Mandatory Puns | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Mandatory Puns

Weird Al drops his word crimes all over Bend

Robert Trachtenberg

Weird Al Yankovic introduced me to music. I heard "Yoda" before I ever heard The Kinks' "Lola" and "I Love Rocky Road" was a part of my consciousness long before Joan Jett and The Blackhearts' "I Love Rock and Roll." I doubt I'm alone—and perhaps his current surge of success is due to an emerging generation in our thirties that loved his music as teens.

From accordion lessons around his sixth birthday to sending in taped demos to the Dr. Demento radio show, Alfred Matthew "Weird Al" Yankovic has had music in his blood since he can remember and comedy was always intertwined with that. His first single, "Eat It," revolutionized the song parody and the 1980s saw him with a string of Billboard Top 100 hits and the release of his cult classic film

UHF—and he has had a decades-long run as a parodist that would make Samuel Clemens blush.

Yet it wasn't until the release of his 2014 album, Mandatory Fun, that he exploded even wider than ever before. He released eight music videos over the eight days prior to the release of the album and they went viral at an unprecedented level, and the album was the first comedy album in history to debut at #1 on the charts and set the record on Spotify for having the most tracks from one album be in the Top Ten. "Words Crimes" (arguably his best song yet) debuted at #1 and made him the only artist in history, aside from Michael Jackson and Madonna, to have had top 40 singles across each of the last four decades.

Soon, Weird Al comes to Bend and by God I got to talk to him. Check before the concert to read the entire interview.

Source Weekly: What came first for you, the love of polka or the love of comedy?

Weird Al: Comedy, I suppose, although I grew up playing accordion; in fact, I took my first lesson the day before my seventh birthday. And when you take accordion lessons they don't teach "Stairway To Heaven," they basically teach polka music because that was what accordion had always been associated with. So polka was kind of infused into my DNA pretty early. But I was kind of a weird kid and comedy was always there from the beginning, too, so it's hard to say which came first.

SW: Were you the class clown growing up?

WA: I always was kind of a weird kid but I don't think people looked at me as the class clown so much. I was more the nerd. I was the guy you would copy off of in math class and then beat up at recess. So I was more of a nerdy kid as opposed to the class clown. I was always cutting up and trying to make everybody laugh, but I think people thought, 'eh, something not quite right with Alfred.'

SW: Can you remember the first time that you heard a song on the radio and thought, 'I have a better spin on that'?

WA: I've been doing that since I was a young kid. In my accordion books, I remember I had a book called something like Hits of the Sixties with accordion music, and I would go through all the lyrics and change them around in the accordion book, and I don't remember what they were but I'm sure they were just really juvenile and stupid, But I remember I was doing it even at that early age and I first started sending tapes to Dr. Demento when I was maybe 13 years old, so that came pretty early on.

SW: How did you get involved with Epic Rap Battles of History?

WA: I met Peter [Shukoff] at a Youtube event, I forget what it was, probably two years ago or something, and we were just mutual fans, and we agreed, hey, we should work together sometime. And then the next year Peter pitched me on the idea of being Sir Isaac Newton for a rap battle with Bill Nye and I thought 'This is great!' And I did it just for grins, but as it turned out, it wound up coming out right before my album, so it wound up being sort of like the clarion call for my new album and being great publicity for me. You know, I was doing it just 'cause, you know, I like to do fun stuff and that seemed to fit the bill.

SW: Is that how you got involved in the Wet Hot American Summer prequel as well? Just doing fun stuff?

WA: Yeah, I mean, I was a big fan of the movie and I love David Wain and all the people involved in Wet Hot American Summer and, you know, amazing cast and it seemed like fun.

SW: (Spoiler alert) Where do you go from opening up your face and having Jon Hamm come out?

WA: Doesn't get much better than that, does it?

Weird Al Yankovic

6:30 pm, Friday, September 4

Les Schwab Amphitheater

$29 - $260

About The Author

Jared Rasic

Film critic and author of food, arts and culture stories for the Source Weekly since 2010.
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