Weird Al's shtick still draws a crowd
Weird Al is one strange duck.
For the past three decades, Alfred Matthew Yankovic has been tickling the pop culture funny bone as Weird Al with ridiculously catchy spoofs of modern pop hits such as "Another One Rides The Bus," "Eat it" and "Smells Like Nirvana."
Weird Al Yankovic, right, will appear at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Big Easy Concert House. (Associated Press )
But now, years removed from his first break in the music business – when a teenage Yankovic sent a few accordion-fueled parodies to the nationally syndicated comedy and novelty show Dr. Demento, and quickly went from comic cult hero to gargantuan pop music icon – the historical irony and oddity of Weird Al's career is impossible for anyone to deny, let alone Weird Al.
"My career sure is froth with irony, isn't it?" he says and laughs. "If you look at all the parody songs I've done over the years – especially the ones I did early on in my career – many of the artists just don't seem to be around any more."
Yankovic, who will be at the Big Easy Concert House on Sunday, is nothing short of a pop culture phenomenon – a parody artist who has managed to outlast many of those he's actually parodied and a musician who has managed to keep his act fresh while the majority of his peers often have struggled and failed to sustain appeal throughout the decades.
Weird Al Yankovic
When: 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: Big Easy
Tickets: $30.50/$40.50, through TicketsWest, (509) 325-SEAT
Just last year, Yankovic's release Poodle Hat – full of cheeseball parodies of Eminem, Avril Lavigne, Backstreet Boys and other of-the-moment pop stars – took home a 2003 Grammy for Best Comedy Album.
Of course, you might figure the 54-year-old Yankovic would find it hard to maintain staying power today as he faces parodying rock stars nearly half his age. Not a chance, Yankovic says.
"I don't think my age is a factor," he says. "It is a little harder these days [to be Weird Al], but not because I don't know what 20-year-old kids are listening to. I like to think I still listen to the same music they do."
Yankovic says the biggest adjustment over the years has been keeping up with the music industry's seismic changes.
"Today it's much harder to discern what a hit song is because the music industry has gotten so fragmented," Yankovic says. "MTV used to be a really good barometer of what a hit song was. But nowadays, they hardly even play videos."
And while it's harder to choose which hit song to parody, Yankovic is quick to point out he still uses the same Weird Al formula to derive his hits.
"If you have to second-guess what people think is funny, you're doing comedy the wrong way. Basically, you just have to make yourself laugh," Yankovic says.
"You have to assume that if you think something is funny, and your friends think it's funny, then hopefully a few million other people will think it's funny too."
Millions have, and Weird Al will be etched into the annals of modern music history. But where and how that name will be filed is anyone's guess.
"That's the problem with my chosen career, I don't fall neatly into any category," Yankovic says. "I just sort of fall between the cracks."