, ‘comedy new music, you’re a novelty artist.’ And traditionally, novelty artists grow to be one-hit wonders, and then they are forgotten rapidly. So yeah, that is form of the massive irony of my lifetime is, I’m continue to right here.”

Bizarre Al is so timeless that he has managed to engage in the 1980s variation of himself on shows like “How I Satisfied Your Mother” and “The Goldbergs,” and get absent with it. In “Weird,” Daniel Radcliffe performs Al — but Yankovic is there also, appearing as document enterprise exec Tony Scotti (the person who first gave Weird Al his record deal).

Yankovic has gained 5 Grammy awards and sold extra than 12 million albums. Some of that is in “Weird,” which he wrote with Eric Appel. But make no error, this is by no signifies an real biopic. Of system the grasp of parody would in the long run make a parody of biopics: Despite what you see on display, Odd Al did not have a torrid love affair with Madonna (played by Evan Rachel Wooden). He didn’t turn out to be a drug kingpin. And Dr. Demento (played by Rainn Wilson) never laced Al’s guacamole with LSD.

“It introduced me so a lot pleasure to see that was the variety a single Google lookup, ‘Did Strange Al and Madonna have a fling?’ or what ever. I don’t know if Madonna is even mindful of this movie,” he states. “I’m extremely curious what she thinks… I hope she’s Alright with it.”

“Weird Al” Yankovic photographed for Range on April, 25, 2023 at the PMC Studio in Los Angeles.
Dan Doperalski for Wide variety

Odd Al famously normally got authorization from artists just before parodying their tunes — which is why he by no means obtained to do his get on nearly anything from Prince’s catalog. But when it came to the motion picture, “our legal professionals stated, ‘don’t be concerned about it.’ Community figure.”

Apparently, a variety of viewers who have taken “Weird” as a true chronicle of his lifetime, in spite of the sheer absurdity of wherever the tale finishes up likely. “I’ve acquired about the World wide web and the standard inhabitants, no matter how ironic and clearly insincere you’re currently being, somebody’s heading to feel it,” he chuckles.

Or it’s possible just want to believe it. In my youth, I employed to stay for the moments when Weird Al would present up on MTV, underneath the illusion that he had hacked into the network to broadcast his own “AL Television set.” I understood it was a marketing stunt, but I beloved the audacity of the strategy that Al had barged into the studios to engage in novelty new music movies and phony, doctored interviews with stars.

“They basically gave me the keys to the car,” he remembers. “They’d say, ‘Hey, you have bought four hrs, do no matter what you want.’ Pretty much! They did not give me any cash, but they gave me full freedom, which was incredible.”

Consider it from me: The 1980s had been a strange time. Thankfully, at the very least just one icon from that period nevertheless is: The for good odd Al Yankovic.

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A couple of other tidbits from our chat with Weird Al:

  • Really don’t hope a new album whenever before long. “I signed a record deal in 1982 for 10 albums, and then I renegotiated two times, and it turned a 14-album contract, which I last but not least fulfilled in 2014,” he claims. “I just really don’t want to sign under the agreement. I like becoming a free of charge agent and doing no matter what I require to do or want to do. I’m much more into just one-off things now. Mainly because when you do an album, if you are accomplishing my kind of substance, it’s really hard to have 12 tracks prepared to go all at the moment and have them all be topical and timely. I like acquiring the liberty of staying able to just place out material each time I truly feel like it. Granted, I have not finished a good deal of that since 2014.”
  • Strange Al is familiar with there are petitions to get him to complete the Tremendous Bowl halftime clearly show. But he does not think he’ll at any time be on the NFL shortlist. “I’m just remaining genuine listed here. I just don’t see it at any time happening. Perhaps the Foo Fighters will do it and have me on as a distinctive guest… That form of phase scares me for a number of motives. Just one of which is, no matter who you are, when you’re put in front of that several eyeballs, you’re heading to have a large amount of haters. And I know I never like staying hated.”
  • It was the Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” that inspired him to do “Weird.” “Biopics historically have constantly been pretty inaccurate, and that always type of bugged me,” he suggests. “That’s one particular of the factors why I determined to reach out to Eric Appel to publish the screenplay. I’m a massive Queen admirer, and I appreciated the motion picture and it received awards and was quite popular. But it bothered me that there were so lots of creative liberties taken, just flat out modifying the info, modifying the chronology, just building it more quote unquote, cinematic, and I imagined, ‘Okay, effectively, possibly I can do a biopic but just like, just throw facts out the window. Just go entirely off the rails.’”
  • Unusual Al appreciates his mother and father, who died in 2004, would “have gotten a large kick out” of the motion picture, even nevertheless it reveals them as jokingly disapproving of his tunes. “They would have gotten that it is a joke. They know me. My dad and mom had been pretty loving and pretty supportive, and that’s not the form of dynamic who ever see in a rock tunes biopic. It’s just not one particular of the tropes. So we experienced to make it so that the whole arc of the motion picture is I’m attempting to get my my father’s really like. Since he hates parody audio, he hates accordions, he hates every little thing about who I’m making an attempt to be. The overreaching theme of the film is like, I’m popular, I have ostensibly acquired almost everything I could potentially want, other than for the like of my mother and father. So that that experienced to be what we were heading for.”

(Also in this episode, on the Awards Circuit roundtable, we converse about the insane end of May Tv set pileup this weekend, which features the series finales of “Succession” and “Barry.”)

Variety’s “Awards Circuit” podcast, developed by Michael Schneider, is your a single-end pay attention for energetic conversations about the best in film and tv. Each week “Awards Circuit” attributes interviews with leading movie and Television set talent and creatives discussions and debates about awards races and business headlines and much far more. Subscribe by means of Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or anywhere you obtain podcasts. New episodes publish weekly.