Weird Al Yankovic: Beyond the Music
Weird Al Yankovic is usually called a parody artist, but to describe him as just that negates his greatness. Yankovic, after all, creates comedy gold using other people's songs—but he's also an accomplished singer and songwriter who produces original music. Just recently, he added another bullet point to his résumé: children's-book author. When I Grow Up comes with an interactive app (available on iTunes), so if you've ever wanted to read along with Weird Al and play fun games with him, this is your chance. He spoke to OC Weekly about the book, artists he parodies, his stalkers and Justin Bieber.
OC Weekly: You've been so successful at poking fun at songs. Has anyone other than Coolio ever gotten really mad?
Weird Al: Well it's meant to be homage, and when I do the parodies, it is never mean-spirited—and the artists understand that. In Coolio's case, I thought that we did have permission because the label told me that it had cleared [using "Gansta's Paradise"] with him. After the fact, he claimed that it did not, so to this date, I don't know whom to believe. But nobody ever gets mad; they have no reason to.
I would think it would be somewhat of an honor!
If an artist doesn't want me to mess with their stuff, I would back off. I respect the wishes of artists. And yeah, some artists look at it as a rite of passage to get their Weird Al parody, so I generally don't run into problems!
Did you have any "Belieber" backlash after shooting him up in the video for "Polka Face"?
I'm sure out of all the gazillion followers, there was probably a couple of people who didn't get the joke or didn't realize that Justin Bieber did, in fact, sign off on using "Baby" in my polka medley. Most people understand that it's a joke and I'm not putting down their favorite artist. In fact, they shouldn't be upse—their favorite artist is in on the joke!
I get concerned about his followers. They are so impressionable and so obsessed.
My daughter [Nina] is 8, and we went to a Justin Bieber concert because she likes him. She just could not understand the whole hysteria. She just didn't get it—like, "Why are they losing their minds? I'm trying to enjoy the concert!" [Laughs]
Wait . . . you don't get fans like that?
[Laughs] I get a couple of them like that, but I have security usher them outside.
Did your daughter inspire you to write your children's book, When I Grow Up?
A lot of people assume that, but I've always been interested in children's literature. I've always wanted to write a children's book, but I was never really proactive about it. An editor at HarpersCollins said she was a fan of my work; she saw something in my lyrics and wordplay that indicated that I would be adept [at writing] children's literature. She made the generous offer to put it out, and I took her up on it!
Will there be any surprises at your show on Friday?
It's going to be pretty much the same tour that's on the DVD and Blu-ray, my Apocalypse tour. But if I had a surprise, I wouldn't tell you because then it wouldn't be a surprise!
What? I wouldn't tell!! I'm just taking notes. . . .
Yeah, I know how you work. [Laughs]
This article appeared in print as "Weird Al Grows Up: The parody artist goes beyond music and ventures into writing a children's book."
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