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‘Weird Al’ Yankovic on Prince, parodies and ‘Mandatory Fun’

Weird Al Yankovic.
Weird Al Yankovic.

“Weird Al” is proof that being weird is timeless.

Since learning to play the accordion as a child and recording his first hit – a parody song of The Knack’s “My Sharona” called “My Bologna” – as a teenager, Alfred “Weird Al” Yankovic has become one of the biggest-selling comedy recording artists in history.

Now 56, Yankovic has 14 albums and more than 1,500 shows under his belt. His most recent album, “Mandatory Fun,” was his first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart and the first comedy set to top the chart since 1963, according to Billboard.

He performs at the Koger Center for the Arts on Wednesday, Sept. 7.

Yankovic has made his mark by capturing the core of a song and turning it into a newer, funnier hit, like “Eat It” for Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” and “White & Nerdy” for Chamillionaire’s “Ridin.’ ” He always asked artists’ permission before releasing a song, and most consider it a badge of honor to be selected for a “Weird Al” parody.

Because his shows cover a wide range of genres and styles, Yankovic’s concerts include a variety of costume and set changes.

Before you go to the Columbia show, check out this compilation of Yankovic quotes from various points in the singer’s illustrious career, on topics from parodies to the only artist to consistently turn him down to why he ends every show with “Yoda.”

Erin Shaw, eshaw@thestate.com

ON THE ART OF COMEDY MUSIC

“I like to glorify the mundane. That’s where so much of my humor comes from – taking the things most people take for granted and raising them to high art.”

The (Torrance, Calif.) Daily Breeze, 1985

“In the beginning I was considered a one-hit wonder; a couple years after that, a fad; and now just a mistake waiting to be corrected. It’s a bad rap, sure, but there’s nothing I can do about it. All I do is make the albums and hope someone other than my parents buys them.”

Dallas Morning News, 1988

“I can certainly listen to music without automatically changing the words around, but ever since I was a child, I’ve twisted lyrics to amuse my friends. It’s a phase I never grew out of.”

The (Bloomington, Ind.) Herald-Times, 2014

“It’s just instinctive. It’s the vibes I get from the music. I can tell when a song will make a good parody by the hooks and the beat. It’s definitely something that can only be described as, well, stupid.”

Miami Herald, 1985

“There’s nobody off limits. Everybody should just take a number. I’ll get to you all eventually.”

Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything), 2013

ON ARTIST REACTIONS

“A lot of artists have really been supportive over the years. Madonna herself suggested the idea for ‘Like A Surgeon.’ Mark Knopfler played his own guitar tracks on my Dire Straights parody. Nelly gave me the wardrobe that I wore on stage for my ‘Hot In Herre’ take-off. Kurt Cobain said that he didn’t realize he’d made it until he heard ‘Smells Like Nirvana.’ ... I think at this point a lot of artists consider it to be a bit of a status symbol – like, forget how many Grammys you’ve won – where’s your Weird Al parody?”

Rolling Stone, 2006

“It’s rare when an artist says, ‘No, you can’t do that song,’ Most people know that I do the parodies in good fun.’’

Wisconsin State Journal, 1996

“I don’t want to have fun at the artist’s expense. I want them to feel in on the joke.”

CBS, 2016

“For some people maybe I distorted their view of the original song. But, you know, I think, you know, I haven’t ruined anybody’s legacies.”

NPR, 2003

ON THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY

“I have some great ideas for some Prince parodies. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t have it. As you probably know, he’s not a real funny guy, doesn’t have much sense of humor. He wasn’t real hot on the idea.”

The (Torrance, Calif.) Daily Breeze, 1985

“He doesn’t ever say, “No, because ... It’s always just, ‘NO.’ 

Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2000

“It’s too bad. I hadn’t approached him in about 20 years because he always said no, but I had this fantasy that he’d come out with a new song, I’d have a great idea, he’d finally say yes and it would erase decades of weirdness between us. But that’s obviously not going to be the case.”

Entertainment Weekly, 2016

ON ‘YODA’

“It’s become kind of traditional. It’s an old-school hit. It’s something that I’ve almost literally done at every show I’ve done since 1980. It generally feels good at the end of the set. For one tour, we tried it in the middle of the show, and it just didn’t feel right. It feels like a show closer.”

Rolling Stone, 2016

If you go

“Weird Al” Yankovic

WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 7

WHERE: Koger Center for the Arts, 1051 Greene St.

COST: $34.50-$69.50

INFO: www.kogercenterforthearts.com

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