Last year was a big year for Weird Al Yankovic: His album Mandatory Fun became his highest-charting release ever, reaching number one on the Billboard charts and winning a Grammy for best comedy album. He unleashed a string of music videos that racked up millions of views online. And nearly 130,000 fans signed a Change.org petition for him to play the Super Bowl halftime show. We recently chatted with the singer, whose Mandatory World Tour hits Chastain Park Amphitheater this month:
Were you bummed not to play the Super Bowl?
I was a little relieved, frankly. Certainly if I’d been asked to play, that’s not the kind of thing that you turn down, but at the same time, I would have had nonstop diarrhea until the actual performance. But I don’t think I’m exactly [the NFL’s] cup of tea.
Where do you get your ideas for song parodies?
Usually, it starts with a song, and then I’ll think about what would work and what has the most comedic potential. Every now and then, I’ll reverse engineer it. For example, I knew I wanted to do [a parody] about the Star Wars prequel, but I didn’t know what song I wanted to pair it with. Eventually, I decided on Don McLean’s “American Pie.” (Sample lyric: “Oh my my, this here Anakin guy/ Maybe Vader someday later, now he’s just a small fry.”)
You recently joined several kids with autism in a version of “Yoda” for Night of Too Many Stars. How did that come about?
[Comedian and writer] Robert Smigel, who’s in charge of putting that benefit together, contacted me and asked if I’d like to perform with [autistic singer] Jodi DiPiazza. A little bit of me was thinking: Are you sure you want to do this tear-jerking performance with me rather than someone more serious? But it wound up being pretty amazing.
I have to ask: What’s the secret to your incredible curly hair?
I really don’t do anything special. Everybody wants what they don’t have, so in high school, I always wanted straight hair. But I’ve come to embrace my curls.
Your fans are a pretty devoted bunch. Do they dress up for your shows?
I definitely see a lot of Hawaiian shirts or [costumes] from the various characters I’ve played in music videos over the years. It gives them an excuse to let their weird flag fly.