'Weird Al' Yankovic joins the Bullseye podcast to talk with host Jesse Thorn about his introduction to music and all things "Weird" on the eve of the release of his first official biopic, streaming November 4 on Roku.
"Weird Al" Yankovic -- undoubtedly the King of Parody, recording his own music and hilarious takes on Pop hits for over 40 years, resulting in millions of records sold and just as many hearts and funny bones touched -- has finally gotten the respect he deserves with a feature biopic, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, co-written by Al himself, debuting this Friday, November 4 on Roku.
Learning to play the accordion as a youngster, a choice his parents made for him over the guitar (very forward-thinking!), helped kick off his love for mixing comedy and music once the bite of Rock music arrived not long after. "I started playing along with the songs that I heard on the radio, or from my record collection," Al explains. "I kind of taught myself Rock N' Roll chord progressions, and it got to the point where I could play along with a lot of my favorite albums."
"When my friends heard me doing this, they thought it was hilarious," says Al. "I learned pretty early on there was humor to be gleaned from that juxtaposition. A lot of people just thought it was inherently funny playing Rock N' Roll on the accordion."
"When I was a teenager I played in some comedy club which no longer exists... I auditioned for 'The Gong Show' when I was in college and did not make the cut," Al says of his beginnings in showbiz. "Aside from playing my cousin's wedding when I was 8 years old, there weren't that many serious jobs for solo accordion players."
The moment Al realized his special brand of music was something he could do full-time, was when his single "Ricky," a parody of Toni Basil's "Mickey" hit the Billboard Hot 100 chart, causing him to immediately give notice at his day job. "I thought, 'maybe I should get serious about this 'Weird Al' thing. Maybe I actually have a shot at this.' I gave my notice and then I guess I was full-time 'Weird Al.'"
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story debuts this Friday, November 4 on Roku.
Listen to the full episode with 'Weird Al' -- now streaming on Audacy -- and follow along with Bullseye from NPR, your curated guide to culture, as Jesse Thorn hosts in-depth interviews with brilliant creators, culture picks from our favorite critics, and irreverent original comedy. Bullseye has been featured in Time, The New York Times, GQ, and McSweeney's, which called it "the kind of show people listen to in a more perfect world." (Formerly known as The Sound of Young America)
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