With the look he favored for years — vibrant Hawaiian shirts, wire-rimmed glasses, big mustache, and accordion strapped to his chest — “Weird Al” Yankovic didn’t strike the common image of a rock star. And yet, he absolutely was one, and among the most successful of all time. Yankovic launched to stardom in the early 1980s by performing ridiculously silly and over-the-top parodies of popular songs, creating “My Bologna” out of the Knack’s “My Sharona,” or “Like a Surgeon” from Madonna’s “Like a Virgin.” More than just a spoof songwriter, Yankovic had a unique and singular comic sensibility, and his career coincided with the development and dominance of music video, making Yankovic an MTV superstar.
Yankovic’s career has lasted far longer than most of the musicians he’s parodied. He may not be as prominent as he once was, but he’s still out there entertaining large groups of very appreciative fans who made him into an icon of music, comedy, and nerd culture. Here’s a look at what “Weird Al” Yankovic has been up to over the past few years.
In 2014, a Weird Al Yankovic album finally conquered the chart
It’s not like “Weird Al” Yankovic ever went away — he just doesn’t garner the mainstream attention he once did. His engaging and comedic videos were a staple of MTV and other networks in the 1980s and 1990s, but when those channels largely dropped videos in favor of reality shows and scripted programming, artists like Yankovic lost a major promotional outlet and pipeline to fame. Yankovic has continued to make music, releasing four albums since 2000, catering to a sizable and consistently devoted fanbase: Poodle Hat (2003), Straight Outta Lynwood (2006), Apocalypse (2011), and Mandatory Fun (2014). All four charted in the top 20 of Billboard’s Top 200 albums chart, while Straight Outta Lynwood was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association for sales of half a million copies.
That LP debuted at No. 10, giving Yankovic the first top 10 album of his career. Simultaneously, the record’s leadoff single, “White and Nerdy” (a parody of Chamillionaire’s “Ridin'”) hit No. 9 on the Hot 100 singles chart, the highest placement ever for a Yankovic song. Mandatory Fun, Yankovic’s fourteenth and final studio album as of the time of writing, brought the music industry veteran a long-awaited achievement: It debuted at No. 1, the musician’s first-ever chart-topper.
Weird Al Yankovic got married and had a kid
He may sing funny versions of rock songs, but “Weird Al” Yankovic is a legitimate rock star. At the height of his fame in the 1980s and 1990s, he conducted his love life the way a rock star might, dating a string of famous and beautiful women. He just kept his relationships relatively low-key. According to a 1999 “Ask Al” entry from his website (via the World of Weird Al Yankovic forum), he dated singer Nicolette Larson, Berlin frontwoman Teri Nunn, Saturday Night Live veteran Laraine Newman, and UHF co-star Victoria Jackson.
In the early 2000s, Yankovic married 20th Century Fox executive Suzanne Krajewski. He told Rolling Stone that they were paired up by mutual friend Bill Mumy, the former child star who portrayed Will Robinson on Lost in Space. The Yankovics are still together, and in 2003 they welcomed their only child, a daughter named Nina. They all live together in a big house overlooking Los Angele, and as Yankovic said in Rolling Stone, the place was once owned and presumably remodeled by the late rapper Heavy D.
Weird Al Yankovic's parents died at the same time
“Weird Al” Yankovic was back in the headlines in April 2004, but unfortunately it was for tragic reasons: There was a bizarre, deadly accident that involved the singer’s parents. According to the Los Angeles Times, on the afternoon of April 9, 2004, members of the Yankovic family went to the Fallbrook, California, home of 86-year-old Nick Yankovic and 81-year old Mary Yankovic. According to the report, “The relatives went to the house because they had not seen the couple in a while and were concerned.” They were not okay — an investigation would show that the two had died of carbon monoxide poisoning. As “Weird Al” shared on his website, his parents “had started a fire in the fireplace with the flue closed, and were asphyxiated.”
The musician was on his way to a concert at the time, and according to the statement he posted on his site, he learned of their deaths from his wife, Suzanne Yankovic, who called him on his tour bus. “Weird Al” went ahead and performed that week. “I briefly considered canceling some shows, but I ultimately decided that it would be better for me personally to continue working. Plus, I’ve heard from so many people over the years that my music has cheered them up in times of tragedy,” he said. “Going up on stage in front of thousands of supportive fans is a cathartic and somewhat therapeutic experience for me right now.”
Voice acting has been a good gig for Weird Al Yankovic
“Weird Al” Yankovic was only a song parody artist for the first few years of his career. A guy with such a distinctive personality, appearance, and comedy style was ideally suited to television. Beginning in 1984, he hosted 10 MTV takeover-style specials called Al TV, and in 1997 CBS gave him his own Saturday morning variety program called The Weird Al Show.
In recent years, Yankovic has turned in a lot of TV appearances as a voiceover artist, playing cartoon characters or cameoing as animated versions of himself. He’s played everything from a singing minstrel on Lilo & Stitch: The Series to sentient robot Wreck-Gar on Transformers: Animated to Banana Man on Adventure Time to Darkseid on Teen Titans Go! to Captain Peanutbutter on BoJack Horseman, and “Weird Al” Yankovic on Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?, Back at the Barnyard, and The Simpsons.
Weird Al Yankovic co-hosted a talk show
The 2010s Los Angeles alternative comedy scene — exemplified by dozens of comedy podcasts, improv troupes, and stand-up comedy showcases — welcomed “Weird Al” Yankovic into its fold. Over the last decade or so, Yankovic has popped up in projects written and co-starring hip and influential comedy figures. He had a recurring role as Uncle Muscles on the bizarre Adult Swim sketch series Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, guest-starred on an episode of the reality show parody The Hotwives of Orlando, played himself and a character on the medical show spoof Childrens Hospital, Jackie Brazen in Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, and Adolf Hitler on an episode of Drunk History.
This Yankovic second act (or comedy elder status) culminated in a gig as co-host of Comedy Bang Bang, the surreal, semi-scripted IFC talk show / talk show parody hosted by sketch comedian and Behind Two Ferns co-creator Scott Aukerman. In the series’ fifth season, Yankovic became the show’s third sidekick and bandleader, taking over for rapper Kid Cudi, who replaced experimental musician Reggie Watts.
Touring is still very much a part of Weird Al Yankovic's life
While “Weird Al” Yankovic has released just four albums since 2000, he still gets out on the road to play concerts for thousands of fans at a time, playing hits and deep cuts from his catalog even if he doesn’t have a current project to promote. In the 21st century, Yankovic has embarked on eight concert tours, usually heading out in the spring and summer to play small clubs, playhouses, fairs, casinos, and amphitheaters. According to the New York Times, Yankovic will perform, and perform hard, for as much as two hours, providing a show full of multimedia elements, big set pieces, props, and multiple costume changes. (He’ll dress like Kurt Cobain for the Nirvana parody “Smells like Nirvana,” and ride a Segway during “White & Nerdy,” for example.)
All that touring, year in and year out, has helped to make Yankovic very rich — no joke. As he notes on his website, he’s “the biggest-selling comedy recording artist of all time,” with the Recording Industry Association of America certifying sales of nine million albums in the United States alone. Yankovic has more money in the bank than many if not most so-called serious musicians. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Yankovic, who turned 60 years old in 2019, has an estimated fortune worth about $20 million.
The cinematic ambitions of Weird Al Yankovic
In 1989, Yankovic made his feature film debut, starring in and writing UHF, a silly comedy about a guy who takes over a small TV station and fills it with weird and wacky shows. It was a major flop at the box office (it earned just $6 million) but became a cult classic, particularly among Yankovic’s fanbase. That said, if the opportunity to make a sequel presented itself, Yankovic isn’t on board. He told Rolling Stone in 2014 that while he would like to make another full-length movie, UHF 2 “wouldn’t be my first choice, or even my 10th choice.”
At one point, Yankovic shared on his blog that his long-awaited second feature was ready to go, a made-for-Cartoon Network live-action movie based on a script he wrote, set to start shooting around 2010. Yankovic planned to direct, but not appear in the theoretically film. “We had a deal and everything. We were getting ready to go into pre-production and the whole thing fell apart,” he recalled to Rolling Stone.
Instead of movies, Yankovic has directed many shorts — 16 of his own music videos, including the clips for spoofs “White & Nerdy,” “It’s All About the Pentiums,” and “Perform This Way.” He even makes videos for other acts, including Hanson, directing the family band’s “River.”
Weird Al Yankovic also became a children's book author
The music of “Weird Al” Yankovic always appealed to children — his song parodies are usually silly, and tackle innocent, kid-accessible subjects like food and Star Wars, and they never included profanity. He also had a Saturday morning TV show and has voiced many cartoon characters, so it’s only logical that Yankovic would one day more directly address his youngest fans by writing a couple of children’s books.
In 2011, Yankovic published the Dr. Seuss-like, rhyming storybook (and an accompanying app) called When I Grow Up. Illustrated by Wes Hargis and credited to simply “Al Yankovic” (no “Weird” in sight), it tells the tale of a little boy named Billy fantasizing about his future career prospects. Two years later, Yankovic and Hargis teamed up again for the sequel, My New Teacher and Me! This time, Billy has a hard time getting along with a new schoolteacher, who has a problem with the kid’s vivid and boisterous imagination.
Weird Al Yankovic took a stand on some issues
Over the course of 40 years as a public figure, “Weird Al” Yankovic has usually kept his personal views private. However, in 2019, he had to speak out on a topic with which he had some familiarity: the legacy of Michael Jackson. While the deceased King of Pop faced numerous allegations and court proceedings of sexual abuse during his lifetime, it wasn’t until the release of the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, built on interviews with two Jackson accusers, when the entertainment world stopped lauding Jackson. Radio stations removed his songs from playlists, his Simpsons episode was taken out of circulation, and Yankovic announced that he would no longer perform his parodies of Jackson’s music at his concerts. “Eat It” (a riff on “Beat It”) and “Fat” (a take on “Bad”) figured prominently in Yankovic’s set list for years, and included special costumes — a Jackson-esque red jacket and a fat suit, respectively. “We just felt that with what’s happened recently with the HBO documentaries, we didn’t want anybody to feel uncomfortable,” Yankovic explained to Billboard. “There have been some people who have expressed disappointment, but we decided to err on the side of not offending people.”
Yankovic also publicly revealed to Rolling Stone in 2014 that he’s been a vegetarian since 1992 for “ethical, health, and socio-political reasons.” He’s actually more of a vegan, although he says sometimes he may “cheat and eat dairy.” Nothing weird about that.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit RAINN.org for additional resources.
Source: Read Full Article