FEW WOULD HAVE GUESSED that “Weird Al” Yankovic – who as a shy, accordion-playing teenager got his start sending in homemade tapes to the Dr. Demento Radio Show– would go on to become a pop culture icon and the biggest-selling comedy recording artist of all time, with classic song and music video parodies such as“Eat It,” “Like a Surgeon,” “Smells Like Nirvana,” “Amish Paradise,” “White & Nerdy” and “Word Crimes.” Now in his fourth decade as America’s foremost song parodist, he has been the recipient of numerous awards, including five Grammys® (out of sixteen total nominations) and a string of Gold and Platinum albums.
In 2015 and 2016, Weird Al’s Mandatory World Tour encompassed 200 shows throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia, including two nights at the Hollywood Bowl and a sold-out gig at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. In the spring of 2018, Al performed 77 shows as part of his Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour, where he and his bandmates of over 35 years played set lists comprised almost entirely of his original (non-parody) material, and without any of their signature over-the-top theatrics (no costumes, props or video screens). And in 2019 Weird Al followed up his most bare-bones tour with his most extravagant tour ever – Strings Attached – where he and his band were backed for each of their 67 shows by female singers and a full symphony orchestra.
Weird Al’s 14th studio album, the Grammy® award-winning Mandatory Fun (2014), became the first comedy album in history to debut at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 chart, and the first to even reach the top of that chart since 1963. Yankovic set the U.S. record on Spotify for having the most tracks from one album in the viral top 10 at one time, taking the top four spots. In addition, “Word Crimes” debuted in the Billboard Top 40, making Al one of only four artists to have had Top 40 singles in each of the last four decades (the other three being Michael Jackson, Madonna and U2).
Al has remained active as a recording artist. June 2017 saw the release of Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (Dreamworks), for which Al co-wrote and performed the film’s theme song. In August 2017, Al wrote and performed “The North Korea Polka (Please Don’t Nuke Us)” for Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO). In November 2017 Legacy Recordings released Squeeze Box: The Complete Works of “Weird Al” Yankovic, a remastered 15-disc box set (including a rarities album) plus a 120-page book of archival photos, all housed in a replica of Weird Al’s trademark accordion. Al also recorded cover versions of the Squidbillies theme for Adult Swim and the Ramones’ “Beat on the Brat” for a Dr. Demento compilation album, and produced remixes of two hit singles for Portugal. The Man (“Feel It Still” and “Live in the Moment”). And March 2018 brought us “The Hamilton Polka,” a frantic tour de force mash-up of 14 songs from the Broadway smash, commissioned by Lin-Manuel Miranda himself and released as part of his “Hamildrops” series.
In addition to his cult-hit feature film UHF (1989), his late ‘90s CBS Saturday morning series The Weird Al Show and numerous AL-TV specials he has made for MTV and VH1 over the years, Yankovic has remained a staple of film and television, from appearances on The Simpsons, 30 Rock, The Goldbergs and How I Met Your Mother to performing live on the Primetime Emmy Awards and starring in his own concert specials for Disney, VH1 and Comedy Central. In 2015 Yankovic took over as co-host and bandleader for the fifth season of IFC’s Comedy Bang! Bang! Currently Al can be heard as the voice of the title character in Disney Channel’s animated series Milo Murphy’s Law (his other voice acting work includes appearances on Bojack Horseman, Gravity Falls, Adventure Time, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Wander Over Yonder, and the DC animated feature Batman vs. Robin).
Yankovic added “New York Times bestselling author” to his resumé in 2011 with the release of his children’s book, When I Grow Up (HarperCollins), followed two years later by My New Teacher and Me! An animated series based on his children’s books is currently being developed in partnership with the Jim Henson Company. 2012 saw the release of Weird Al: The Book (Abrams), an illustrated hardcover on Al’s life and career, and in 2015 Yankovic became not only MAD Magazine’s cover boy, but the first guest editor in their 63-year history.
In 2017 NECA Toys released the second in its line of retro-clothed Weird Al action figures, and in 2018 Funko released two of its own POP! vinyl figures.
On August 27, 2018, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce awarded “Weird Al” Yankovic with the 2,643rd star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.