ASK AL ARCHIVE
Welcome to the Ask Al Archive… all of the Ask Al’s ever asked and answered, both on weirdal.com and in The Midnight Star (an unofficial fanzine from 1993 through 1998.) Please keep in mind that some of the answers which were relevant at the time they were given will seem quite “dated” now and may possibly be inaccurate.
In lieu of a proper search engine (Hey, this is weirdal.com…not Amazon.com!) we invite you to use your browser’s “find” feature to search the Q&A’s for specific keywords for the topics you’re interested in. You could also read the entire Archive, in which case you get an A for effort! Or, you can select a specific month’s Q&A’s from the list below.
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Meg of Skokie, IL asks: Al, how appropriate or inappropriate is the tour material in terms of a 10-yr-old? It’s now made the top of the birthday list, and as a parent, while I’d love to see the tour, I need to know about kids…? Thank you very much!
I see every demographic in the audience at my live shows, from toddlers to geriatrics. And we do put on a “family-friendly” show… although that doesn’t mean it’s a squeaky-clean G-rated kiddie show. You should be aware there is some cartoon violence and a little bit of what some people might call “adult themes.” But there’s no harsh profanity, and nothing that I think you would find terribly offensive. As always, you should use your best judgment as a parent, but if your child wouldn’t be traumatized by, say, an issue of MAD Magazine or an episode of The Simpsons, I’m pretty sure he or she wouldn’t have any problems at all with my live show.
Susan M of Tallahassee, FL asks: How come the DualDisc doesn’t contain the video for “White & Nerdy”? It’s a fantastic disc, a fantastic song, and a fantastic video; I just don’t understand why there are lots of other (great) videos but not that one.
We weren’t able to finish that video until just a couple weeks before the scheduled release of the album. I would have included that video if I could have, but to do so would have meant delaying the release of “Straight Outta Lynwood” by a couple months, and obviously I wanted to get the album out as soon as possible (before the parodies got too dated). Of course, the video is available on iTunes (in fact, it was the #1 best-selling music video for a couple months!) and I’m hoping it will also be available on some kind of DVD compilation in the future. Actually, I can’t wait until HD-DVD or BluRay discs are more prevalent in the marketplace – most people have only seen the video in low res on MySpace or on You Tube, and as I’ve said before, we shot the thing in HD… it looks gorgeous!
Ally of Ohio asks: Hey Al, in your video for “Trapped In The Drive-Thru” why doesn’t the cartoon look like you???
Actually, when the animator Doug Bresler sent me his original animatic, the character in the video did in fact look a lot like me. But my note to him was that the video should not be too “cartoony” – it should be more or less an animated version of what the video would have looked like if we had shot it in live action. (And before you ask, no, it wasn’t ever in our budget to shoot an 11-minute live-action music video.) Anyway, if we were doing the video in live action, I would almost certainly be playing a character, not “Weird Al” – and therefore I instructed Doug to give the guy a more generic hairstyle. So if you don’t like that, blame me.
Mike of Phoenix, AZ asks: Al, can you list some of the actors with cameos in the “White & Nerdy” video? I think I got Donny Osmond…
Right – of course, that’s Donny Osmond dancing behind me (playing “Krayzie Bone” to My “Chamillionaire”)… Seth Green is the guy obsessed with action figures (he’s basically playing himself)… Judy Tenuta is the woman on the couch who graciously accepts my gift of a surge protector… the two gangstas in the car at the beginning of the video are Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele from MAD TV… and of course there are the 18 MySpace friends that I cast as extras.
Howard & Cindy Wilson of Hamilton, Ontario asks: On the back page of the CD insert, you mention Nickelback in the credits. Can we ask what inspiration they provided you with? P.S. We ourselves are not beer-swilling hockey nuts, but we do know several, eh.
Nickelback was nice enough to give their permission for me to use their song “Photograph” in the latest polka medley. I typically get clearances for the songs in the medley before I actually arrange it… and when I was putting “Polkarama!” together, I just couldn’t find a way to incorporate the Nickelback song into it where it didn’t sound wedged in or tacked on – so unfortunately I had to leave it off. You may notice that I also mentioned T Pain in the “special thanks” – similarly, he had given his blessing for me to do a parody of one of his songs. At the last minute, I decided against recording the song for the album, but if you come to one of my live shows this summer, you may hear a snippet of it somewhere in the medley…
Back to the Ask Al Index“Ask Al” Q&As for September 2, 2006
Cliff of Somewhere Around Detroit, Michigan asks: Al, you usually only have a couple of videos for each album. Why do six (although I appreciate the extra work that you, the band and the behind-the-scenes people do so fans like me can watch more amazing videos than ever) for Straight Outta Lynwood?
It all began a couple years ago, when my record label suggested that I consider doing a DualDisc release. At the time I thought it was a great idea, because I was all in favor of anything that would make the new album more of an event and provide more “bang for the buck” for the fans. I decided early on that I wanted to do 5.1 mixes and instrumental mixes of everything, as well as a documentary on the making of the album… but what really excited me was the possibility of doing a bunch of animated videos for the originals. I generally don’t have a lot of time to come up with videos when I’m dealing with parodies, but there are typically several months between the time I finish recording the originals and the time an album gets released, so even though I knew it would be a logistical nightmare, I figured I could pull it off… which would give the album tons of “added value” and hopefully give my originals a bit more attention than they usually receive from the general public. I also like the idea of just having a ton of videos for this album, since Poodle Hat didn’t really have anyvideos (unless you count “Bob”… which most people don’t). Anyway, since our budget for all these videos was very modest (to put it mildly), I wasn’t sure what kind of talent we’d be able to attract – but to my surprise and delight, some of the best animators in the world signed on to participate, just because they loved the music and wanted to be part of this project. I really didn’t give any of the animators very much in terms of direction – I wanted them all to have as much freedom as possible in visually interpreting my songs. As you probably know by now, the Academy-Award nominated animator Bill Plympton did the video for “Don’t Download This Song”… he’s a true icon in the world of animation, and he’s done several animated feature films (including “The Tune,” “I Married A Strange Person,” “Mutant Aliens” and the soon-to-be-released “Hair High”) as well as the latest Kanye West video. I was absolutely thrilled that John Kricfalusi agreed to do one of the videos – he’s a true genius and one of my all-time heros (many of you would know him as the creator of Ren & Stimpy). The folks from Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim show Robot Chicken did an amazing stop-motion animation piece (which will World Premiere on their show on September 24!) At this point, Thomas Lee is probably best known for animating “Star Wars Gangsta Rap” (which is one of those songs on the Internet that I’m often mistakenly given credit for)… but I have a feeling that pretty soon he’ll be more famous for his phenomenal Weird Al video – it’s really outstanding. David C. Lovelace did some terrific work as well – he’s best known for a flash-animated Internet series called “Retarded Animal Babies” (If you want to check out his other stuff online, be forewarned: it is very, very, very un-family-friendly!) And the great Jim Blashfield did a piece – you might remember some of the remarkable photo-collage-type videos he did in the ’80s (“And She Was” by Talking Heads, “Boy In The Bubble” by Paul Simon, “Leave Me Alone” by Michael Jackson, etc.) So we’ve got six very different and very exciting videos on the DualDisc. Plus there’s a big-budget live-action music video in the works which I’m directing, and we just found out that JibJab has agreed to put out an animated video for one of the parodies later this year. So that’s what, 8 videos on this album so far? Hope that’s enough for ya!
John Turnbull of Kona, Hawaii asks: Hey Al! So I’ve been wondering. Did you have an alternate album cover/title picked out before the entire issue arose with “You’re Pitiful”? Any chance you’ll ever show it to us (if you had taken it already)?
The album was always going to be called Straight Outta Lynwood and have some kind of gangsta imagery on it. I had decided on that even before I knew I was going to do a James Blunt parody, but I thought it actually would have worked very well with “You’re Pitiful.” I really liked the irony of having that kind of title and cover with such a toothless ballad for the lead parody… but as it turns out (with the upcoming Chamillionaire parody) the cover has become unintendedly appropriate. For the record, all of the photographs for the album were taken on April 22, 2006 by Michael Blackwell.
Maria of Wilmington, IL asks: Do the letters on the license plate on the cover of your new CD stand for anything?
The numbers and letters have several meanings – “NLY” are my daughter’s initials as well as my father’s initials. “27” is obviously my favorite number and an in-joke with my fans, but February 7 (2/7) was also my mother’s birthday.
Lizzi K of Chicago, IL asks: Hey Al, I was wondering whose dog that is on the cover of your new album? Is it a “dog model” or a stock photo/drawing or what?
Strangely enough, while the photographer was taking pictures of me in front of that 1967 Chevy Impala convertible, a young couple walked by with a pit bull. They said, “Hey, do you want to use our dog in the shot?” And we said, “Sure, why not?” I don’t remember the owner’s name, but the dog’s name was Dough Boy. Anyway, we wound up liking that particular shot so much that it wound up as the cover image. The picture that I originally intended to be the cover is now on the back of the CD case. There are a lot of great pictures in the package – the DualDisc comes with a 24- page full-color booklet!
Ed of Winter Garden, Florida asks: Hey Al! Love your work, but aren’t you slipping a bit? “Don’t Download This Song?” I mean, the whole downloading music from the Internet controversy is like 5 years old, man!
Yeah, you’re absolutely right. It’s a completely dead issue – people stopped illegally downloading songs off the Internet years ago, and the RIAA is no longer taking legal action against P2P sites or criminalizing people who share files. What was I thinking? Thanks for setting me straight. By the way, don’t forget to e-mail Neil Young and ask him why he’s still writing songs about Iraq on his new album. I mean, come on… that war is so 2003!
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for June 28, 2006
Noah Halford of San Rafael, CA asks: Hey Al! I was wondering (along with probably a bunch of other fans)… WHY won’t “You’re Pitiful” (which is a great and hilarious song, by the way) be on the next album?
Thanks for asking… That question is answered pretty well in a recent piece on NPR, so you may want to click .
Cliff C of Trabuco Canyon, CA asks: Okay Al, now that the CD is delayed, does that mean the tour won’t start until much later this year, or we will be waiting until next summer?
Back when we thought the album was coming out in June, we were fully intending to have a tour starting in August. Now, unfortunately, that’s not going to happen. The plan at this point is for us to tour next summer – no matter what. I suppose it’s possible that we’ll hit the road before then, but I’m sorry to say it’s pretty unlikely.
Sizzling Volleyball of Budd Lake, NJ asks: Hey Al, have kind of a complicated/tedious question for you: Over the years, I’ve wondered how your homages or songs “in the style of” come into being. Many are homages to “demented” bands (B-52s, Talking Heads, Devo, Oingo Boingo, TMBG, Zappa, etc.), but others are less so. Also, there are many that seem to be affiliated to no one particular band, but are genre parodies: unplugged, ska, hair band, etc. Are these bands that you listen to, and so are a sort of tribute? Or are they something else?
As you’ve obviously noticed, I have done quite a few “style parodies” over the years – that’s what I call songs that are original (as in, not direct parodies) and yet they are done in the style of another artist, group or genre of music. It’s an interesting exercise for me to try to get into the heads of these artists – or at least attempt to crudely forge their musical signatures. In fact, I enjoy doing these kinds of songs so much, I hardly ever do an “original” original any more. (I guess “Hardware Store” could be considered a true original – but truth be told, that was actually a screwed-up style parody. I started out trying to write in the style of a particular group, but I got it so wrong that I just gave up and did it my own way instead.) The artists that I’ve style-parodied range from the extremely popular (Bob Dylan, Nine Inch Nails, James Taylor, etc.) to the semi-obscure (Tonio K, The Rugburns, Hilly Michaels, etc.) – but they’re all favorites of mine, and my homages to them are always done with great affection and attention to detail. In the past, I never put the artists that I style-parodied in the Special Thanks section on my album, mostly because I wanted to see if fans could figure out what I was doing (without being given any obvious hints). But I’ve come to realize that’s a little unfair to those artists – to whom I certainly owe a huge debt of gratitude – so I plan to acknowledge all my musical influences in the CD liner notes in the future.
Yancy Gadzonski of Glendale, Wisconsin asks: How did you feel about Vince Vaughn’s reference to you in the uncut version of the recent hit comedy, “Wedding Crashers”?
I was very flattered, of course. I understand that Vince Vaughn completely ad libbed that scene, so it’s nice to know I’m there floating around in Vince’s subconscious mind.
Kevin of Lexington, Ohio asks: I thought I had heard a rumor about the upcoming album being your last one. Is there any truth to this?
Absolutely not. “Poodle Hat” was my last album. My upcoming album is my next one. I don’t know how these silly rumors get started.
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for April 27, 2006
Tracy A. of Hudson, Florida asks: Okay, Al. So what DID that huge “27” that flashed on the screen April 7th really mean? Everyone wants to know. Come on, spill your guts!
Oh, okay. Well, if you must know, the big “27” that appeared briefly on this web site was the beginning of a teaser campaign to announce that the new album was coming out on June 27. I’m very sorry to say that the album is not coming out on June 27 anymore, due to something which threw a major monkey wrench into our release plans. (Don’t worry, it’s just silly record company politics. Maybe I’ll tell you the story someday.) Anyway, we’re obviously trying to resolve the issue, and hoping to get the album out as soon as humanly possible. I’m bound and determined to get it out… well, sometime this year, for sure. I really think it’s a great album (although I may be just a little biased) and I sure hope everybody will think it’s been worth the wait.
Stephanie of Fullerton, CA asks: Why did the Permanent Record go out of print?
My box set didn’t go out of print due to lack of interest. The only reason it went out of print is… are you ready for this?… my record label lost the artwork. A few years ago, when all the assets of Scotti Bros. were being transferred over to Volcano, somehow the artwork to Permanent Record slipped between the cracks, and is ostensibly lost forever. (If you see it turn up on eBay, you WILL let me know, won’t you?) I realize that we could just scan existing booklets and CD art and crank out boxed sets with slightly inferior graphics, but that’s not how I roll, boyyy.
Erich Reinhardt of Hagersville, Ontario, Canada asks: On your “Ultimate Video Collection”, I noticed there is an Easter Egg containing archival footage of your performance of “My Bologna” shot in 1979. Was that a performance that was shown on a local cable show, or was it at a local entertainment club where they shoot all of their performances? And also, was the song for the performance pre-recorded, and then synched in to match your lips and accordion playing? What’s the story behind that?
That performance was done while I was a student at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo (although it was actually shot at nearby Cuesta College). My friend (and fellow KCPR DJ) Randy Kerdoon needed to shoot a live music performance for a school project that he was doing, and he asked me to lip sync to my then-new recording of “My Bologna.” He put me in a small studio on campus, turned on a couple cameras, and documented Young Al Yankovic doing what was arguably his first music video. It’s absolutely terrible, yet of earth-shatteringly profound historical significance.
Tim Sloane of Ijamsville, MD asks: Al, which of these purchasing methods should I use in order to make sure the most profit gets to you: Buying one of your albums on CD, or buying one of your albums on iTunes?
I am extremely grateful for your support, no matter which format you choose to legally obtain my music in, so you should do whatever makes the most sense for you personally. But since you ASKED… I actually do get significantly more money from CD sales, as opposed to downloads. This is the one thing about my renegotiated record contract that never made much sense to me. It costs the label NOTHING for somebody to download an album (no manufacturing costs, shipping, or really any overhead of any kind) and yet the artist (me) winds up making less from it. Go figure.
Bob Malaggese (rhymes with crazy) of Quakertown, PA asks: I saw the new pictures of you and Coolio. Does this mean that all is forgiven?
Well, it appears that 10 years after the initial brouhaha, Coolio has decided to let bygones be bygones. I was at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year signing autographs at the XM Radio booth, when somebody told me, “Hey, did you know Coolio is in the building?” A few minutes later it was “Hey, Coolio is in the area” and then “Hey, Coolio is coming over here to see you!” I admit I was a little nervous at the time, since I didn’t know if I should be expecting a handshake or a punch in the eye. As it turned out, Coolio couldn’t have been nicer – he just walked up to the table and started signing one of my pictures with his own name (see the picture in our Gallery). The cameras started going off like crazy. I don’t remember what we said to each other exactly, but it was all very friendly – and after a minute, he was gone. I turned to the next person in line and said, “Did that really just happen?” So to answer your question, I doubt I’ll be invited to Coolio’s next birthday party, but at least I can stop wearing that bulletproof vest to the mall.
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for November 15, 2005
Greg Osborne of Vista, CA asks: Hey, Al! So what was it like doing “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”?
I had a great time. Nothing like flying to Wells, Maine for a day! I never got to actually meet the family, but Ty, the designers and all the workers couldn’t have been nicer. (For those who didn’t see the episode, the gag was that the girl in the family apparently really loved polka dots, so Ty got “confused” and thought she loved polka – ergo my appearance in the show.) I hear some fans were upset that the girl didn’t seem too happy about me playing that polka for her, but that was the joke – if she had looked like she was enjoying it, it wouldn’t have been as funny. They shot a lot of footage – after I serenaded Amanda (actually I serenaded Ty’s video camera – the family didn’t see the footage until a week or so later) I went around the construction site with my accordion and annoyed the workers with polka music for about an hour. Of course, prime-time network TV reality shows being what they are, they only used a very small portion of what they shot. In fact, the song that I wrote for the show was cut down considerably. Here are the full lyrics:
Well, there’s a girl named Amanda who lives in Wells, Maine
She never has boys or shopping on her brain
There’s only one thing drivin’ her insane
All she cares about is polka
Rebecca, Doug and Tabitha too
‘Cause I brought my accordion
And soon I will be moving in with you
Because you don’t want 50 Cent here
Or that Matchbox Twenty guy
Oh no, you just want to polka
And so I’ll stay right here and polka polka polka polka polka till I die… hey!
How do you like your new polka room, Amandaaaaa?!
Matt Ceccato of Norcross, GA asks: Did you write your own copy for the material you presented in “I Love The 80s” or was it scripted by someone else?
When I have my own segment (like “Movies That Should Have Been In 3-D”) I am given a script, but I am allowed to re-write it as much as I want. Some bits I wind up using as is, some bits I tweak a little, and some bits I re-write completely. For the question and answer stuff, sometimes I get the questions in advance, sometimes not – but the answers always come from me.
Rachel C. of Lufkin, TX asks: I’m dying to know. Is that really you on myspace.com? If not, someone’s out there impersonating you!
I am not on myspace.com. Every now and then I hear about someone on the Internet claiming to be me – and yet, sadly, they are not. Here’s a good way to tell for sure – whenever I have any kind of presence on the Internet, it will be on weirdal.com, or be linked from weirdal.com. Otherwise, it’s highly unlikely that it’s really me.
Nathan Brody of Hamilton Square, New Jersey asks: When you sing songs, do you do the background vocals or the lead vocals first?
I almost always record the lead vocals first. The only exception that comes to mind is “It’s All About The Pentiums.” I had pitched Puff Daddy on the parody idea, and by the time I finally got his official approval, we were already in the final studio sessions for “Running With Scissors”! It was such a last minute addition to the album that I had no choice but to record all the instrument tracks and background vocals first, just to buy me some time to come up with the lyrics. We were mixing the last few songs on the album by the time I finished writing the lyrics to “Pentiums,” and I wound up recording the lead vocals just a couple days before the album had to be mastered. It’s a good thing I work well under pressure!
Garrett Fritzler of Denver, Colorado asks: First I want to say that I think the music you do is great, and even though I like the songs you make fun of, I love your versions even more. But my question is, do you write all the stuff on this website? I know you write the feedbacks to the questions, but what about everything else?
I write the Ask Als, the FAQ, the News and the updates on the splash page… Bermuda writes most of the “funny” captions in the Gallery, compiles the obsessive lists and selects the Fan Art. Pretty much everything else on the site is either written by him or me.
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for October 2, 2005
Gary Derrick of Mustang, Oklahoma asks: I was recently watching Late Night with Conan O’Brien and the tambourine player with that night’s musical guest (whom I can’t really remember at the moment) looked surprisingly like you… any idea who your evil twin is?
Well, first of all, it was Jay Leno, not Conan O’Brien… and FYI, the musical guest was Ben Folds… and the guy who looked surprisingly like me was… me. But you’re absolutely right, it WAS a tambourine. The story is, Ben and I have been friends for a while (I directed one of his music videos and we’ve performed on each other’s albums). I went to see Ben when he was in concert here in Los Angeles, and afterwards we were hanging out in his dressing room. At one point he said to me, “Hey, I’m doing the Tonight Show tomorrow – you should come on the show with me and just play tambourine!” And we both laughed at what a ridiculous idea that was. Then the next morning, he called me up and said, “I just woke up from this weird fever dream, and I think it was some kind of a sign… you HAVE to play tambourine on the show.” I was honored to accept his offer, of course, so I hopped in the car and headed down to the NBC studios, practicing the tambourine as I drove. I was surprised when I got to the stage… I thought they were going to have me tucked away somewhere behind the string section, but they had me standing right next to Ben’s piano. It was kind of surreal – my first appearance on the Tonight Show in 20 years, and there I was being a professional tambourine player! Well, needless to say, I had a blast, and I think the performance came off very well. And I’ll be happy to slap the tambourine again for Ben any time he wants.
Thomas Safayee of Hayward, California asks: What character do you do the voice of in “The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy”?
I did three episodes of “The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy,” each time playing a character called the Squid Hat. These episodes were all Harry Potter parodies, and my character was a take-off on the sorting hat at the Hogwarts School. Unfortunately, John Vernon (the wonderful actor who played Toadblatt in those episodes, as well as Dean Wormer in “Animal House”) passed away recently, so I have to assume they won’t be continuing that storyline.
Hannanh of St. Louis, MO asks: Why do you write dirty songs? Since I’ve heard a few (like “Bill Clinton Bimbo Number 5”) myself and a few of the kids at my school (like 183) are boycotting you and spreading the word fast. You disgust me!
As I’ve stated very clearly in the FAQ, there are a lot of crude and vulgar parodies floating around the peer-to-peer sites that have my name attached to them. They are NOT by me. All of my material is really pretty family friendly. Of course, you would KNOW this if you actually BOUGHT my CDs instead of trying to ILLEGALLY DOWNLOAD them off the Internet like the amoral-yet-self-righteous HOOLIGAN you obviously are! YOU disgust ME!! Ah, the delicious irony of it all…
Nolan Klinedinst of Reykjavik, Iceland asks: I’m looking to buy a midi accordion. What is the model that you play in concert?
Occasionally in concert I play a red Hohner midi accordion. It’s really a great instrument, but the technology is a little outdated now (the keys only send on/off midi messages – dynamics are not possible at all.)
Caro of Connecticut asks: Can u send me your music for free?
Yes, I certainly can. And yet, I shan’t.
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for September 6, 2004
Kristine Slipson of Mission Viejo, CA asks: I heard that you were attacked my an angry mob of moths… what exactly happened?
I was kind of surprised when the AP wire picked this up and it became a worldwide news story. (Gee, maybe I should get attacked by bugs more often!) What happened was, we were doing a concert at a state fair in DuQuoin, Ilinois when we basically found ourselves playing in the middle of a swarm of bugs. (They weren’t really moths, they were mayflies – which, for the record, are much, much more disgusting). They were all over my clothes, my accordion and my hair, but luckily they didn’t find their way into any of my orifices. When I rolled around on the floor at the end of the show, I found myself rolling over hundreds of mayflies. Yecch.
Judy of Independence, MO asks: Is it true that you were the Grand Marshall for the 17th Annual Elvis Parade in Kansas City, Missouri in August of 2004?
Yes, and it was by far the best Elvis parade that I’ve ever participated in. I was a little confused and disoriented when I found out that it was actually honoring Elvis Presley (and not Elvis Costello, as I had hoped)… but I had a great time anyway.
Michael Anino of Santa Rosa, CA asks: Did you get to meet Don Knotts for the Johnny Bravo cartoon or did you just do voices at different times? ‘Cause you and Don Knotts are both heroes of mine.
Thanks. Don is a hero of mine too, so I was disappointed to find out that he couldn’t make it to the studio that day (he wasn’t feeling well). I got to record my voice tracks along with Gary Owens, Tom Kenny and everybody else, though… and had a blast! Don Knotts apparently came in a couple weeks later to do his part.
Cliff Clinton of Trabuco Canyon, CA asks: Dear Al, is September 25 the end of the tour for a while?
That’s the plan. Anything can change, so don’t hold me to this, but I’m thinking that I won’t be going back on the road again until summer 2006.
Lee Martin of Austin, TX asks: What kind of morons do you have working for you? They gave the reviewer for the Austin TX paper the WORST possible seats (SRO) so now you have a bad review…..
Gee, I’m terribly sorry about that. Some reviewer actually had to STAND UP during a sold-out rock concert? That’s inexcusable. But I have to ask…What kind of morons do you have working at newspapers in Austin that would base an entire review of an artist’s performance on whether or not they had a good seat?
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for September 2, 2003
Randy of Albuquerque, NM asks: I have been trying to find the DVD called “‘Weird Al’ Yankovic: The Videos” and I understand it is out of print. Will it be available in the future?
The bad news is, yes, that particular item has in fact gone out of print and will most likely remain in that condition for the rest of eternity. The good news is, we’re currently putting the finishing touches on a brand-spanking-new and completely up-to-date DVD called “The Ultimate Collection.” It will have 24 of my music videos, plus a photo gallery, on-screen lyrics and 5.1 surround sound. And we’ve even “cleaned up” some of the older videos a little bit – they look great. Anyway, we’re trying to rush-release this for a September 22 street date in Australia. The North American release will most likely be sometime in November.
Amanda of Bend, OR asks: Hey Al, I was wondering why you say you don’t like to talk about political issues but in some interviews you talk about them anyway. Why?
Well, it’s true – I really don’t like talking about political issues in interviews. But when an interviewer asks me a direct question, I feel somewhat obligated to either give them a direct answer, or make a joke, or perhaps a little combination of both. Unfortunately, it’s normally considered pretty rude just to jump out of my chair and run screaming out of the room with my hands over my ears.
Greg Method of Cleveland, OH asks: I know you usually hate to change a song for a network broadcast performance. So, did you whittle down “Couch Potato” to two verses for the Nickelodeon Magazine special, or did Nickelodeon edit the song afterward? If it’s the latter, were you aware of it before it aired? I just ask because if you did perform the whole song, I’m wondering if you were able to mention the Playboy and Disney Channels, or if you used alternate lyrics.
Nickelodeon did have a few specifications: the song had to be 3 minutes long, and I wasn’t able to mention the Playboy Channel or the word “gay.” I decided to cut out the second verse and chorus of the song (which solved the first two problems) and instead of “gay,” I had the band yell “hey!” Normally I wouldn’t edit or censor my songs like that, but since we don’t have a video for “Couch Potato,” I’m a little more likely this time around to do whatever it takes to get it on the air.
Damien Pearse of Benalla, Victoria, Australia asks: Is there any chance of your TV show being aired on Australian cable TV now that you’re touring Australia?
I’m not exactly sure which TV show you’re referring to, but if you mean AL-TV, then you’re in luck! It appears that the latest AL-TV special will air in Australia on the Comedy Channel on October 5 at 3:00 PM.
Joshua Silvius of Chicago, IL asks: Why didn’t you choose to run for governor of California?
I just didn’t want to take any votes away from more qualified candidates, like Gallagher.
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for August 15, 2003
Jeff Nichols of Mattoon, IL asks: How long until you qualify for the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame?
Well, from what I understand, an artist or band becomes eligible 25 years after the release of their first record. “My Bologna” came out in 1979, so let’s see… I guess that means I’ll be eligible next year! I’m not going to hold my breath, though… I think my chances of ever making it into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame are about as good as Milli Vanilli’s.
Mark Souder of St. Petersburg, Florida asks: Do you think you will ever go against Coolio on Celebrity Boxing?
Is that show still on the air? Well, to answer your question, no, for three reasons… I don’t have a beef with Coolio, I don’t want to fight anybody, and I don’t have a pathological need to humiliate myself on TV. Believe it or not, the producers of that show did call me at one point – they wanted me to fight Chyna (the woman from the World Wrestling Federation.) I somehow didn’t see it as a positive career move to either beat up or (much more likely) get beat up by a woman on national TV, so naturally I passed. (I think Joey Buttafuoco finally wound up fighting her. Well, at least it’s nice to know I ranked higher on the producer’s list than Joey Buttafuoco!)
Trevor Haworth (Weird Albert) of Springfield, IL asks: Who were those other “Backstreet Boys” behind you at eBay [Live]?
Those were dancers hired specifically for the occasion. A choreographer worked with them to develop a dance routine to perform while they lip-synched the background vocals. I didn’t meet them or know exactly what they were going to do until I flew into Orlando that morning to do the show. They did a phenomenal job, and we all had a great time.
Chris Newsom of Springfield, Virginia asks: Did you voice your character on Celebrity Deathmatch?
No, I didn’t. I didn’t even know about the show (where I battle to the death with then-Vice President Al Gore) until shortly before it aired. I did think that whoever was doing my voice did a pretty impressive imitation, though!
Gina of Alto, MI asks: Will you ever release The Weird Al Show on DVD and make me the happiest woman on earth??
I don’t have time to do both. Figure out which one you want and get back to me.
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for August 7, 2003
Jake L. of Readington, NJ asks: When you recorded your lines for The Simpsons, were there any that got cut out of the episode?
Thankfully, my part wasn’t cut at all, which was lucky for me because I know a lot of really, really funny lines from that episode wound up on the cutting room floor. My band recorded the instrumental track for the “Jack and Diane” parody at Mad Dog Studios in Burbank, but I got to go to the 20th Century Fox lot to sing the song and read my lines in a studio sitting next to Dan (Homer Simpson) Castellaneta himself, which was a huge thrill for me. Originally I was only intended to be in the body of the show, but the recording session went so well, the writers thought it would be a great idea for me to sing an extended version of the parody over the closing credits (and of course, I did too)! So they came up with some additional lyrics and I went back to the Fox lot several weeks later to record that as well. Then, shortly before the show aired, I had to go back one more time to re-record the end of the song… I think the original ending went something like, “Oh yeah, we got time to fill / Why don’t you go pee before King Of The Hill?” The problem was, by the time the episode was scheduled to air, The Simpsons was being followed by Oliver Beane, not King Of The Hill – so they had me change it to the more generic “Oh yeah, Weird Al had fun on this show / Even if it was just a brief cameo.” Being on The Simpsons was definitely a high point in my life – big thanks to all the writers, producers and artists who helped make it happen!
Christopher P. “ClabberHeads” Sedtal of Groves Texas asks: How do you feel about the Comedy Grammy now re-including “musical comedy” as well as “spoken word comedy?”
Well, I’m thrilled, of course. For the last decade the Grammys have chosen to limit their nominees in the Comedy category to spoken word performances (ie: stand-up comedians), thereby effectively eliminating any chance of my getting nominated, going to the ceremonies and eating free food. But recently they have overturned their decision, and now the Comedy category will once again include both spoken-word and musical comedy… so cross your fingers for Poodle Hat next year!
Christian of New Hyde Park, New York asks: In the song “Party at the Leper Colony,” I heard something that sounded like a Hammond B3 organ. Was that a real one, or was it a synthesizer?
Normally we probably would have used a synthesizer, but it just so happened that there was an actual B3 organ lying around the Mad Dog Recording Studio, so we were able to get the actual authentic vintage sound.
Jeannie of Tokyo, Japan asks: Was “Wanna B Ur Lovr” intended to be a style parody of anyone specific? It totally sounds like Midnite Vultures-era Beck to me, but I was just wondering.
You’re right on the money. The Prince-like title throws a lot of people, but that song is actually intended to sound like me trying to sound like Beck trying to sound like Prince.
Glabber Dabber of ValleyJoe Killa, CA asks: Have you ever had frog legs?
No, they’ve always been human.
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for July 5, 2003
Bobbi Jordan of Boardman, OR asks: Will you identify for us the people on the cover of Poodle Hat?
Well, let’s see… the guy with the poodle on his head would be me. The very pregnant woman with the sunglasses is my wife Suzanne. The guy in the surgical scrubs is my friend Joel Miller. The woman in the foreground with her legs crossed is my first-cousin- once-removed Tammy (who also played Queen Amidala in my video for “The Saga Begins”). UH Jeff, the guy that screens my fan mail, is the guy wearing the NY Yankees cap way in the back. Steve Jay’s son Ian is the really tall blond bicycle messenger. Tracy Berna, one of the writers for the Weird Al Show, is the waitress with the beehive hair-do. The Boy Scout is Dylan Bostick, the oldest son of one of Suzanne’s oldest friends. Bermuda’s wife Leslie is in there too. Plus there’s my mother-in-law, my father-in-law, my electrician, a couple from my church, the owner of my favorite ice cream shop, my aunt’s boyfriend… I think we got maybe 2 or 3 people from the casting office, but the overwhelming majority were friends and family members that just wanted to come to the shoot.
Adam Shuler of Casa Grande, AZ asks: Hey Al! Why was your current Al-TV special only an hour long? Is that all VH-1 was willing to give you?
Let me first point out that it was pretty darn generous of VH1 to let me do a TV special that was “only” an hour long. Maybe some of you got spoiled by the AL-TV specials in the 80’s which were four hours long. In case you don’t remember, those specials aired exactly once – but with an hour-long show, it’s much easier to fit it into a programming block, so the new AL-TV special can be aired repeatedly (and it already has). The down side is that I was not able to do all the things that I normally do in an AL-TV, including AL-News and showcasing music videos from other artists that I like. I chose to concentrate on the celebrity interviews, because those seem to be everybody’s favorite part of AL-TV – plus I didn’t have a lot of spare time and I needed to focus on creating video material that I could also use in my live concerts.
Alison Cuomo-Nason of Keene, NH asks: Let me start by saying I’m a BIG Zappa fan and old enough to have seen him in concert many times during the late 60’s & through the 70’s. I absolutely LOVE “Genius in France”! You nailed it!! “GIF” is truly a masterpiece! (Thanks for doing it for ME!) Now to the question – I am curious if you are getting much criticism from the masses who have misinterpreted your intent and believe you wrote “GIF” in response to the war in Iraq? Great to see “Ask Al” back! (BTW- You ROCKED North Tonawanda! Looking forward to another 5 concerts this summer!
Thanks! Yes, let me now say for the record, I did not write “Genius In France” as any sort of political statement. I wrote the song long before the war in Iraq started, and it was never my intention to jump on any kind of “bashing the French” bandwagon. I was bashing the French before it was trendy.
Andrew Geanacopoulos of Ludlow, MA asks: Was it true that the hilarious radio talent Phil Hendrie did the narration for the UHF trailer?
Yes, Phil Hendrie (who now is a famous syndicated radio host) and I used to be peons working together at Westwood One in the early 80’s, and we shared a warped sense of humor. I thought it would be a good choice to use him as the authoritative voice on the UHF trailer.
Madeline Jarvis of Little Falls, MN asks: Is Ruben single?
Yes, thankfully there’s just one of him.
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for May, 2000
CMonkey2000 of Spatula City, Liechtenstein asks: Seriously, how do you rationalize being a vegan and playing a gig at the Great American Rib Cook-Off?
The same way I can rationalize playing at a college even though I’m not a student anymore.
Stanley Spudski of Phoenix, AZ asks: Hey Al. In the insert/lyrics page included with the “Running With Scissors” CD there is a picture of you and your band. Is there any special reason why your drummer, Jon “Bermuda” Schwartz, chose the number “9” to wear on his shirt?
I think it’s because of his being a Beatles fan (“Number nine…. Number nine…. Number nine…”)
Emily of Dayton, OH asks: Al, it states in “Behind the Music” that you skipped two grades during school. Which two were they?
Actually I only skipped one grade (I was pulled out of second grade and placed in third), but I also started kindergarten a year early.
Jeremy McCarthy of Fairfield, CT asks: Hey Al!!!!! What do u think about Napster? I just want to know if you approve.
I have very mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I’m concerned that the rampant downloading of my copyright-protected material over the Internet is severely eating into my album sales and having a decidedly adverse effect on my career. On the other hand, I can get all the Metallica songs I want for FREE! WOW!!!!!
Bill of Torrance, CA asks: Did you sing the following songs: “Toast,” “Baby Got Jack,” “Ugly Girl,” and “Livin’ La Vida Yoda.” I’m asking because people download these songs and the title would say “by Al Yankovic.”
No, no, no, and no. This is actually my biggest problem with all those mp3-download services. A large number of the songs which are attributed to me are NOT by me at all. Some of the songs supposedly by me are, in fact, rather profane, and it disturbs me that some people might be led to believe that I’m responsible for them. Check the discography on my web site if you’re ever in doubt as to whether something is really a Weird Al song or not.
Andie Forslund of Houston, TX asks: Hi Al! I just got a copy of “The Compleat Al” video off ebay, and I noticed the video for “This Is The Life” was different from the one on the DVD of all your videos. Why is that? Love ya!
Back when we were putting “The Compleat Al” together, for one reason or another we weren’t able to secure the rights to use clips from the movie “Johnny Dangerously” in “This Is The Life,” even though that video was made specifically to promote the movie. So old stock footage was used to replace those movie clips. Years later we finally managed to secure the rights to use the clips, and we were able to release the original version of the video with the movie scenes intact.
Autumn Wright of Albany, OR asks: Hey Al! I heard you got something in your eye during the MO concert on 4/26! I’m sorry! Are you all better now?
I’m just fine now, thanks for asking. During “Like A Surgeon” the stethoscope flew up into my face and cut my eyeball. Luckily it missed my cornea and I healed quickly.
Jonathan D. H. Parshall of Brevard, North Carolina asks: Now that Orion Pictures is defunct, who owns “UHF”? MGM? And do you have any stake in ownership?
I don’t have any ownership of the title – MGM has the rights to “UHF” at the moment. I’m hoping that they’ll put the DVD out one of these days, but they don’t seem to be in any hurry. (In the meantime, though, they’ve found the time to send me a cease-and-desist letter barring me from using any clips from “UHF” in my live show – which is why we had to change the concert films a few months ago.)
Will Dyess of Cincinnati, Ohio asks: How do you feel about the massive cuts (nearly 15 minutes are missing) made for the TV version of “UHF”?
I have no idea why Comedy Central butchers “UHF” so much when they air it. You’d think the network that made “South Park” famous wouldn’t have a problem with ANY of the content in MY movie!
Matt Driscoll of Fresno, CA asks: What was the name of the actor in UHF who went “You so stupid”?
That was the great Gedde Wattanabe, playing the part of Kuni the karate instructor. He also got to reprise that role in an episode of “The Weird Al Show.”
Weird Alice of twenty-sevenville asks: At the end of the “I Lost On Jeopardy” video, there was a guy in a car who turned and winked at the camera. Who was that person?
That was none other than Greg Kihn, who wrote and performed the original “Jeopardy” song.
HArold WAide of Dansville, NY asks: When you are in the studio, what order do you usually lay the tracks down on a given song?
Usually I record drums, bass and rhythm guitar all at once – then if we get a drum track that’s usable, we do fixes on the bass and guitar tracks. All other instrumental overdubs come next, and the vocals usually go on last.
Tim Montgomery of the same city/state Amber lives in asks: Greetings, Al! I just gotta know: when you record songs for an ALbum, do you already have the lyrics memorized or do you sing them while looking at the lyrics sheet?
I usually use a lyric sheet when I sing in the studio, both to help me remember the words and also to allow me to make notes and changes as I go along.
Tiffany “Pretty Fly for a Shicksa” Baxendell of Clairton, PA asks: Every time I hear “Albuquerque” I laugh out loud. How did you handle what all that screaming does to your voice while you’re recording an album?
“Albuquerque” is one of those songs that I would always save till the end of a session, because my voice would be too shot to sing anything else afterwards.
Kenneth Edwards of Waynesboro, VA asks: Did you ever meet Adam Sandler?
I’ve run into him a few times. The first time I met him we were both appearing on an episode of that old MTV game show “Remote Control.” From what I remember, he wasn’t making million a picture at the time.
Torso Girl of Sydney, Australia asks: Hey Al! Were you ever in the International Comedy Festival “Just For Laughs”? If so, what were you doing – I didn’t think you were a stand up comedian as well!
I didn’t really do stand up, but I did host one of the “Just For Laughs” gala events in 1990, and I played several songs with my band. We were featured on the live “Just For Laughs” Showtime special that year, and we were invited back several years later to play a couple more tunes for the Festival.
Mandy of Calabasas, CA asks: I went to one of your concerts out here and I heard you sing a song about pizza to the tune of “My Heart Will Go On.” What is the name of the song and if it is on one of your CD’s, which one is it on? Thanks.
The official name of the song is “Free Delivery.” This is a concert-only song, and it will not be on any future CD releases.
Rachel Merrick of Turnetr, ME asks: How many times did you have to try before you got your driver’s license?
I didn’t get my driver’s license until the third attempt. I’ve gotten a lot better at driving in the last 24 years, though.
Elysse of Orange County, CA asks: On the cover of “Running With Scissors,” are the two blurry runners in the background band members, or are they other runners who were on hand at the shoot? Thanks!
Those were, in fact, two band members. So never let it be said that I don’t feature the band on my album covers!
Crazy Chris of Florence, SC asks: My wife is hearing impaired and none of your music video tapes are closed-captioned. I want her to appreciate the lyrics also. Can you help me out? Thanks.
You might want to check out the new “‘Weird Al’ Yankovic – Live!” DVD – it has a closed-captioning function.
Tom Bagnall of Anaheim (grew up in South Gate, CA) asks: Settle a bet, please… my daughter and I LOVE your CD “Running With Scissors,” but we have a disagreement about the song “Germs.” She insists the words “microscopic bacteria” begins on the first beat of a 4 beat phrase. I know it starts on the second beat of 4. Can you settle this family feud???
It starts on the second beat. There. You’re smarter than your daughter. Feel superior now??
Adam Barager of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada asks: Hey Al! I just bought your “Running With Scissors” album and I was wondering, did you make the Read-me file for the movie clip yourself? I found it quite funny.
That was a collaboration between myself, Bermuda and a bunch of lawyer folk.
Eskimo Joe of Dalhart, TX asks: I would like to ask you a personal question. Are you flat-footed?
Not completely, but a bit more than average.
Linda Shah of Vienna, VA asks: Dear Al, since you’re a “This is Spinal Tap” fan I was wondering if you also enjoyed Christopher Guest’s & Eugene Levy’s “Waiting for Guffman”? (Did ya catch the Judy Tenuta t-shirt?) Thank you.
Yes, I liked “Guffman” a lot. I talked to Judy about it – she had no idea that Chris Guest was going to wear a T-shirt with her picture on it in the movie. She feels that she deserves an Academy Award for Best Performance by a T-Shirt.
Dot of Boise, Idaho asks: Do you have a waterbed? I hear they are bad for you.
I had a waterbed for a couple years in the ‘80’s, but it sprung a leak one day and I decided to get rid of it.
Joe Weatherford of Lexington, KY asks: How were you able to stay on key when you sang “Since You’ve Been Gone”?
I had Jim record a scratch guitar track first, and I sang all my vocals against it. Then when we were mixing, we just took the guitar out.
Kara Nadeau of Somerset, MA asks: What is the first thing you notice about a person?
Whether or not they’re on fire.
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for April, 2000
Adela of Chandrapore, Indiana asks: Hi Al! You’re the best 🙂 Anyhoo, I have some friends in CA who camped overnight outside the Shrine to watch the crazy red carpet parade at the 72nd Annual Oscars. They claim that they saw you there, but they couldn’t tell who you were with. Were you really there?
Yes, I got to go to the Oscars for the very first time this year. My friend Spike (from the Spike and Mike Animation Festival – three of his animated shorts were nominated) had a couple extra tickets, and he was nice enough to invite me. You may have seen me – I was the guy in the tuxedo WAY up in the second balcony.
Caroll Flanery of Redding, CA asks: Hi Al! I read in your introduction to “MAD About TV” that you used a piece from MAD magazine in statewide speech tournaments in high school. Since I also competed in speech tournaments in high school, I would like to know what was the highest placement you achieved and how many forensics points did you rack up?
I don’t know about forensics points, but I made it to the State Competition a couple times. One year I made it to the State finals with my Expository speech about all the garbage they put in hot dogs (and this was years before I turned vegetarian!)
David, the Al-Oholic of LaFayette, Georgia asks: Hey, Al! Why aren’t your CD’s available to buy from Columbia House?
Volcano doesn’t like to have their product available through places like that because they get a much lower royalty rate that way. Scotti Brothers had the same policy.
Brenda of Danvers, MA asks: Hey Al, why don’t you use a headset microphone on stage instead of the regular microphones?
I’m afraid people will confuse me with Garth Brooks.
Sherri Miller of Thornville, OH asks: What do you do when women throw undergarments at you while you are performing on stage?
Well, I save them, of course, but I always wash them before wearing them.
Alex Rose of Los Angeles, CA asks: Greetings, Al. In UHF, was U62 a set or is it an actual building somewhere?
The exterior was actually the building at the bottom of a radio transmitter tower somewhere in Tulsa, but the interior shots were done on a soundstage (in an abandoned Tulsa shopping mall).
Bjarke Lorentsen of Aarhus, Denmark asks: I have been listening quite a lot to “This Is The Life” on “Dare To Be Stupid,” and I was wondering what you call this music style? I think the track is absolutely fabulous, especially the spoon-intermission. =)
It’s just supposed to sound like the kind of music that was popular in the late ’20’s and early ’30’s. That’s the time frame of the movie that it was written for (“Johnny Dangerously”). I’ve pointed this out before, but it bears repeating: my song is NOT on the video release of the movie, but it’s under the opening credits if you happen to catch it on TV.
Weird Rob of Annandale, New Jersey asks: In school now I am a straight A student. What were your grades as a kid?
I got perfect straight A’s all through high school.
Sean Coates of Costa Mesa, CA asks: Why are all of your songs shorter? For example, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is about five minutes long and your version is about 3 1/2 minutes long. Why?
I like to tighten up my parody arrangements as much as possible without making the songs sound unnatural. I try to shorten or eliminate instrumental breaks, cut down the repetitive choruses, and also speed everything up just a hair. The general rule of thumb is, if it’s not funny, get rid of it.
Matt L. of Oregon asks: Hey Al, I saw “I Lost On Jeopardy” and there was a quick scene with Jim where he had a cigarette. Does Jim smoke?
No. But apparently his character in that video did.
Carole of Seattle, WA asks: Hi Al! As a self-described “control freak,” did you have any input regarding the editing of your live concert video?
Since I was on the road for most of the time that the live video was being edited, tapes and mixes had to be Fed-Exed to me at various hotels – and then I sent back my notes for changes. It’s a bit more laborious to work that way, but unfortunately I can’t be in two places at once.
Homely Bubert of Santa Rosa, CA asks: Hey, Al! A while back I heard your Billy Joel parody demo (“It’s Still Billy Joel To Me”) on the Dr. Demento Show, and was just wondering why it never got into one of your LPs. Never got the rights? Decided it was a bit harsh? Just curious.
I wrote that in 1980, but even by 1983 (when my first album came out) it felt a bit dated. Also, we figured that Billy wasn’t very likely to give us his blessing on that one anyway, so we never even bothered asking.
Linda Shah of Vienna, VA asks: Dear Al, in your song “Slime Creatures From Outer Space” there’s the line “They’ll zap you with their death ray eyes and blow you up real good” – Is the “blow you up real good” phrase from the SCTV sketch “Celebrity Farm Film Blow-up” hosted by Big Jim McBob and Billy Sol Hurok (Joe Flaherty and John Candy)? Thank you.
Yes, that was the intended reference. Here’s your gold star.
John Chadwick of Orlando, FL asks I recall back in the eighties when I first bought “Dare to Be Stupid” on vinyl (Vinyl is a thing we used to buy our music on, kids. We called them records.) I noticed that the phrase “Mores Songs About TV and Food” was etched into the inner groove area. Was this a reference to the Talking Heads album with a similar title?
Yes, that was the intended reference. Here’s a nice cookie.
Joshua Michael Stewart of Atlanta, Georgia asks: While watching your “Music Video Library” video, I noticed a scene at the beginning of You Don’t Love Me Anymore where Jon “Bermuda” Schwartz throws his drumsticks down and walks off. But on the DVD version, this scene ends the “Smells Like Nirvana” video. Where does it belong?
That bit is actually the beginning of the “You Don’t Love Me Anymore” video. The folks that mastered the DVD messed up the chapter stops.
Blair Freeman of Carbondale, IL asks: You mentioned in a recent newspaper article that you had to cut some lines out of “The Saga Begins” after it was already recorded because of bad information. What were the lines?
The changes were pretty minor. Like “He’s probably gonna marry her someday” was originally “I hear he’s gonna marry her someday” – because in the movie (according to my Internet rumor source) Anakin was supposed to tell the Queen that he was going to marry her (this was not in the final cut of the film). And I think I slightly changed the very beginning of the last verse for some reason. But overall, I was very, very pleased with how closely those Internet rumors corresponded with the storyline of the finished film.
Ali Sills of Petal, Mississippi asks: Hey Hey Al, I was wondering, why wasn’t Ruben interviewed for your “Behind the Music”??
The producers at VH1 were concerned about the potential sudden ratings drop.
Andrew Brace of Snover, Michigan asks: Who exactly is Eddie Vedder?
(sigh) I promised myself I was never going to answer this question, but believe it or not, hundreds of people have asked. So… Eddie Vedder is the lead singer of a little band called Pearl Jam. You remember, kids… they were really popular way back in the ’90’s…?
Sam (Eagle Boy) of Lowell, MA asks: Did you need permission from Jerry Springer to write the song “Jerry Springer”?
No – Jerry Springer is considered a public figure, so I have just as much right to do a song about him as I do to write a song about President Clinton or, uh… Eddie Vedder…
Fanny of Sebastian, CA asks: Dear Al, I notice you have six weeks off in your touring schedule. What do you do with your time off?
Try to have a life.
Jason Bach of Gresham, OR asks: Hey Al… I was channel surfing a while back and I came across this show. I don’t remember what it was called, but it had you in it. You were this weird green alien-thingy wearing a suit and your head looked like a giant cabbage… in fact, I think that may have been your name….”Cabbage Head” or something… What was that show?
That was an episode of Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories. That particular episode was directed by Tobe Hooper and featured Laraine Newman and the late, great Dick Shawn.
Sean of Vicksburg, MS asks: Do you cut your own grass when you’re at home?
There’s no grass in my yard.
Daelin Keller of Ukiah, CA asks: What is that German-sounding song byte in “Hooked on Polkas”???
That was the German version of Nena’s “99 Red Balloons” (both the English and German versions were radio hits in the mid-80’s).
Affy, your close personal friend of Lake Charles, LA asks: Dear Al, I saw your concert in Houston and noticed that you didn’t perform “Like A Surgeon” like you did on the “Weird Al” Yankovic Live! tape. Did you hurt yourself?
Actually, I did hurt my neck that day, and had to see a chiropractor in Houston. I figured I could get through most of the show okay, but I might wind up killing myself if I put my leg around my head (like I do in “Surgeon”). I’m feeling much better now, thanks. By the way, sometimes we have to pull that song from the set if the stage is too small to accommodate a riser (for me to writhe around on), and sometimes we’re forced to do a short show and we just have to cut out a few numbers.
Hillary Tutor of Great Falls, Montana asks: I was wondering why you wear a clown suit in the beginning of the Bedrock song. I don’t understand the correlation.
The harlequin suit that I wear at the beginning of that song is similar to the one that used to be worn on stage by Chili Peppers lead singer Anthony Kiedis.
Chris Charles of Searcy, AR asks: If I gave you my mailing address, would you send me an accordion autographed by you and all of the band members?
Coby Howard of Big Spring, Texas asks: What are the lyrics to “Albuquerque”?
Way back when I was just a little bitty boy living in a box under the stairs in the corner of the basement of the house half a block down the street from Jerry’s Bait Shop… you know the place… well anyway, back then life was going swell and everything was juuuuust peachy… except of course for the undeniable fact that every single morning… my mother would make me a big ol’ bowl of sauerkraut for breakfast… Arggggh! Big bowl of sauerkraut!! Every single morning!! It was driving me crazy! I said to my mom, I said, “Hey! Mom! What’s up with all the sauerkraut??” And my dear sweet mother, she just looked at me like a cow looks at an oncoming train, and she leaned right down next to me, and she said, “Unhhhh… It’s goooood for you!” And then she tied me to the wall and stuck a funnel in my mouth and force-fed me nothing but sauerkraut until I was twenty-six and a half years old. That’s when I swore that someday, someday I would get out of that basement and travel to a magical, far-away place where the sun is always shining and the air smells like warm root beer and the towels are oh-so-fluffy… where the shriners and the lepers play their ukuleles all day long and anyone on the street will gladly shave your back for a nickel. Wocka wocka doo doo yeah. Well, let me tell you, people, it wasn’t long at all before my dream came true, because the very next day a local radio station had this contest to see who could correctly guess the number of molecules in Leonard Nimoy’s butt. I was off by three, but I still won the grand prize… That’s right, a first-class one-way ticket… to Al…buquerque! Al…buquerque! Oh yeah… You know, I’d never been on a real airplane before, and I gotta tell you, it was really great… except that I had to sit between two large Albanian women with excruciatingly severe body odor, and the little kid in back of me kept throwing up the whole time, and the flight attendants ran out of Dr. Pepper and salted peanuts, and the in-flight movie was “Bio-Dome” with Pauly Shore, and three of the airplane engines burned out and we went into a tailspin and crashed into a hillside and the plane exploded in a giant fireball and everybody died… except for me… you know why? ‘Cause I had my tray table up… and my seat back in the full upright position, had my tray table up… and my seat back in the full upright position… had my tray table up… and my seat back in the full upright position… Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!! So I crawled from the twisted, burning wreckage… I crawled on my hands and knees for three full days… dragging along my big leather suitcase and my garment bag and my tenor saxophone and my twelve-pound bowling ball and my lucky, lucky autographed glow-in-the-dark snorkel. But finally I arrived at the world-famous Albuquerque Holiday Inn where the towels are oh-so-fluffy… and you can eat your soup right out of the ashtrays if you wanna. It’s okay, they’re clean! Well, I checked into my room and I turned down the AC and I turned on the Spectravision and I’m just about to eat that little chocolate mint on my pillow that I love so very, very much when suddenly there’s a knock on the door. Well, now who could that be? I say, “Who is it?” No answer. “Who is it?” There’s no answer. “Who is it??” They’re not sayin’ anything. So finally I go over and I open the door, and just as I suspected… it’s some big fat hermaphrodite with a Flock of Seagulls haircut and only one nostril. Ohhhh, man, I hate it when I’m right. So anyway, he bursts into my room and he grabs my lucky snorkel and I’m like, “Hey! You can’t have that! That snorkel’s been just like a snorkel to me!” And he’s like, “Tough!” And I’m like, “Give it!” And he’s like, “Make me!” And I’m like, “‘kay!” So I grabbed his leg and he grabbed my esophagus and I bit off his ear and he chewed off my eyebrows and I took out his appendix and he gave me a colonic irrigation. Yes indeed, you better believe it. And somehow in the middle of it all the phone got knocked off the hook and twenty seconds later, I heard a familiar voice, and you know what it said? I’ll tell you what it said. It said, “If you’d like to make a call, please hang up and try again. If you need help, hang up and then dial your operator… If you’d like to make a call, please hang up and try again. If you need help, hang up and then dial your operator…” in Al…buquerque! Al…buquerque! Well, to cut a long story short, he got away with my snorkel. But I made a solemn vow right then and there that I would not rest… I would not sleep for an instant… until the one-nostriled man was brought to justice. But first I decided to buy some donuts. So I got in my car and I drove over to the donut shop and I walked on up to the guy behind the counter and he says, “Yeah, whaddaya want?” I said, “You got any glazed donuts?” He said, “No, we’re outta glazed donuts.” I said, “Well, you got any jelly donuts?” He said, “No, we’re outta jelly donuts!” I said, “You got any Bavarian creme-filled donuts?” He said, “No, we’re outta Bavarian creme-filled donuts!” I said, “You got any cinnamon rolls?” He said, “No, we’re outta cinnamon rolls!” I said, “You got any apple fritters?” He said, “No, we’re outta apple fritters!” I said, “You got any bear claws?” He said, “Wait a minute, I’ll go check……………..No!! We’re outta bear claws!!” I said, “Well, in that case… in that case, what do you have?” He says, “All I got right now is this box of one dozen starving, crazed weasels.” I said, “Okay. I’ll take that.” So he hands me the box and I open up the lid and the weasels jump out and they immediately latch onto my face and start biting me all over. Arr arrrr arrrrh. Oh man, they were just going nuts. They were tearing me apart! You know, I think it was just about that time that a little ditty started going through my head. I believe it went a little something like this: “Arrrrrrgh!!! Get ’em off of me!!! Get ’em off me!!! Argggggh!!! Get ’em off!! Get ’em off!! Arrrrrrrrgh… Arggggggghh!!!” I ran out into the street with these flesh-eating weasels all over my face, waving my arms all around and just running, running, running like a constipated wiener dog. And as luck would have it, that’s exactly when I ran into the girl of my dreams. Her name was Zelda. She was a calligraphy enthusiast with a slight overbite and hair the color of strained peaches. I’ll never forget the very first thing she said to me. She said, “Hey. You’ve got weasels on your face.” That’s when I knew it was true love. We were inseparable after that. Aw, we ate together, we bathed together, we even shared the same piece of mint-flavored dental floss. Aw, the world was our burrito. So we got married and we bought us a house and had two beautiful children, Nathaniel and Superfly. Oh, we were so very, very, very happy. Oh yeah. But then one fateful night, Zelda said to me, she said, “Sweetie Pumpkin… do you want to join the Columbia record club?” I said, “Whoa! Hold on now, baby! I’m just not ready for that kind of a commitment!” So we broke up and I never saw her again. But that’s just the way things go… in Al…buquerque! Al…buquerque! Anyway, things really started looking up for me, because about a week later I finally achieved my life-long dream. That’s right, I got me a part-time job at the Sizzler. I even made Employee of the Month after I put out that grease fire with my face. Oh yeah, everybody was pretty jealous of me after that. I was gettin’ a lot of attitude. Okay, like one time, I was out in the parking lot trying to remove my excess ear wax with a golf pencil, when I see this guy Marty trying to carry a big ol’ sofa up the stairs all by himself. So I say to him, I say, “Hey! You want me to help you with that?” And Marty, he just rolls his eyes and goes, “Nooo, I want you to cut off my arms and legs with a chain saw.” So I did. And then he gets all indignant on me! He’s like, “Hey, man, I was just being sarcastic!” Well, that’s just great. How was I supposed to know that? I’m not a mind-reader, for crying out loud. Besides, now he’s got a really cute nickname – Torso Boy – so what’s hecomplaining about? Say, that reminds me of another amusing anecdote. This guy comes up to me on the street and he tells me he hasn’t had a bite in three days. Well, I knew what he meant, but just to be funny I took a big bite out of his jugular vein. And he’s yelling and screaming and bleeding all over, and I’m like, “Hey! Come on! Don’t you get it?” But he just keeps rolling around on the sidewalk, bleeding and screaming, “Ahhhhh!! Ahhhhh!! Ahhhhhh!!!” – y’know, completely missing the irony of the whole situation. Man, some people just can’t take a joke, y’know? Anyway, I uh… Um… where was I?…… I kinda lost my train of thought. Uh… Well, okay, anyway, I know it’s kind of a round-about way of saying it, but I guess the whole point I’m trying to make here is… I… HATE… SAUERKRAUT!! That’s all I’m really trying to say. And by the way, if one day you happen to wake up and find yourself in an existential quandary, full of loathing and self-doubt and wracked with the pain and isolation of your pitiful, meaningless existence, at least you can take a small bit of comfort in knowing that somewhere out there in this crazy ol’ mixed-up universe of ours, there’s still a little place… called Al…buquerque! Al…buquerque! Albuquerque! Albuquerque! Albuquerque! Albuquerque! I said, A! (A!) L! (L!) B! (B!) U! (U!) …querque!! (Querque!!) Albuquerque! (Querque!!) Albuquerque!(Querque!!) Albuquerque! (Querque!!) Albuquerque! (Querque!!) Albuquerque! (Querque!!) Albuquerque! (Querque!!) Albuquerque! (Querque!!) Albuquerque! (Albuquerque!) Al…… buquerque!
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for March, 2000
Linda Shah of Vienna, VA asks: Dear Al, from which institution’s film archives do you obtain the educational films that are used in your concerts & TV shows? Do you personally select each one to assure maximum wackiness? Thank you.
We’ve been using a New York-based stock footage house called Streamline, and they’ve got tons of great stuff. I personally screened a mind-numbing amount of footage in order to select just the right bits to use in my educational films. By the way, we’re planning to include the two newest educational films (seen on AL-TV 2K) as a little bonus on the upcoming “‘Weird Al’ Yankovic – Live!” DVD.
Snails of Rochester, NY asks: Who cooks for you guys when you are on tour?
We don’t travel with a chef – each venue that we play at provides us with a catered meal before the show.
David Ramussen of Kenyon, MN asks: In the movie “Naked Gun 2 1/2,” where were you in the movie?
I’m a little hard to recognize – I’m the crackhead holding O.J. Simpson at gunpoint and saying “Okay, pigs, say your prayers…” right before Leslie Nielsen walks in the room, slamming me in the face with the door.
Keith Kliebert of New Orleans, LA asks: Al, I hear that you really enjoy visiting New Orleans, especially during Mardi Gras. Why don’t you ever perform down here?
Good question. I believe New Orleans is the largest U.S. city we’ve never played. Unfortunately, as I’ve said before, I have virtually no control over where we do shows – it’s mostly based on interest from concert promoters and the availability of suitable venues.
Renee Weber of Lancaster, Calif. asks: Hi Al! I owe you an apology! How much of an annoyance is it to have audience members use flash photography during your concerts? I’d like to apologize for my flash going off a couple times while taking pictures of you at the Oxnard, CA concert. So sorry!
I can’t speak for the rest of the band, but flash photography doesn’t particularly bother me on stage. However, most theatres seem to have a strict policy against it.
Bob of Simi Valley, Calif. asks: My girlfriend lived in the Sequoia dorm at Cal Poly in 1977. What dorm did you live in?
I lived in Sierra Madre, tower 4, third floor.
Kara Nadeau of Somerset, MA asks: What exactly is a “coffee achiever”?
You’re referring to a line in “Dare To Be Stupid” where I say, “You can be a coffee achiever, you can sit around the house and watch ‘Leave It To Beaver.’” “Coffee achiever” was a reference to a commercial campaign from the mid-80’s designed to get people to drink more coffee. The commercials showed active, happy people drinking coffee while E.L.O. sang “Hold on tight to your dreams…” I believe the tagline was something oxymoronic like, “Coffee… it perks you up… and calms you down.” BTW, the “coffee achiever” in the DTBS video is played by my manager Jay Levey.
“Insane Emily” Menden of Manitowoc, WI asks: How in the world did you end up on the Movie Lounge?!?!
The host of the show, Kent Osborne, is the brother of the Academy-Award-nominated Mark Osborne, who co-directed my “Jurassic Park” video. They’re both currently working on their own low-budget independent film in which I made a small cameo.
Josh Boileau of Manitoba, Canada asks: In the song “I Want a New Duck,” is that the music for “Ghostbusters”? It sounds close to the same.
It’s actually a parody of “I Want A New Drug” by Huey Lewis and the News – but apparently Huey felt the same way you did. He sued Ray Parker Jr. (the writer of the “Ghostbusters” theme song) for copyright infringement.
Karla of Lindon, Utah asks: Why are you pictured in “MAD About TV” sitting in a coffin? Is there a story behind it?
That confused me a lot too when I first saw it. I figured it out when I saw the next issue of MAD magazine – the same illustration was used for a gag in which I had supposedly written a song called “Pretty Fly For A Dead Guy.” So I guess they were just recycling their art.
Lindsey of Saugerties, NY asks: What is the highest you’ve ever been on the Billboard charts, and for how long?
“Eat It” made it to #12 on the singles chart, and “Bad Hair Day” made it to #14 on the albums chart, both for one week.
Rachel Merrick of Turner, ME asks: When were your parents married?
August 14, 1949.
Dayna Sorrells of AL-buquerque, NM asks: In the video “Eat It,” a picture falls off the wall. Who or what was on that picture?
That was Dr. Demento, making one of his famous cameo appearances. (If memory serves, I believe the good Doctor was getting married the day we were shooting that scene!)
Jerry of Haymarket, VA asks: Al, my accordion teacher says that a 96-bass accordion is enough – what would you recommend?
Sure, a 96-bass accordion is enough… if you’re a WIMP! Real men only play 120-bass accordions!
Shannon-Queen of Saturn-Roae of Meadville, PA asks: Hey Al, how you doin’? I was just wondering, did you go to your senior prom?
No, I didn’t go to my senior prom, or my junior prom, or any high school dance, for that matter.
Jesamy Porter of Missouri asks: Did you get to pick your co-stars in your movie “UHF” or did someone else?
Jay Levey (my manager and the director of “UHF”) and I made all the final casting decisions together.
Caitie of Arvada, CO asks: In the “UHF” video when you are pretending to be Billy Idol, you say “UHF” and it looks like you’re blowing smoke out of your mouth. Did you really inhale smoke when you were shooting the video?
Although I’d never smoked in my life, I had to take a puff on a clove cigarette to achieve that effect.
David Guzman of Brooklyn, NY asks: In the questions for January 2000 on this site, someone asked about the glasses holding up your mask when doing “Fat” on the “‘Weird Al’ Yankovic-Live!” video, but why did you have glasses on when doing “Amish Paradise”?
I just thought it helped sell the “Amish look.”
Doug “Mr. Dougie” Kiel of Burlington, Wisconsin asks: Did you ever meet Donny and/or Marie prior to being on the show?
I’d met Donny once or twice previously – in fact, I believe there’s a picture of me in the “Permanent Record” booklet where Donny’s holding me up by my lapels.
Matt Chelko of State College, PA asks: First off, I’d like to say that you did an excellent concert here in State College, but I was wondering, on the “‘Weird Al’ Yankovic – Live!” video, why wasn’t the entire medley included?
The “concert only” songs in the medley were never cleared, and therefore could not be included in a product that was for sale to the public. The “between songs” films could not be included for a similar reason.
Scott Snyder of Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin asks: Was Harvey the Wonder Hamster a small guinea pig on one of your MTV specials years ago or was I just drunk?
Harvey was, in fact, feeling a little under the weather that day, so his pal Bob the guinea pig was nice enough to fill in for him at the last minute.
John “I wish my name were cooler” Colvin of Oregon, OH asks: Hey Al! I was just watching “UHF” and I was wondering how you did that stunt with Emo cutting off his thumb. So let us in on the secret.
It’s actually a very simple movie trick. Emo was heavily anesthetized when he cut his thumb off with a power saw, so he really didn’t feel a thing. And then as soon as the director yelled cut, the team of highly skilled micro-surgeons that we had standing by quickly attached it back on. Luckily, we only needed to do a couple takes.
Asher Doak of Marietta, OH asks: Hey Al, I was just wondering: You know how Jim usually sings harmony with you during the chorus part of your songs? Do any of the other guys ever harmonize with you? If so, how many?
Actually, on the albums I sing virtually all the harmonies myself. Of course, in concert that’s a little difficult to do, so as a rule Jim will sing the high harmony parts, Steve will sing the low harmony parts, and Bermuda and Ruben will sing only when absolutely necessary.
Robert Lares of Los Angeles, CA asks: Your liner notes say that Kim Bullard plays [keyboards] on “Headline News,” but in the video it’s Ruben in a wig. Why not Kim?
Well, Kim is a terrific keyboard player, sure, but let’s face it – Ruben just looks a lot better in a blonde wig.
Jimmy Imoehl of Eagle, Wisconsin asks: In the song “Mr. Frump In The Iron Lung,” were you using the air valve on your accordion to make the sound of Mr. Frump breathing?
You are correct, sir!
Al Nennig of New London, Wisconsin asks: I just bought your second album “‘Weird Al’ Yankovic In 3-D” and because it was reissued it doesn’t have any liner notes inside. So I’m confused on “King of Suede” as to whether the background singers are saying “Is my size on sale” or “Is my size avail(able).” I know, I know, I should have bought the album the day it came out but I kinda wasn’t born yet. Sorry. Thanks a lot.
That’s me and (producer) Rick Derringer singing, “Is my size up there…?”
Ludwig Von Ruiner of Ruination asks: If and when you have children, will they also be weird? For instance, would you name your son Weird Walter or your daughter Weird Wendy?
No, that would be kind of cruel, don’t you think? I mean, who in their right mind would name their kid Walter?
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for February, 2000
Karla of Lindon, Utah asks: Were you surprised about the “Achy Breaky” question on “Donny and Marie” and were they really good sports about it?
I had actually mentioned that song to the show’s producer during the pre-interview, and I knew they were going to ask me about it. I think they were mostly pretending to be upset – they’re professionals, and they realize that what I do is all in good fun. By the way, they had asked me to perform a song on the show, but only if I could cut it down to under three minutes. Being the uncompromising artiste that I am, I declined, since I didn’t want to hack any verses out of “Saga” or “Pentiums.” (I also recently turned down a chance to be on Regis & Kathie Lee for the exact same reason – only their stipulation was that the song had to be under TWO minutes!!)
teri2k of AL!buquerque,NM asks: Hi, Al, you’re terrific! I’ve heard a description of your room on the tour bus, and how you have the air vents taped over to keep out cigarette smoke. Do you have some other air intake, or way to keep fresh air in your room? Doesn’t it get stuffy?
The vents aren’t taped over to keep out cigarette smoke (smoking is strictly prohibited on the band bus) – they’re taped over to keep out the AC. I have to stay out of air conditioning and smoky rooms if I want to avoid losing my voice on the road. If my room ever gets stuffy, I can always open a window and let in some fresh air.
Annapolis Amy of Maryland asks: How many people ride on your tour bus?
There used to be a dozen or so people all on one bus – but since the tour started last year, we’ve been leasing two busses, so now the band rides on one bus and the crew rides on the other. Ironically, the crew bus has become the “party” bus, while us guys on the band bus mostly sit around working on our laptops.
Caroll Flanery of Redding, CA asks: How do you finance your music videos? Does the money come out of your own pocket, do you have a separate production company set up just for music videos, or is there some other way?
The record company pays for all expenses up front, but half of it is reimbursable through my royalties, so in essence, I pay for half the cost of my videos. There is a production company that deals with each video, and they are paid a separate fee (which is part of the video budget). I even get to pay myself to direct, although half of my paycheck is in essence coming from my back pocket.
Dr. D.R. of Solon OH asks: How do you feel about your appearance in the recent issue of MAD?
I’m thrilled whenever I get a mention in MAD. If you want to know more about my life-long love affair with MAD Magazine, you might want to check out the recently released softcover book “MAD ABOUT TV.” I wrote the foreword for it.
Kate Jones of Acton, MA asks: Al, none of my family members like your song The Night Santa Went Crazy just because it’s gross (No offense). Unfortunately, that’s one of my favorite songs. What should I do?
Well, obviously, you were adopted. Perhaps they haven’t broken the news to you yet. I’d just bring the subject up sometime over dinner, whenever there’s a lull in the conversation.
Tuck Davion of San Diego, CA asks: Hi Al! I just wanted to know, what is the difference between the Capitol Records version of “My Bologna” and the album release version?
The Capitol Records version is the original bathroom recording – the ONLY instrument is the accordion. The album release version was done in the studio and features the whole band. On the “Permanent Record” box set, the initial pressing went out with the incorrect version of “My Bologna,” which caused a great disturbance in the Force.
Tabitha Lynch of Fort Worth, TX asks: Do you collect things from each city you travel on, like shot glasses?
Lately I’ve started collecting souvenir squished pennies, and those pens that have things floating in them.
Mitch Rabb of Pevely, MO asks: I noticed during The Saga Begins music video that Rubén’s face is always partially covered with the hood of his robe. Why is this?
We didn’t want to frighten small children.
Marianne Rose of Erie, PA asks: Okay Al, I just gotta know! In the video for “Smells Like Nirvana,” did you actually make that over the shoulder basketball shot, or was it some amazing editing or special effects??
I threw the basketball up into a net which was just out of frame, and a crew guy hanging from the rafters dropped another basketball straight down into the hoop. Not that I COULDN’T have made the shot, mind you…
Doug Kiel “Mr. Dougie” of Burlington, Wisconsin asks: What was it like being on the Mancow show? Are you a fan of the show? The show is syndicated across about half the country and a lot of people heard you. Curious minds want to know 🙂
My record company was concerned about my being on the show because apparently he has a history of ripping people apart on the air – but Mancow was great to me. I’ve known him for years, and he’s actually a big fan… In fact, he credited me as being one of the reasons he decided to get into radio in the first place!
Kim of Houston, TX asks: In your song “I Want a New Duck” you say: “And show me how to get down. ‘How to get down,’ baby. Get it?” What exactly is the joke there? I just don’t get it. I feel very stupid that I don’t but maybe you can enlighten me!
Hmmm. You ever hear that old joke… “How do you get down off an elephant?” “You don’t get down off an elephant, you get down off a DUCK.” HA HA HA HA HA HA HA. See, duck feathers are called “down.” HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!
John Hall of Derry, NH asks: On Running With Scissors is “Your Horoscope For Today” a style parody of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones? Thanx, love your show!
There’s definitely a lot of Mighty Mighty Bosstones influence in that song, but I was also listening to a lot of Reel Big Fish and other contemporary ska bands while I was writing it, so I just like to think of Horoscope” as a generic 90’s third-wave ska tune.
Janet of Mesa, AZ asks: How can one talk to you on a more personal basis?
Oh, I don’t know, I suppose one could call me up on the phone or drop by my house for a little chat…
Gray of Staunton, Virginia asks: In the song “Moonlight Star” on “In 3-D,” what are the people saying when you start singing “I Wanna Know?” It sounds like “READ A CHICKEN.” Please HELP!!!!!!
Um, first of all it’s MIDNIGHT Star… and I believe the part you’re referring to is the part that goes: “You can read it, you can read it, you can read it, you can read it in the Midnight Star.” Although “read a chicken” is pretty good, too.
Gavin of Sydney, Australia asks: Did you use a real dental drill in “Cavity Search”? It sounded so much like the real thing that I was actually wincing!
I didn’t want to just take a dental drill sound off a sound effects record. I wanted to make the Ultimate Dentist Song, so I decided to do it as authentically as possible. I got my real dentist (Dr. Schuster) to come into the recording studio. He brought his actual dental drill with him as well as a real human tooth – and then he proceeded to wail away on it while the tape rolled. I even took a turn with the drill and the tooth myself. It was pretty sick.
Dan Butera of Under Weird Al’s tour bus asks: In “Cavity Search,” what kind of music is playing at the end accompanied by a high-pitched dental drill?
That’s supposed to sound like Muzak – the kind of music that’s generally played in dentists’ waiting rooms.
Chrissy Maher of Turner, ME asks: What were your SAT scores?
I don’t remember exactly – I’m pretty sure I scored in the 600’s for English and in the 700’s for Math.
Polka Man of who knows where asks: Hey, Al! I was just wondering who wrote “The Weird Al Show”? I didn’t see many episodes, but it seemed distinctly like you had graced the scripts. Did you get to write a lot of it, or were there other people who wrote it?
I was the head writer, but I also had a rotating staff of writers that I worked with, including Susan Amerikaner, Tracy Berna, Zeke Kamm, Steve Lookner, Mark O’Keefe and Ron Weiner.
glassesmiley of Lafayette, IN asks Dear Al, when did you get your first PC?
I think it was early 1992.
Christine Coulter of Carbondale, KS asks: Have you ever met the Backstreet Boys?
I met them when I was doing VH1’s “Fairway to Heaven” – I got to give them “golf tips.” We’re actually kind of on the same label – Volcano is distributed through Jive (the Backstreet Boys’ label).
Melissa of Northampton, MA asks: In “Pretty Fly For A Rabbi,” you give credit to two different women for singing in the song, but I can only hear one woman singing in it. I believe that’s Tress MacNeille. So when does Mary Kay Bergman sing in it?
Originally I had Mary Kay come in to sing the whole song. I basically wanted her to do the voice of Kyle’s mom from South Park. Her agent wouldn’t let her do it (thinking that it might get her in trouble with Comedy Central) – so Mary Kay wound up doing kind of a squeaky voice instead. Later, I decided that the “squeaky voice” thing really wasn’t what I was looking for, so I called in my old friend Tress to do her Fran Drescher impersonation instead. The part that you can still hear Mary Kay on is the line in the middle of the song where she does the very Gentile-sounding ”for a Rab-bi…” Mary Kay was an incredibly sweet, talented, funny, wonderful woman, and we all miss her very, very much.
Peter Mullins of Sydney, Australia asks: I know you’ve heard this question before (or a dozen similiar ones) but things have changed and I was wondering if there are any plans of you guys doing a tour however insignificant in Australia???
I’m very sorry to say this, but the much-anticipated Australian tour fell through. We’d been negotiating with an Australian promoter for a very long time, and in the end we just couldn’t make it happen. We’re extremely thankful for all the support we’ve gotten in Australia (and especially for the fans who have given us our first gold record outside of North America!) and we apologize for not being able to make the trip this time. We’d all LOVE to play there, so hopefully someday…
Lord Spank of Omaha, NE asks: Hi, Al. Today I heard Madonna’s cover of “American Pie.” How come she’s ripping your stuff off now?
I imagine she finally got tired of me making fun of her all these years. Oh well, I guess turnaround’s fair play. (I still think my version’s funnier, though.)
David Jeffreys of Royal Oak, Michigan asks: Were the people in your Disney special your real parents?
That’s what they tell me.
MaraJayde of Michigan asks: During “Like A Surgeon” while Rubén is doing his cone-bra thing, who’s playing the keyboard? In the live concert video there are close-ups of someone’s hands and I was just wondering whose they are.
That’s Jim playing the keyboard (he also plays keyboards in “Amish Paradise”). When we first started doing the “Truth or Dare” version of “Surgeon,” Jim wore the cone bra and Rubén played keyboards – but Jim felt uncomfortable doing it, and obviously it was a role that Rubén was BORN to play – so they just switched parts.
Lucy “Nifty Little Doodah” Horton of New Canaan, CT asks: Hey Al!!! I LOVE you!! Anyways, I was just wondering, was there a specific reason why you chose to write the song “My Baby’s in Love With Eddie Vedder” about Eddie Vedder?
Well, with a title like that, it would have been pretty stupid if I wrote the song about somebody else, wouldn’t it?
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for January, 2000
Harold Waide of Dansville, NY asks: Hey Al… Since the world didn’t come crashing down, I’m sure fans are interested in knowing what you did for New Year’s Eve… Did you hide in a bomb shelter? Hide in your house and watch all the fun on TV? WHAT???
I went to a couple parties and had a great time.
Jack Ayer of Newnan Georgia asks: Al, in your December ’99 questions someone named Fred Durst from L.A. California submitted a question. Was this THE Fred Durst, lead singer of Limp Bizkit?
I can’t say for sure, but I highly doubt it. Actually, I DID meet Fred at one of the New Years Eve parties I went to. He was really nice, and said he was a fan. In fact, he started telling me what parodies I should do for “Nookie”! (I refrained from telling him that I write my own material, thank you!)
Patrick Baker of Ann Arbor/MI asks: On “The Saga Begins” video, the desert looks slightly choppy on the beginning. Is it computer generated or filmed on location at some desert?
That scene was really shot in the desert. The reason the beginning looks a little “choppy” is because I chose to speed up that first shot when we were doing the final editing on the video – and when the speed change is implemented in the editing stage (as opposed to while you’re actually shooting), the footage sometimes doesn’t wind up looking quite as smooth. I still thought it was preferable to having a pan of the desert that was just way too slow.
Alicia Slater of Ionia MI asks: On “I Lost On Jeopardy,” how did your head spin?
I believe it was clockwise.
Daniel of Brisbane/Queensland asks: How come there is only a Special Edition film clip of “Pretty Fly For A Rabbi” In Australia?? It seems like because it’s not released in America that you can’t be bothered making one??
Let me explain for the non-Australians: My Australian record company decided to release “Rabbi” as a single there, even though it was not a single in North America, and they insisted on releasing a video to go along with it. I didn’t have the time (or the inclination to spend a big pile of money) to do a video for the song, but I told them that if they absolutely had to have a video for it, they could make one themselves by cutting together bits from “W.A.Y. Live!” Which is what they did.
Adam Shuler of Casa Grande, AZ asks: In the catalogue section of the site, where it lists your albums and such, I saw The TV Album. I just bought one of those the other day, but mine is called The MuchMusic TV Album. I know these are the same songs, but what is the difference between the 2?
Just the title. I’m not sure how you got a copy of the MuchMusic version in Arizona – it was meant for Canadian release only. We let MuchMusic put their name on the album as part of a promotional deal we had with them at the time.
Jessie Niessink of Redding, California asks: On your AL-TV 2K thingy, when you were doing the Al News, you were showing a bunch of movies that never made it. You showed a clip of the one where that guy can tap into some one else’s body and stuff. Who acted out the guy that was reading the magazine and clipping his toenails?
In the clip for “Being Corey Feldman,” that was me playing Corey. The show’s producer, Craig Armstrong, was hovering over me holding a digital camcorder (that’s also him doing the voice-over).
Sean “It’s Not Art” Peterson of Castro Valley, CA asks: What type of changes can we expect in the change from Touring With Scissors ’99 and Touring with Scissors 2K?
Chances are, we’re going to change a couple of the video clips – maybe add a bit or two from the latest AL-TV. We may even possibly throw in a different original song instead of “Eddie Vedder” every now and then – we’re still talking about that. And there will most likely be a few other subtle little changes here and there, but for the most part, it will be the same show.
Dylan Roche of Severna Park, Maryland asks: In your song, “Phony Calls”, is the ‘my crotch’ phone call a real clip from the Simpsons?
Yes, that was taken directly from an episode of the Simpsons – I think it was called “Blood Feud.” It was a pretty sweet deal for the Simpsons’ voice actors – they each got a nice pile of money, and they didn’t even have to come to the studio!
Luke Owen of Woking, Surrey, England asks: Hi there, Al. I was recently listening to “Running With Scissors,” and was wondering… the woman who says “It’s all about the Pentiums, baby” at the beginning of that song…… well, no woman is listed in the credits as saying it… so is it……. nah, it couldn’t possible be. Could it?
No, it’s not Celine Dion. Actually, the woman who did that part asked that she not be given a credit, because she was being paid “under the table.” Shhh.
Maroon Moron of Boise Idaho asks: How did you come about to direct [a video for] for The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion? Are you a big fan like myself, or did you come to know the band in some other way?
I was being interviewed for Grand Royal magazine by Mike D from the Beastie Boys and Russell Simins from the Blues Explosion. We started talking about how I wanted to branch out into directing videos for other artists, and then Russell mentioned that Jon Spencer was looking for a director for their next video… and things just kind of progressed from there. I had been familiar with some of their music, but after working with them and seeing them play live, I became a real fan.
Keith Steelman of Harriman/Tennessee asks: Al, My Question if you think Andy Kaufman is a comical genius or do U hate him????????
Are those my only two choices? Gee, then I guess I’ll have to pick the “genius” one. I’ve always liked Andy. I even met him once very briefly in 1982 – he came backstage after one of Dr. Demento’s all-star Evenings of Dementia.
Veronica of Los Angeles, CA asks: Hey Al, I noticed that in Weird Al Live the song “Jerry Springer” goes slower than it does in the record and it starts with music instead of you saying, “It’s been….”. Why?
We play it just a hair slower live because, well, it’s a tough song to sing that fast! And the musical intro is there mainly to help me sing the beginning of the song in the right key and at the right tempo.
Samantha of Leesburg, VA asks: What did Jerry Springer think about your song of his show?
From all reports, he wasn’t that thrilled. At one point we were considering doing a video for that song, and we inquired if Jerry would be in it. We sent him a rough mix of the song while we were still in the studio finishing up the album. Before he had heard the song, he seemed excited about the prospect of being in a Weird Al video, but after hearing the lyrics, he balked, saying that the song was just too “negative” towards the show, and that he didn’t want to associate himself with it. Oh well.
Julie Shilling of Verona, NJ asks: Hey, Al! I was just wondering… I know that you get permission to do a parody of someone’s song, but what if you want to do a parody of a song by someone who died, let’s just say Elvis Presley, and you can’t get permission because he’s not alive, then what do you do? Do you just ask someone else? Skip the song? Just wondering.
If an artist is no longer living, I get permission from that artist’s estate (which usually means the closest living relative).
Andy “Who Took My Boxer Shorts” Sikora of Taos NM asks: How come you didn’t use as many sight gags in “The Saga Begins” video as in others?
It was a matter of practicality and budget. I had to come up with a video concept that could be done as cheaply as possible because A) the song was over 5 ½ minutes long, B) I knew that whatever costumes and effects we used would eat up a big chunk of the budget to begin with, and C) I figured no matter what I did, MTV wouldn’t play the video very much anyway, for the same reason they didn’t really play “Jurassic Park” (not “contemporary” enough for them). So I came up with the idea of Star Wars Unplugged – and even though it’s not gag-a-second comedy, I thought it was an appropriate and effective treatment for the song.
Katie Winters of Harlingen, TX asks: Al, what year did you become a vegetarian?
Greg “Kill The Grand Poohbah!” Sepelak of Cary, NC asks: So I’m watching the VH1 “Behind the Music” episode about you, and they discuss UHF. They really made it sound like after that you were ready to dive headlong into a stump grinder. So exactly how big of an exaggeration is this? I know that box-office-wise it was limping, but I also know that show loves dirt…
Hey, I was disappointed, sure, but I didn’t go into some huge spiraling depression. BTM loves to play up the drama, and since there’s so little in my life… well, they had to find SOME place to play that sappy violin music, didn’t they?
Kate of somewhere in OR asks: What was your worst subject in middle school?
Physical Education, no doubt. Just out of curiosity, did anybody in history ever NOT have a sadistic Junior High School P.E. coach?
Cindy Greenfield (Cyn) of Idaho Falls, Idaho asks: After cracking up for the millionth time over Ruben’s antics during “Like a Surgeon”, I was just wondering, has anything so funny happened during a concert, that you just started laughing? Or, is everything so well rehearsed that you can keep a straight face?
I admit, Ruben cracked me up a couple times during “Surgeon” on this tour. I just try not to look at him anymore.
Linda Shah of Vienna, VA asks: Dear Al, How did your parents meet? Thank you.
They met while they were both working at a place called Firestone Tire and Rubber. My dad was very close friends with my mom’s dad Alfred (I was named after him). Alfred introduced them, and luckily for me, they hit it off.
Gayle of NY, NY asks: Do you ever have sign language interpreters at your shows? (or would you like to?… grin)
We have had interpreters at a few of our shows – Cal Expo in Sacramento and the Orange County Fair come to mind. However, the fairs provide the interpreters, not us. (It’s a real hoot to watch them try to follow along during the Yoda chant!)
Amy of Modesto, CA asks: Hi, Al!! I really like your song “Mr. Popeil,” and I was wondering if you meant it to be a style parody of the “B52’s.” I’ve been wondering this for a long time, so please, PLEASE answer me!! Thanks!!
Yes, “Mr. Popeil” is meant to sound like the B52’s. A lot of my originals are intentionally derivative of other groups (although not enough to infringe on their copyright!) Some other very obvious style parodies would be “Dare To Be Stupid” (DEVO), “Dog Eat Dog” (Talking Heads), “You Make Me” (Oingo Boingo), “Everything You Know Is Wrong” (They Might Be Giants) and “Germs” (Nine Inch Nails).
Adam Speigel of Santa Rosa, CA asks: Does it make you sore that “The Saga Begins” didn’t make it to #1 on Dr. Demento’s Funny 25 this year?
Somehow, I’ll just have to find the strength to go on with my life. (I see that I had 6 of my songs on the year-end Funny 25, though – that’s pretty cool, huh?)
Rachel Manis of Roscoe/IL asks: Dear Weird Al: You said that for the music video “Fat” (Parody of Jackson’s “Bad”) it took you 3 1/2 hours each morning to put on the make-up and costume. How in the world did you pull that off when you dressed up like that for your concert? (PS: Rock on, Al!)
The special effects makeup that I use for concert situations can be applied in a matter of minutes and looks pretty darn good from about ten feet away – but unfortunately, it really doesn’t look all that great up close. Doing the effect the “right” way requires a substantial amount of time in the makeup chair.
Kari Dilley of Ann Arbor/Michigan asks: I know you had laser surgery on your eyes, and you don’t wear glasses anymore. So, why do you wear glasses with the Fat costume at your concerts? Are the glasses connected to the Fat mask/make-up?
That’s exactly right. The glasses help to hold up the Fat mask, so I need to keep wearing them for that song. (The lenses were changed to clear plastic.)
“Weird Jack” Truax of Tualtin, OR asks: The live video Rocks!!!! Will you ever make a live album?
Here’s a little secret – I’ve already released a live album! In fact, it’s secretly encoded in every single copy of the “‘Weird Al’ Yankovic – Live!” video. All you have to do to access it is to put the video in your VCR, press “Play,” and then turn your head away from the TV so that you can’t see the screen. Voila! Live album!
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for December, 1999
Lisa Shock of Sunny Phoenix, Arizona asks: How did your family react to your decision to become a vegetarian? I’m a vegetarian too (since college), and my parents really disapproved at first. They’ve gotten used to it (20 years later), but I don’t think they’re happy. Just wondering how it’s going for you…
When my mom first found out, she reacted as if I’d joined some kind of Satanic cult, but I think she’s okay with it now. She always makes a nice vegetarian meal for me when I come to visit.
Miguel Cruz of Saginaw, TX asks: Are there times when you start a parody thinking it’ll be very funny but end up dropping it when you find there’s not enough ideas?
That’s never really happened with me. I can usually sense if an idea is strong enough to warrant doing a song based on it – and every time I’ve started a song, I’ve been able to finish it to my satisfaction.
Jason Geen Sales MCIVVXIIVof St. Helen, MI asks: What’s the most expensive and least expensive videos you’ve done?
The least expensive was “Ricky,” and the most expensive was probably “It’s All About The Pentiums.”
Vicki of Phoenix, Arizona asks: Where did u film the desert scene in “The Saga Begins” music video?
That was done somewhere out in the middle of the Mojave desert in California.
Tim Burrow of Oskaloosa, Iowa asks: [In the picture in the booklet for Running With Scissors], how’d they get scissors in Ruben’s back?
We just had to wait until he wasn’t looking.
Luke Owen of West Byfleet, Surrey, England asks: Have you ever met Tom Lehrer?
We’ve never met face to face, but I’ve been fortunate enough to speak on the phone with him, and we’ve exchanged a letter or two.
Christine Kossol of Monessen, PA asks: I just got the Polka Party CD, and of course there are no liner notes (I know, I should have bought it years ago!) Anyway, could you please tell me if the song “Please Don’t Wear Those Shoes” is an actual parody or style parody of a particular song/group? I really like it, and the sound seems very familiar but I just can’t place it. Thanks!
“Don’t Wear Those Shoes”, as far as I can recall, was not intended to sound like anybody else, although the intro is kind of a ripoff from an old Kinks song.
Karla of Lindon, Utah asks: Growing up I was a huge fan of the Monkees (just like I am for YOU!!!) What was it like working with them? I’ve seen specials on them and they seem to be a little bitter and it sounds like they argued a lot.
I liked the Monkees very much – it was a fun tour. Mickey, Davy and Peter are all terrific people individually, but I did notice that they didn’t seem to get along all that great when they weren’t on stage. There was even a separate tour bus for each Monkee!
Katie Morgan of Columbia, MO asks: What is “cycle four” [as mentioned in the song “Happy Birthday”]?
It’s a kind of dog food (for older dogs, as I recall).
Kevin of Indy asks: Why isn’t “Patterns” on any of your CDs, or is it and I just haven’t found it yet?
“Patterns” was just something that I did for the Children’s Television Workshop. I didn’t write it, I didn’t produce it, and it’s geared towards very young children, so I didn’t think it belonged on any of my albums.
Bob Slye of Los Altos, CA asks: Hey, I finally rented Spy Hard and I loved it. Your theme song is awesome. I noticed that the lyrics in the ending credits are a little modified to fit the end of the movie. I also know that the song is on the Gump single, but is there a way for me to acquire the track with the ending credits somehow?
Since only a couple words were changed, we didn’t feel the need to release the ending as a separate bonus track. If you really want a recording of it, I guess you’ll have to tape it off the movie.
Sean “It’s Not Art” Peterson of Castro Valley, CA asks: I’ve noticed this tour that you’re not using the classic red heart boxers, but rather a more Hawaiian print. What’s the new print and what’s the reason for the change?!
I just thought Hawaiian silk boxers would be a nice change of pace. Plus, they feel better and take up less room in my pants.
Armando of San Juan, PR asks: Happy Birthday, dude. Did you throw a party for your birthday and if you did, who attended it??? And where was it?
It was on stage in Ottawa, Ontario, and thousands of people showed up! Wish you could’ve been there.
Neil Harrington of Ottawa Ont Canada asks: Tell the truth, did you know that you where going to get pie’d after your concert in Ottawa?? It appeared that at least the crew knew about it, but did you? PS. Loved your concert.
I knew they were up to something, but I didn’t know exactly what. Then when they presented me with the birthday cake (from stage left), I thought that was it… not knowing that my tour manager was sneaking in from stage right with the deadly cream pie.
Gina in Greenbelt, MD, asks: In “Jerry Springer” under the line “he put the sin in syndication”, you sing something in the background. What is it you are saying?
I believe it’s “brain cells gone, brain cells gone…”
Andrew “Hi Al” Hetterscheidt of Bright Lights, Nevada asks: In your “All About The Pentiums” music video, there is something on your sunglasses…..is that a glare from the light, or was that something on it? You’re the greatest!!!
Those are the reflection of Kino lights, which are used for lighting close-ups in quite a number of rap videos.
Shannon Leonard of the magical land called Jersey City, NJ asks: Hey, Al! I have spent many days and nights since AL-TV aired on MTV wondering…did Harvey the hamster survive that slam into the wall ???
Of course. I should have pointed it out on the show, I guess, but I was just assuming that most people know that Harvey IS a professionally-trained stunt hamster.
Weirder Albert Stanky-Vic of Minneapolis, MN asks: In the song “Jerry Springer” is your best friend Jay or Jake? I always though it was Jay but my friend hears Jake.
It’s Jake. And that goat doesn’t love him, either.
Fred Durst of L.A., California asks: In “Eat It”, why is it that the music sounds a little off-key from the original “Beat It”?
We did that in a much different key from the original song, because Michael Jackson and I have very different vocal ranges.
Diva of North Hollywood, CA asks: The educational films on AL-TV and in your concert are screamingly funny. How much footage is shot new and how much is culled from old educational films [the real kind?]
Every single shot is culled from an authentic educational film. Scary, isn’t it?
Steve “All about the Pentiums” K. of somewhere out there, NJ asks: “Airline Amy” is your only love song that doesn’t end in suicide, death, or general misery for all involved. Is this because it was inspired by a real-life person, or were you just in a good mood that day?
I didn’t have anybody in mind when I wrote that song, and I’m pretty much always in a good mood. And for what it’s worth, I’ve always thought “You Make Me” was pretty much a straight-forward love song.
Deborah Fabec of Atlanta, GA asks: Have you ever thought of recording an album under a different name the way that Garth Brooks did with his Chris Gaines album?
Yes, I’ve been releasing cheesy new age albums under the name “Yanni” for years. It started out as a joke, but people have just been eating it up!
Gina Asprocolas of Edison, NJ asks: Hi Al! I just saw your Al-TV special on MTV & I thought it was great! I know that you have to get permission when you want to write parodies of songs but, did you have to get permission from the artists (Cher, Steven Tyler…) for those crazy interviews??
MTV had to get permission from the artists. However, they only asked the artists if it was okay to use their interviews for “another MTV special” they were doing – I’m pretty sure they didn’t say their interviews were going to be ripped apart on AL-TV! (Gee, all of a sudden, I’ve got new respect for those MTV guys…)
Admiral Bob of Dallas/Texas asks: Will “Cell Phone” be on your next album? 🙂
I’m afraid not – I told Stipe he could have the exclusive on it.
Nathan Pitcher of Beverly, MA asks: Al, in the song, “The Saga Begins”, how come you didn’t put in all of the verses of the lyrics? I can understand there are probably 10 or 12 verses in “American Pie”, but I was just wandering why you didn’t. The song would be wicked funny if you did!
It would have been funny – but the video would also have been twice as expensive, and I would have gotten half as much airplay. So I guess I opted for practicality. (By the way, for the record, the original song had six verses, and mine had four.)
Steph “Evita27” Wild of Madison, WI asks: Who did the voiceovers for the “educational” films? The voice sounds way too authentic!
Originally (in the Saturday morning show), it was Bob Scott, but he is now retired and living in Miami. On AL-TV 2K we used Ralph Votrian.
The Artful Dodger of Ft. Lee, Virginia asks: Hey Al, I just saw your special on AL-TV and I have to say it was awesome, but I did notice one thing, it looked to me like you had a different Harvey the Wonder Hamster!!! Is’nt he normally white with a huge brown spot???
Harvey was a little jealous about all the attention that I got with my “makeover,” so he decided to get one too!
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for November, 1999
Reina Samuels of Washington D.C. asks: HI! First let me start by saying I LOVE YOU! Okay, now I was just listening to your new CD last night, like I do every night, and I noticed something at the end of Albuquerque. Who is that laughing in the last few seconds and was it left on the CD on purpose or was it a mistake?
That’s Jim West laughing – I thought it would be a good way to end the album. He’s cracking up because of the stupid chord he played at the end of the song.
Derek “Inquiring” Miner of Largo, Florida asks: I keep hearing people mispronounce your name as “Yanko-VICH.” Why do you think they do this, and doesn’t it bother you?
My paternal grandparents actually pronounced their name YONK-o-vich, so I guess there’s some history behind it. But it’s still one of my little pet peeves.
Liam Davenport of Blue Point, NY asks: Al, since you’re such a good friend of Drew Carey’s, will you ever appear on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”
Drew asked if I wanted to join in on the fun the last time I attended a taping of the show, and I declined. I’m terrible at improv, and I’m always amazed by people who are good at it.
Adam Mykris of Waterloo, IA asks: What did you dress up as for Halloween?
Let’s see… I did a concert in Portland, Maine, so that night I dressed up as Fred Flintstone, Kurt Cobain, an Amish guy, an 800-lb. Michael Jackson, a Jedi Knight, and a few other things…
Jamie Bergen of NSW, Australia! asks: Have you ever been to Australia? If not, do you think you’ll ever come here?? ANSWER ME!!
Um… okay… The last time I was in Australia (1989, I think), I was doing promotion for my movie “UHF” (which was released there as “The Vidiot From UHF”). Since Running With Scissors seems to be doing so well there (a top 20 album the last time I checked!) – and since we’ve always wanted to tour outside of North America (which to this date we’ve never done) – we’ll be making every effort to bring the tour there sometime next millennium.
Neal of Saylorsburg, PA asks: What is your biggest fear during a live prefomance?
Being attacked by rabid wolverines.
Dante Ranieri of Halifax/Nova Scotia asks: FANTASTIC CONCERT tonight, Al!! The bubble flakes during ‘The Night Santa Went Crazy’ were fun but tasted weird (of course!) What were they made out of?
Asbestos. Sorry about that.
Kathy of The tent in the middle of nowhere, NJ asks: Who sang the “Camp Superfun” on the Weird Al Show?
All those sped-up voices belonged to Steve Jay.
Sara of Colorful Colorado asks: Okay… Now I am triple confused… I sent you the questions about my Bad Hair Day CD, the picture being different from my friend’s copy and the picture being the same as my Alapalooza CD… But now I am even more confused because the back of the case for my Bad Hair Day CD says copyright 1994, the CD has a copyright of 1993, and the book in the CD case has a copyright of 1996… HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE????
The folks at Volcano are apparently having some quality control problems with these re-issues, and I apologize. We’ll try to keep a closer eye on them in the future.
Katie Morgan of Columbia, MO asks: What was your freshman year college roommate’s name?
Rob Hikido. You know him?
Sean “It’s Not Art” Peterson of Castro Valley, CA asks: Why is there a picture of you (I’m assuming it’s you) as a baby in the box set booklet with an accordion if you didn’t start playing until 7?
That accordion belonged to my Aunt Dot (I guess she played a little), and they took the picture because they thought it would be an ominous foreshadowing of my future career.
Elizabeth Fagan of Jersey City, NJ asks: Do you ever plan on having children?
Being a male, I believe that’s biologically impossible.
Carrie of Moncton, New Brunswick asks: Why was the concert in Moncton cancelled? Jay and I are big fans, and Jay especially has been waiting to see his hero since he was at least 10. This was our once in a lifetime chance and now it’s gone.
It was the promoter’s decision to cancel the show, and we’re all very sorry about it. I’m not sure what the exact reason was, but I believe it had something to do with Halloween being celebrated a day earlier in Moncton. Anyway, we’re making every effort to reschedule, and again, we’re very sorry.
Michael Lavoie of Meriden, CT asks: Al, when are you finally going to settle down and hear the pitter, patter of little feet around the house?
Are you suggesting that I marry a midget? Hmmm. I’ll have to consider that.
Lucy of CT, USA asks: Al, I was wondering, what was the strangest date you played at and why?
I can’t really narrow it down – there have been so many. One appearance that comes to mind, though, is a show I did for KROQ in Los Angeles. They had a promotion where the winner got to have me come to their place of business and do a live show. As it turns out, the winner worked in a rest home. I’ll never forget the looks on the faces of those poor geriatrics as I screamed the lyrics from “Smells Like Nirvana” at them.
Matt Lufcy of Springfield, IL asks: Do you actually hate sauerkraut?
No, I don’t really hate sauerkraut. But for the record, everything else in “Albuquerque” is absolutely true.
Karen & Katie of Pottsville, PA asks: How do you and the band, as warm-climate natives, manage to survive and stay warm when touring the northern U.S and Canada?
When we go outside, we put on jackets.
Tim Burrow of Osklaoosa Iowa asks: Is “Mr. Popeil”, off of the “IN 3-D” album, referring to Ron Popeil?
Actually, in spite of contrary belief, it’s not – it’s referring to Ron’s dad, who was the original inventor/pitchman of the Egg Scrambler, the Pocket Fisherman, and a myriad of other useful household items. Ron has obviously carried on the family tradition.
Nadrojjio of Orangeville, Ontario asks: I was at your recent Toronto show and I was wondering if there was some reason you didn’t perform Albuquerque?
I know it’s a fan favorite, but it’s just very hard to do live. We performed it when we did a show in Albuquerque (we pretty much had to), but then my voice was trashed for a week afterwards.
Genia Glos of Elizabeth,PA asks: Who is your favorite boy band?
Carrie of Bellingham, WA asks: After watching “Behind The Music” on VH1 and the movie clip on the “Running With Scissors” CD, I absolutely adore your parents. They are so funny, sweet and genuine. My question is, are there any plans to have them in any forthcoming videos or interviews?
On my new concert video, “Weird Al” Yankovic – LIVE! (coming to a fine retail establishment near you on November 23), my parents introduce the show. They had to fly up to San Rafael to do it, and it was a pretty big deal for them, because my dad rarely travels anywhere, and my mom hadn’t been on an airplane in over 40 years!
Andrew of Rockaway, NJ asks: Why didn’t you tell us that Running With Scissors is an enhanced CD?!
Shhhhh!! It’s a secret!
Erin English of the boonies, ON Canada asks: Hey Al, I was just wondering… how come you only did “The Weird Al Video Collection” on Much Music instead of the usual Al Music you do for your albums?? Please say you’ll do another Al Music soon!!
I had hoped to do another traditional Al Music, but the legal department at Much Music decided that they didn’t want me to do any more fake interviews, or talk over videos, or make fun of people in general without their written consent. Which is a drag. So the “Weird Al Video Collection” was the compromise. The irony is, MTV (who had a very similar attitude the last time around), is now saying that they’d like me to do an old-school style AL-TV! I’ll believe that when it happens, but I’m working on the script right now, and I’m told the special will start airing next month!
Hans Wright of Marietta/Ohio asks: Why did you shave?
I thought it would be the easiest way to get rid of my moustache.
Dan & Marle Workmon of Fresno, CA asks: On VH-1’s Behind the Music program featuring Al, we noticed a picture hanging above the mantle. What is that? It looks like a cross between a bumble bee and Bob’s Big Boy holding an ice cream cone! We watch it every time it airs, we’ve recorded it and played it over and over. Please tell us what it is and put our tortured minds to rest. Thank you.
That three-dimensional art piece was actually part of Harvey the Wonder Hamster’s habitrail, a prop that I nabbed from the set of the Weird Al Show.
Lynette of Mesa, AZ asks: I read today that you will be co-starring in a movie with Judy Tenuta called “Desperation Boulevard”. When will the general public be given the opportunity to have the immense pleasure of viewing this inevitable cinematic masterpiece?
I’m not co-starring, I have a very small cameo role. And I’m not sure when the movie will be out – Judy is financing it herself, and is currently looking for distribution. It’s a very funny movie, by the way, and Judy’s great in it.
Luke Owen of West Byfleet, Surrey, England asks: Hi there, Al. Here in England it’s absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to obtain your videos. How can I remedy this problem?
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for October, 1999
J. Watts of San Luis Obispo, CA asks: I was at your concert at your alma mater (Cal Poly). I was sitting in the dress circle left and had my feet up. Anyways… I was wondering… I heard you have a special song about San Luis Obispo and was hoping you would play it, but you didn’t. Why didn’t you, or are my friends pulling my leg?
We played the song (“Take Me Down”) at our previous Cal Poly show, but not this last time. For what it’s worth, the original recording (from 1978, I believe) is going to be on a local album called “SLO Unplugged” (with benefits going to the homeless), and it will probably also be on the next Dr. Demento Basement tapes collection.
Mary of The tent in the middle of nowhere, New Jersey asks: Do you or Bermuda still have an unedited version of UHF?
I have a long, horrible, first-cut of the movie – no music, no sound effects. It’s pretty bad – we cut a lot of stuff out that just plain didn’t work.
Rene’ Shaw of St. Marys, GA asks: Are there any web sites that you know of that have a “Weird Al” screen saver?
Well, there’s thepentiums.com, for one…
Linda Shah of Vienna, VA asks: Dear Mr. Yankovic, I’ve been having fun this weekend watching your VH1 video compilation! I didn’t realize you were still performing (Sorry! Most of this past decade I was overseas; I’ve missed lots.) Anyhow, my question – beneath that “rock ‘n’ roll” exterior are you a Buster Keaton fan? Two gags in your videos struck me as pure Keaton: 1. the barn raising in “Amish Paradise” where the frame falls over you is similar to “Steamboat Bill, Jr.”, and 2. the basketball “swish” shot in “Smells Like Nirvana” is like a skit from The Buster Keaton Show (1950). Thank you!
The falling barn frame gag was very much a Buster Keaton homage/ripoff. However, I’m not familiar with any Keatonesque basketball gags.
Brian Sullivan of Eliot, Maine asks: Who was your favorite New Kid on the Block?
Lisa of L.A., CA asks: I just saw your concert at the Greek Theatre and I wanted to know if you still get nervous onstage.
I usually get just a tiny bit nervous, but before the Greek I was extremely nervous because of all the people that I knew in the audience: my relatives, my friends from high school, the local media, newspaper reporters, and loads of celebrities (including John Landis, Emo Philips, Doug Feiger, Corey Feldman, the guys from Hanson, Jake Lloyd, Dr. Demento and my hero Stan Freberg). I was glad to get through that show without my brain exploding.
Pat Boylan of Long Beach, CA asks: Just saw you at the Greek last night (9/26/99) and wanted to know if Jake [Lloyd] had been prepared in advance for the fun that goes on onstage during Yoda?
I don’t know if he knew what he was getting himself in for. He was actually supposed to leave the stage after “The Saga Begins,” but I guess he decided to hang out for “Yoda” as well – so we had a little fun with him. He’s a really cool guy.
Mike Farley of South Amboy/ NJ asks: Hey Al, I just recently saw “Access Hollywood” and they were showing your house, and I was wondering what were all those remotes for??
Let’s see if I can remember off the top of my head: Audio Receiver, TV, VCR #1, VCR #2, C-Band Satellite Receiver, DSS Satellite Receiver, CD Player, Laserdisc Player, DVD Player…
Amy Smith of CA asks: I heard you had your vision corrected with laser surgery. I’m curious to know who did the surgery and do you now have 20/20 vision (or did it take a few times to get it perfect)?
It was done by Dr. Robert Maloney in Westwood, California, and the last time I was tested my vision was actually 20/15 (better than 20/20). They did both eyes at the same time, and I haven’t had to go back since.
Cody of MA asks: I’ve been to your 1999 tour and it rocked!!!! Have you ever considered taping your 1999 tour live and selling it as a album or as a video? Cause if you do I’ll buy one or maybe two!
The San Rafael show (10/2/99) is being taped for a VH1 concert special, and chances are that an expanded version of the special will be available as a home video later on in the year (it will most likely also include the new videos from Running With Scissors as well). We’ll let you know as soon as it’s confirmed.
Scott Jones of Issaquah, WA asks: Where did you go to Junior High School?
Hosler Junior High in Lynwood, California.
Sean Sydney of Toronto asks: Do you study your song parodies? For example, for Jerry Springer, did you watch it for a couple of weeks or something?
I don’t think I ever watched an episode of Jerry Springer until I decided that I wanted to do the song. And after watching a couple shows, I pretty much figured out the basic formula.
Art Beckerman of Lancaster, CA asks: Who was the resource for the lyrics for Pretty Fly for a Rabbi? As a synagogue board member, I was amazed at how accurate those lyrics are. And, I used that song as a discussion topic at a recent synagogue board meeting!
A good percentage of my friends are Jewish, and most of those Yiddish words are fairly common usage – in the entertainment industry, anyway. Also, I bought several English-Yiddish dictionaries for reference.
Lynda of O.C., CA asks: My mom and I watched the VH-1 special the other night and we both noticed something very interesting. There are a couple of clips of you twirling around in what looks like a dress when you were a boy. Where does this fetish for dresses stem from? I would understand if you had sisters but you are an only child.
That’s the one thing in the special I kinda wish they’d left out. My grandmother used to make dresses for little girls, some of whom were “just about my size,” so she’d have me try them on to make sure they looked all right. At least, that’s what she told me at the time. I’m starting to think she just wanted some juicy blackmail footage for later on in my life.
Michael “Cool Breeze” Pacelli of Cleveland, Tennessee asks: HEEEEYYYYY AL! Jus’ wonderin: In UHF and in the “Pentiums” video, you drive very similiar 1950’s Nash Metropolitans. Because I am a car freak as well, do you actually own one, and if no, what cars do you own? Thanx.
I’ve always thought that one of those Metropolitans would be great to have as a 2nd car – but currently my garage only has enough room in it for one. My current car is a Z3.
LuvnAl of PA asks: When Disney made George of the Jungle (with Brendan Fraser), why didn’t they use your George of the Jungle song at the end of the movie?
Because this world just isn’t fair, is it?
Matt of Westmont IL asks: What is the song “Way Blue”? It said it was in the movie UHF.
“Way Blue,” from what I remember, was the name given to the generic blues music playing in the bar before Stanley begins his mop speech.
Me (aka Kathy27) of Herein, NJ asks: What was it like having BNL on The Weird Al Show?
Barenaked Ladies are one of my favorite groups and we’ve been friends for a while, so of course it was a real kick to have them on. And I’m very glad to have won my battle with the CBS censors (they wanted me to introduce them as “BNL” instead of their “offensive” full name. Give me a break.)
Matthew Walker of Highland, CA asks: How come your parodies are often played faster than the original songs?
I generally like to make my parodies a couple beats per minute faster than the original song, just for a little energy boost. Also, I find that the comedy usually plays better if the tempo is a little quicker.
Stevo of T-burg, NY asks: Who plays the unlucky pianist in “You Don’t Love Me Anymore”?
That’s the very talented and unlucky Robert Goulet, who flew in from Las Vegas just to have his hands chopped off.
Chadly of Elgin, IL asks: I know you must be getting tired of What-was-it-like-working-with-so-and-so questions, but I noticed that you were recently working on a song with Tavis and Dan from Reel Big Fish. How/why did you hook up with the guys from RBF?
I met them at a party for the premiere for the movie “BASEketball,” and found out that we were mutual fans. I mentioned that I was writing a ska song for my new album, and they gladly accepted my invitation to lay down some tracks in the studio.
Jedi Josh of Chicago, Illinois asks: Hey Al, I’ve been watching the Star Wars Special Editions quite a lot lately and I keep hearing George Lucas saying that films are always a “work in progress” and are really never completed. Being a fellow director and writer, would you agree with him and do you think this “artist’s view of film,” as he calls it, also pertains to music?
I could work on an album forever, but like anything else of a creative nature, at a certain point you just have to “give up” on it and let it live its own life. I can certainly feel empathy for how George wanted to re-do his earlier works. Maybe someday I’ll get around to doing “In 3-D – The Special Edition”!
Fudge of Huntsville, AL asks: When you mention company names/products (i.e. Burger King, Spam, Oscar Meyer), do you have to get their permission or anything?
Legally, this is another gray area. I generally don’t, and just hope that the manufacturers will have a sense of humor about it and consider it free advertising.
Jake-on of Seattle WA asks: In the music video “Eat It,” what is that thing looking at you in the window?
That’s Bermuda Schwartz, wearing a rubber alien mask (for no apparent reason).
Tony Goldmark of San Francisco, CA asks: When I watched your sway pole act on “Circus Of The Stars” with my grandpa, he said that wasn’t really you, it was a stunt man. (Because most of the scenes in which they actually showed your face looked like they COULD have been shot in some dark room). Is he right? Is he going senile? Did you really risk your life on that sway pole? WHAT?
That was not trick photography, I really was hanging off a sway pole 55 feet in the air without a safety net. My manager says if he gets any more offers for me to be on Circus Of The Stars, he’s not going to tell me about them.
May Berenbaum of Urbana, IL asks: Was Mr. Yankovic’s appearance on “Space Ghost Coast to Coast” taped in Atlanta at Cartoon Network headquarters or was it taped in Los Angeles? What was it like interacting with a giant alien mantis?
I was at TBS headquarters in Los Angeles, talking via phone lines with the actor who plays Space Ghost, who I believe was in Atlanta. (I never actually spoke with Zorak.) Like they do with all their guests, they conducted an actual interview, then later chopped it all up and used a lot of the answers out of context. I guess I should know a little about that, huh?
Lizzy of St. Paul MN asks: Do you take showers or baths?
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for September, 1999
Happy Steve of Aurora, IL asks: In “Jerry Springer,” did you say “That goat doesn’t love you!” or “That goat doesn’t belong to you!”?
“That goat doesn’t love you!”
William Sanchez of Greenville, SC, home of the redneck asks: Did you have any marbles in your mouth while you were [singing] “bargle nawdle zouss” [in “Smells Like Nirvana]?
I believe I had cookies in my mouth while actually recording that line in the studio.
William Kirk of Columbus, OH asks: Why did you cancel your concert in Columbus, OH at the last minute?
The venue at which we were scheduled to play had failed to provide even the minimum technical requirements needed for us to put on a show, and we weren’t fully aware of this until we actually rolled into town. Also, they decided they weren’t going to pay us to perform – which is always a drag. Hopefully another Columbus show (with a different promoter) will be scheduled soon, and we’re all extremely sorry for the inconvenience.
Queen Amidala of Washington D.C. asks: Okay, Al, my man, I have suffered through many years of orthodontal pain to get my teeth as straight as they are today. Okay, dude, here’s my inquiry. Your teeth are in total alignment so I was just wonderin’ if you suffered as well…. and if you haven’t, it’s people like you with the perfect gene-pool who make me look bad. Cholly ho!
I have never worn braces or experienced any of the joys of orthodontia. Sorry.
Rachel of Holbrook, NY asks: Al – were you and Victoria Jackson ever more than just friends?
Yes. During the filming of “UHF,” we were also co-stars!
Michael Bateman of North Bend, WA asks: Your recent concert was quite the spiritual experience for me. Right as you sang “Ray Of Light,” a huge bolt of lightning shot across the sky. Is that something special you worked out with God, or is it a result of your new-found friendship with effects-master George Lucas?
Just a nice coincidence. The Monroe fair board actually tried to shut down our show early (before the encores) because they were concerned about the possibility of somebody getting hurt during the impending thunderstorm. We finished with “Fat,” and then I said goodnight to the audience and left the stage. Several minutes later I was on the bus watching TV when my road manager ran in, yelling, “Nobody’s leaving! You’d better get back out there!” I came back out to a standing ovation. It was truly an unexpected encore, and very gratifying for myself and the band.
Patrick Durkin of Rowlett Tx asks: In my local paper it says that Al will be playing in Dallas Texas on Oct. 3rd at the Bronco Bowl. But why is it on your site it says he’s not playing that date in Dallas? Please respond ASAP. Thanks!
Your local paper is toying with your emotions. Actually, some Texas dates had been discussed at one point, but nothing was confirmed – apparently your paper jumped the gun a bit. Hopefully, we’ll play Texas someday… and until then, you can check out all the real tour dates at weirdal.com.
Joe Weatherford of Lexington Ky asks: On Running With Scissors, how did they make it look like there was a pair of scissors sticking out of Bermuda’s head?
We kept ramming a pair of scissors into Bermuda’s head until we found a spot soft enough so that they stuck. What a good sport he is, huh?
Joe Weatherford of Lexington Ky asks: Who was that dead guy in Running With Scissors?
That’s Ruben (our tour keyboardist) finally getting his long-awaited first picture on an album.
Jim Lang of Columbus, Indiana asks: Are you going to release any CD singles or cassette singles for any of the songs on “Running With Scissors” ?
Unfortunately, I’m told that our new record label (Volcano) has a policy of not releasing commercial singles – only promotional singles to radio stations.
Vince of Washington State asks: What was Don McLean’s response to your parody of his song?
I talked to Don on the phone before the tour started, and he seemed to like the parody very much. However, he says that his kids listen to RWS around the house a lot, so now when he’s doing “American Pie” in concert, the lyrics to my song keep creeping into his brain. He also told me that around the same time he approved my parody, he turned down a request from Coolio to use an “American Pie” sample (great, another reason for him to hate me).
Greg of Youngstown, OH asks: I love the dead wax inscriptions on Even Worse, Dare To Be Stupid, and your first album. Are there any others and what exactly does “100,000,000” mean on Even Worse? Make more vinyl.
There were inscriptions on most if not all of my vinyl releases. “100,000,000” was a reference to a story in the media about Michael Jackson, who apparently at the time was scrawling the number everywhere because he had set a personal goal to sell 100,000,000 copies of his “Bad” album. So I figured that I might as well set the same goal for myself.
Big Jon L. of Lawrenceville, Georgia asks: Hey Al, I recently bought Running With Scissors, and at the beginning of Pretty Fly For A Rabbi, what do the phrases you say in Hebrew mean in English?
It’s a phrase that I pulled out of an English-Yiddish dictionary. It’s actually half of a Yiddish curse – roughly translated, it means “May you turn into a blintz.”
Jacob Pactor of Indianapolis, IN asks: What type of deodorant do you use?
Lime-scented Mennen speed stick, or a dead raccoon, depending on the occasion.
Emily of Dayton, Ohio asks: What are the things you wear in your ears during concerts? What is their purpose?
This tour, for the first time, all the band members (except Steve) have switched to wearing in-ear monitors. This helps us to hear ourselves much better on stage, allowing us to sing more in tune and play more in time. It also keeps the stage volume down and eliminates the need for those bulky monitor wedges.
Stu Gowdy of South Berwick ME asks: Why do you think Eddie Vedder is pretty cool? It says so at the end of the “special thanks”section.
I met Eddie after a Pearl Jam show in Akron, Ohio a couple years ago. I talked to him backstage for a few minutes, and he seemed like a decent, down-to-earth kinda guy. I don’t know what he thinks of my song, but I really hope he’s not offended by it. Of course, it was written from the perspective of a guy who’s bitter and jealous because his girlfriend’s got a crush on him, so it may seem a little harsh… but hopefully Eddie understands that it’s a JOKE.
Joe of Tampa/FL asks: The other day I was listening to Radio Disney (don’t ask) and they were playing “The Saga Begins”. Actually, they play it frequently. Anyway, I noticed that instead of saying “hitting on the queen” it sounds more like “talking to the queen.” Is this a different version (the kid friendly version), or am I just hearing it wrong (it is an AM station after all)?
Radio Disney (who, as you mentioned, has been extremely supportive) had a problem with the line “hitting on the queen.” They played the unedited version of the song on the first night it aired, but after that they just CUT the offending line right out of the song. The edit sounded horrible. And as much as I don’t like to “adjust” my lyrics to suit other people’s needs, changing those two words was a much preferable alternative to hearing a bad edit over and over.
Tim Burrow of oskaloosa Iowa asks: Why was your video “Jurassic Park” in claymation?
It’s just too hard to find real live dinosaurs these days.
The Doc of Monroe, LA asks: I noticed on your Saga Begins homepage that you’ve got a tiny section at the bottom showing the Saga Begins and Pentiums, both in the Star Wars format. But there’s a vacant space on the third block. Was that a clue for anyone who was paying attention and is there a new work of “Al” in the makings? (hope that doesn’t count as two questions.) Oh yeah, and dude, you rule!!!
I’m sure that the web designers were just trying to emulate the format of the official Star Wars website. There are currently no plans to do a third video for “Running With Scissors.”
Rene’ Shaw of St. Marys, GA asks: I was just admiring the artwork on your debut album when I noticed something. All of the songs on the album have a drawing associated with them on the cover. Am I the only one who has noticed this?
No, I noticed it a long time ago.
Nate Lohman of Whitehall, Michigan asks: In the video “It’s All About The Pentiums,” are your ears really pierced?
No, I was using magnetic earrings (the top part is metal, and the backing is a magnet). I remember the video shoot ground to a halt because one of my earrings had flown off, and it took several minutes to find it. (It was in my pants.)
Spencer of Albuquerque, NM asks: What’s the difference between a lyrical adaptation, a parody, and a plain adaptation?
Boy, you got me there. For whatever reason, the lawyers for Don McLean and Puff Daddy insisted that we list my version of their songs as “adaptations,” not “parodies.” Hey, if it makes them happy…
Laura Minegar of Rogue River/Oregon asks: Is that your voice on the Truck Drivin’ Song? If so, how’d you get your voice so deep?
That is, in fact, my voice. It’s not altered in any way. However, I did have to sing it first thing in the morning when my voice is naturally much lower.
Johnalan Norris of Rockbridge, IL asks: Al, during your concert at Six Flags in Eureka, MO you called your mom and had the audience wish her a happy anniversary. Did she know what was going on?
I’m not sure if she fully understood at the time, but one of my cousins explained it to her after she got off the phone, and she really appreciated it.
Bobman of Palmdale, CA asks: How do you pick your concert songs — are they the same for any given show? In other words, if I saw you in Lancaster and then see you at the Greek Theatre, will the show be different?
Our full shows for this tour are pretty much identical. However, the Lancaster show was only an hour long, and the Greek show will be the normal two hour show. A lot of times, fairs insist that we do a shorter set so that the audience members will have more time to walk around and buy corn dogs.
Byron of San Marcos, California asks: Where did you get those great Jedi robes for the “Saga Begins” video? I’m looking for good replicas and those look authentic. Were they from Lucasfilm?
Those robes are the same ones that we wore in the video, and they were made from scratch by wardrobe designer Nancy Fisher, who’s done a number of projects with us.
Justin of Brooklyn/New York asks: Can I get your autograph?
Well, now, that remains to be seen, doesn’t it?
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for August, 1999
Luke Owen of West Byfleet, Surrey, UK asks: Which bit exactly is the “Ear Booker Polka”?
Every songwriter in the polka medley is paid based on the percentage of the medley where their song is heard. “The Ear Booker Polka,” basically, is the name given to every single part of the medley that is not directly attributable to another songwriter – that is, if somebody else didn’t write it, I get the credit (and the royalties). Recently the name was changed to “The Way Moby Polka” for accounting reasons.
Janelle of Alberta, Canada asks: How come on the front of your Running With Scissors album your hair is straight? Or is it not you?
No, it’s definitely me. And my hair is definitely not straight – it’s still extremely curly. It’s just that my hair has gotten very long, and gravity tends to straighten out my curls a bit.
Garrett Stanfield of Mt. Airy, NC asks: Al, why did you choose to release Running With Scissors on a Tuesday?
I didn’t have any say in it. I don’t know why, but all major label albums are released on a Tuesday. That’s just the wacky way of the world.
Dan of Sacramento, CA asks: “Truck Drivin’ Song” – Was that inspired by C.W. McCall and his lovely songs of trucking life on the road, perhaps?
I got several compilation CDs of Truck Driving Songs when I was doing research for “Truck Drivin’ Song,” and C.W. McCall was definitely one of the people I listened to for inspiration.
Nate of Whitehall, MI asks: In the song “Jurassic Park,” did you get the T-rex sounds from the movie “Jurassic Park”?
No. Sandy Berman, a friend of mine who does sound effects, created some nifty dinosaur yells for a major theme park attraction and he was nice enough to “loan” them to me.
Jordan Walsh of Willoughby Hills, OH asks: On the cover of Running With Scissors did you run with real scissors?
Yes, they were big, sharp and very real. Kids, don’t try this at home.
Lee Seitz of Huntsville, AL asks: Did you consider trying to get UHF alumnus Fran Drescher to do one of the voices for “Pretty Fly for a Rabbi”?
Actually, yes – but there was apparently some kind of mix-up or miscommunication with her agent, so it didn’t happen. The incredibly talented Tress MacNeille filled in quite nicely, though.
Don “Don O’ the Dead” Pinsent of Oakville, Ontario, Canada asks: Your box set seems to have two titles– “Permanent Record” and “Al in the Box.” Is that just because you couldn’t decide which one you liked better or what?
I came up with both titles, and then decided that I liked Permanent Record better. In the meantime, Scotti Bros. decided that they liked Al In The Box better. Neither one of us wanted to give in, so we compromised by calling it “Permanent Record: Al In The Box.”
Jason Bryans of Mason, Mi asks: Was Running With Scissors the first title that popped into your head for the new album or did you have other possible titles?
I was strongly considering a title and cover concept based on Star Wars – I kind of liked “Album One” for the title, but nobody else did. Basically, nobody could come up with a Star Wars-based title that we all could agree was clever or catchy enough, and everybody seemed to like “Running With Scissors,” so we went with that instead.
Darian Glover of Sidney, NY asks: Has touring ever conflicted with a directing offer or other project you wanted to do?
After I directed “Wail” for the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, I got offers to direct for Sammy Hagar, Megadeth, Blues Traveller and others, but I had to turn them down because I was going on the road. Also, I had to turn down being Michael Jackson’s opening act on the European leg of his 1988 tour – because that was the summer we shot UHF.
Uncle Nutzy of Kansas asks: Al, I have seen UHF exactly 7 times. I’ve been dying to know, are those staples in that bad guy’s face real?
I’m pretty sure they were real staples, but I’m also pretty sure they were just attached with adhesive.
Geoff Voigt of Ridgecrest, CA asks: Al… Waaaaaayyyyy back when in the early 80’s, you were part of a contest on MTV in which the 2nd prize was supposedly your car. Was it really your car, or just a car made by MTV to be a Second Place prize? Just Curious.
It really was my beat-up white 1982 Toyota Corolla. I was trying to get rid of it, so I had it painted up like a giant Hawaiian shirt and gave it away on MTV. The woman that won it was less than thrilled (three prizes were being offered, and she was hoping to win the David Bowie package – she was downright disgusted to find out that all she got was my stinking car).
Brian Eager Beaver of Pendleton Oregon asks: Do you think Madonna still has it?
What, the five bucks that I loaned her? Yeah, probably.
Steve of Reno! of Reno, NV asks: Al, why are you doing a show in Idaho one night and then one in Antelope Valley, CA and then back to Idaho again? Seems to be a logistical problem here. Do you have your own private aircraft?
We use public airlines when we fly, but we much prefer to just ride the bus whenever possible. And rock tours NEVER make any logistic sense. Shows are booked by the availability of the venues and the money being offered – and because of that the tour routing oftentimes gets downright stupid.
Russ Widger of Toronto asks: When I met you after your show in Tampa in 1997, you graciously autographed my copy of James Brown’s In The Jungle Groove. Hopefully I will meet you in Detroit this August, and I do not want to insult you – so could you please suggest a CD for me to carry with me that you would like to autograph?
Hmmm… oh, I don’t know… let’s see… how about Running With Scissors?
Ashley Devine of Bellefontaine, Ohio asks: I’m just wondering what was it like directing a music video that isn’t your own?
The downside is that since it’s not my own video, I don’t have full creative control, and on occasion I have to compromise my vision to please a client. The upside is that I’m not spending my own money.
Tim Montgomery of Decatur, IL asks: I noticed you thanked “local high school shop teacher” Joe Earley on the back of your debut album. I’m just interested in knowing why you thanked him.
Joe Earley wasn’t really the name of my local high school shop teacher. He was one of my best friends in college – he played juice harp on some of my early coffee house gigs, and actually was my first bass player. Sadly, we had to let him go because, well, he didn’t know how to play bass.
Kevin Weaver of Joppa, MD asks: Where was that picture of you as Anakin Skywalker taken?
That was taken against a backdrop next to the track where we shot the front cover of Running With Scissors. The actual background you see in the finished art was a photograph of a miniature which we had built; the pictures of me and my shadow were then dropped into it.
Rip Carbuncle of Big Loins, Arkansas asks: Al… In UHF, did you get the name “Uncle Nutzy’s Clubhouse” from the MAD Magazine article with the same show title?
Yes, that was a little homage to one of my favorite all-time pieces in MAD magazine.
Bob Olson of Tampa Bay, Florida asks: Have you ever peed out of a car window when it was moving?
When it was moving? No.
Joe Roy of Scituate, RI asks: What is the difference between “My Bologna” on “Weird Al” Yankovic and “My Bologna” (Capitol Records single version) on the box set? I noticed the difference between both “Happy Birthday”s, but not between the “My Bologna”s.
Sounds to me like you got a first printing of the box set, which unfortunately contained the wrong version of “My Bologna” (the debut album version, not the Capitol Records single version). If it’s important to you to have the right version, you might consider trying to return and exchange it. Sorry.
Sean “It’s Not Art” Peterson of Castro Valley, CA asks: Do the original artists have a “silence agreement” not to tell the world that you’ll be parodying them?
Although we usually suggest that they keep mum on the parody, it really isn’t appropriate to swear anybody to secrecy. This is why there are sometimes “leaks” on parody information before the album comes out.
Chris Irvine of Darwin, Australia asks: What exactly was George Lucas’ reaction to “The Saga Begins” when you sent it to him?
The exact quote we got from Lucasfilms was, “You should’ve seen the smile on his face.” That was one of the best phone calls I’ve ever gotten in my life.
Greg Method of Richfield, Ohio asks: We all know you’re a big fan of “Ren and Stimpy” and John Kricfalusi/Spumco, but I once read that after Nickelodeon fired Spumco from producing the show, they actually approached you with doing the writing for new episodes. Is there any truth to that?
Yes, they were interested in having me write for the show, but I declined out of respect for John Kricfalusi. Besides, John has a real problem with non-animators writing for animation.
Anthony Galenbeck of Salem/OR asks: Since you live in the Hollywood Hills, I was wondering who your neighbors are?
Well, there’s Dolores, of course – she picks up my mail when I’m on the road – and then there’s Michael and Elizabeth on the other side. Nice folks.
Paul B of Palmerston North, New Zealand asks: Looking at the video for “The Saga Begins,” I noticed that Al’s hands didn’t change key while playing the guitar. Is this because Al doesn’t play the guitar, and just wanted it for show?
No no no… I was using a very special kind of Jedi tuning. Extremely difficult to master. I wouldn’t expect you to know that, though.
Scott O of Boston, MA asks: Why 27 questions?
Because 28 would be too many – and 26 too few.
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for July, 1999
Michael Zduniak of Scottsdale, AZ asks: How’d u get all that hair under the wig?????????
My “hair lady” uses an extremely sticky substance called “gaf quat,” which I’m told is the active ingredient in hair spray. My hair is carefully combed, positioned, pinned and glued down to my head, and then blow- dried until it’s hard as a rock. Then the wig goes on. And the whole process only takes 3 or 4 hours!
Tracy Halladay of Brigham City, Utah asks: Are you easily recognized in public or are most people clueless when they actually see you in person?
Ever since I’ve gone without the glasses and the facial hair, very few people recognize me in public anymore. And even when they do, a lot of them are still clueless!
Donovan Jones of Louisville, Kentucky asks: Hey Al, who painted the cover for your first album (“Weird Al” Yankovic)?
That was a Brazilian artist named Rogerio, and as you can tell, he’s very talented.
Kevin Masser of Phoenix, Arizona asks: Did you get to keep the big Al balloon from “Safety Patrol”?
Yes I did – and a lot of the people that came to our outdoors shows on the Bad Hair Tour got to see that balloon live and in person!
Bonnie Peterson of Madison,WI asks: How long have you had your nickname?
Which one, “Stud Muffin” or “Love Monkey”? Oh it doesn’t matter, I’ve had them both for practically forever.
John Biggelsworth of Riverside, CT asks: Why does Hanson thank you on their “Tokyo to the Middle of Nowhere” music video?
I’d imagine it was for giving them their “big break” on the Weird Al Show!
Marty Gobin of Ajax, Ontario asks: Were you or any of the band members born in Canada?
Jim West is a proud Canadian. And the rest of us are honorary Canadians, eh?
Lisa of Middletown RI asks: On the UHF video where you are in the red car with the girl in the sunglasses, is it a parody of I Love LA?
Yes it is – in fact, we used the very same “big nasty redhead” that Randy Newman used in his video.
Stephen Schultz of Bakersfield, CA asks: I’ve heard two songs called “Windows 95 Sucks” and “He Got the Wrong Foot Amputated” which are credited to you, but don’t really sound like you to me. Am I crazy? Did you write them, and if not, do you know who did?
Okay okay okay. Let me try to clear this up once and for all. No, I didn’t do “Windows 95 Sucks.” Or “He Got The Wrong Foot Amputated.” Or “Baby Got Jack.” Or “What If God Smoked Cannabis.” Or “Star Wars Cantina.” A lot of people assume that every parody in the world is done by me, and that’s just not true. Only 62% of them are. So check the discography at this web site if you have any doubts. If it’s not on there… chances are, it ain’t me!
Nate Cary of Saginaw,MI asks: I noticed that in the credits in UHF there were stunt men. I’m just wondering what dangerous scenes in the movie required stunt men?
Are you kidding?? Somebody could’ve gotten their eye poked out with that mop!
Jared of Batesville/IN asks: Is there a specific reason why you tilt your head in photos?
The left side of my brain is much heavier than my right side.
Micheal Kling of Tulsa, OK asks: The new James Bond movie is called “The World Is Not Enough”. Now, take the first letter in each of those words. TWINE. Any thoughts?
Yes. You really need to get out more often.
The wich doctor of Austin, TX asks: How old are your parents?
My mom was born on 2/7/23 and my dad on 6/4/17. As always, I’ll let you do the math.
Lee of Ft Myers, Fl asks: Did you try to get Leslie Nielsen to come on the Weird Al Show?
Actually, yes, we did ask him, but unfortunately he couldn’t do it because he was busy shooting “Mr. Magoo.” And I certainly didn’t want to deprive the world of THAT.
Cris Ketchum and Kickhafer of Cottage Grove, MN asks: Have you met any of the following people : Adam Sandler, Damon Wayons, Marlon Wayons, Jennifer Aniston, Tim Allen, Jim Carrey, George Lucas, Stan Lee, or Rodney Dangerfield?
Lizzy of St. Paul MN asks: What was the first concert you went to?
I’m pretty sure it was Elton John, sometime in the mid-70’s.
Brian Leahy of North Ridgeville, OH asks: I got your DVD and love the “Spy Hard” sequence. I understand that you had to omit the credits for legal reasons, but I’d have thought you could at least have preserved the two spots where you actually interacted with the credits – that is, when you smack the “Spy Hard” title out of the way, and when you look at your own credit and flash a smug grin. After all, the words “Spy Hard” and “Weird Al Yankovic” are already printed on the DVD’s packaging, so how could there be legal trouble with that?
That’s EXACTLY the argument we used with Disney’s legal department. Of course, being corporate lawyers, that kind of logic and reason was beyond their comprehension.
Paul Triggiani of Springfield, Pa asks: Who is that woman laughing well into the end of “The Check’s In The Mail?” She has been bugging me since I was eight.
That woman is… uh… me.
Andy “Gadget” Hainline of Tnek, The City of the Unpronouncable asks: Hey Al … I know you’re pretty computer savvy. I was just wondering — what music software/hardware do you use? (i.e., Cakewalk or something else) and what type of MIDI setup you have… Boy am I a geek.
I’ve been using Passport software – Encore for notation and Master Tracks Pro for sequencing… you geek.
Princess Buttercup of Savage MN asks: Do you cook for yourself, and if you do, what do you like to make?
I don’t like to spend a lot of time cooking, so if it requires more than one step, I usually don’t bother. (Like, if I have to take it out of the can AND heat it up… forget it!)
Tom Drewicke of Bemidji, MN asks: What was it like working with Crispin Glover on his “Big Problem” album? Did you ever consider him for a role in UHF?
It was fun, and really bizarre. Actually, we did try to cast him in “UHF.” At one point, in fact, I think I had offered him the role of Philo! However, the only part he was interested in playing (for some odd reason) was the “I’ll club a seal to make a better deal!” used car salesman – and we just didn’t think he was right for that particular part.
This Guy of Somewhere, USA asks: When you were Penn & Teller’s Sin City Spectacular, I noticed you were having a bit of trouble hitting the high notes on “The Night Santa Went Crazy.” Were you sick at the time?
Yes, I was just getting over a terrible case of laryngitis. I know I sounded bad, and I would have canceled our appearance, except for the fact that Penn & Teller had built a whole production number around me, and I would have felt horrible about backing out. I’m better now, though, thanks.
Bob Rodman of Tri-Cities, WA asks: Have any of your songs been based on true stories?
Just “Slime Creatures From Outer Space.”
Fan Tom Mennis of Embarrass, MN asks: How many takes were required to film your hold-up scene in “Naked Gun 2 1/2?
I forget exactly, but I’m pretty sure it was over 20. They kept slamming that door into me over and over and over… By about the 16th take, after my leg had turned a nice shade of purple, the stunt coordinator finally came over and asked – “Hey, would you like to wear some padding?” I remember O.J. felt sorry for me.
Jace McLain and Megan Herman of Germantown , Tennessee asks: Why aren’t any of the of the songs from “Bad Hair Day” on Greatest Hits?
You know, we WOULD have put them on there, except for the fact that “Bad Hair Day” came out several years after “Greatest Hits.”
Jedi Josh of Chicago, Illinois asks: If you were to make a “Special Edition” of UHF, what changes or additions would you make to your hysterical masterpiece?
Hmmm… I guess I would show me actually going ABOARD the spaceship…
Not_Amused in Mayaguez of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico asks: Dear Al: I hate “Dare to be Stupid” but my boyfriend likes it a lot and he just won’t stop singing it. Whatever can I do? — Not_Amused in Mayaguez
I think you should break up with him as soon as possible, so he can be free to find someone with decent musical taste.
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for June, 1999
Aaron Barnard of Hamel, Illinois asks: What is the new CD called?
“Running With Scissors.”
Weird M of Stanley Spadowski’s Clubhouse asks: How come your music video collection says “Alapalooza: the Videos” but only has four videos on it and only two of them are actually from “Alapalooza”?
Well, we WERE going to call it “Alapalooza: Two Videos Based On Songs From The Album, And Two Other Videos That Really Don’t Have Anything To Do With Alapalooza But We Thought You’d Appreciate Having Them On This Collection Anyway”… but the retailers liked the shorter title better.
Cal Patti of WVU (I forget where I used to live) asks: Are any of your band members married to someone?
Both Steve Jay and Bermuda Schwartz are married, but not to each other.
Jason Bryans of Mason Michigan asks: At the end of the Weird Al Theme song where the word “show” is held, what are the people saying when they are yelling?
Those voices are all mine, and basically I’m just scat-singing whatever nonsense syllables pop into my head. No secret messages, no Satanic back-masking.
JJ Hintz of Santa Barbara, CA asks: Throughout UHF there are times when a barber shop quartet/doo-wop style music can be heard in the background (such as when George first arrives at the U62 station). Is that an Al and band creation or did some other group perform those interludes?
Those particular music cues were by John DuPrez (he did the music score for UHF, and also had worked quite a bit with the Monty Python troupe). He asked me to sing a few things as part of the score, so yes, that is my voice that you hear in that particular section.
Chuck Nathan of Cortlandt Manor, NY asks: A few days ago I picked up your DVD and saw the video for ‘Dare To Be Stupid’. My question is, was the device with the video monitor an interociter from the sci-fi movie ‘This Island Earth’ also seen in MST3K The Movie?
Yes, that was supposed to be an interociter. Unless you’re an attorney, in which case – no it wasn’t, and I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Ralf Hildebrandt of Braunschweig, Germany asks: Why didn’t you include “Bite Me” on the OTDE CD in Europe?
Unfortunately, we have very little control over what happens in pressing plants overseas. Sorry.
Luke Owen of West Byfleet, Surrey, England asks: Describe your worst memory of a gig.
Um, let’s see… There was this one gig we had – it was on the east coast somewhere, I think – it was in a nightclub… maybe a theatre… and we did this show where we, um… did a bunch of songs, and uh… I guess after we were done everybody went home. I think.
DK of Greenvile,California asks: What is the title of your new album?
It’s called “Running With Scissors.”
Andrew of Lakewood, NJ asks: Can you name any of the songs on your new album?
Yes, I can name all of them.
Bonnie Peterson of Madison, WI asks: Do you have a nasty habit?
Yes, I have a nasty habit of giving flip, stupid answers to perfectly reasonable questions.
Netty of New Zealand asks: When are you going to come to New Zealand on tour or a promotional visit or something? (I would like it if you did)
Probably not in the near future. I did go to New Zealand in 1989 to promote the release of UHF there. I even appeared on the New Zealand version of the Dating Game!
Joshua Nicholson of Semmes, AL asks: Did you really hold the endlessly long note at the end of the Spy Hard theme, or was it just a looping job?
I originally planned to loop it, but when I got to the studio, I found I was actually able to sing the entire note in one breath – which I did.
Blinky the One-Eyed, six-legged hedgehog of I think it’s California asks: Is Mr. Frump in the Iron Lung real?
Yes, it’s really the last cut on my debut album.
michial of lawrenceville, ga asks: I saw somewhere that an important figure in the development/invention of television was a guy named Philo. Is that where you got the name for the character in “UHF”?
How very astute of you! Yes, Philo was named after Philo T. Farnsworth, who is widely credited as having invented television.
Sami Walker of Chandler, Az asks: Hey, It’s me again. Just wondering if that is your real hair braided in the Bad Hair Day photo. Well, hope to see you in concert for the ’99 tour!
Yes, that is my real braided hair – and just to prove it, check out the half-tone photo (under the lyrics) in the Bad Hair Day CD booklet. That’s an extreme close-up of my scalp!
Jeff of Stratford, Ont. Canada asks: Hey Al: Could you give me an idea of how your albums sold – like a ranking from most sold to least sold? Thanks.
I don’t have the most current information on me, but as of 1/17/97 the ranking of my albums from best-selling to worst-selling is as follows: Bad Hair Day, Even Worse, In 3D, Dare To Be Stupid, Off The Deep End, Alapalooza, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Polka Party, Greatest Hits, Greatest Hits Vol. II, The Food Album, The UHF Soundtrack, The TV Album, Permanent Record.
Kevin Brockway Jr. of Greenwich, N.Y. 12834 asks: Are you a fan of the classic rock band Led Zeppelin at all? If you are, you could polka versions of some of their songs. Since you did a polka version of the Queen song “Bohemian Rhapsody”, you could do “Stairway to Heaven” or “Dazed and Confused” or something, I think you sound cool if you did polka versions of Zeppelin tunes, don’t you?
Oddly enough, a few years ago Jimmy Page called my office to get some copies of my videos, so I knew he was a fan. Unfortunately, when I asked him shortly after that how he’d feel about my doing a Led Zeppelin polka medley, he was less than thrilled with the prospect, so I didn’t pursue it.
Badaim of St. Louis, MO asks: Hey Al, who played Lucy in the “Ricky” video?
That was Tress MacNeille, who just might make an appearance or two on the new album!
Stephanie of Indiana asks: What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve done on TV?
I’d have to say it was completely blanking out and forgetting the words to “Achy Breaky Song” during a national live appearance on Regis & Kathie Lee. (I brought along cue cards the next time I did the show.)
Rex New of Berwick, Louisiana asks: What is the new album called?
That would be “Running With Scissors.”
Vermin Boy of Templeton, MA asks: Was “Polka Your Eyes Out” meant to be reminiscent of Spike Jones? I’ve noticed a few similarities (The breaking glass and gunshots, the banjo riffs, the “Der Fuhrer’s Face” tuba part…)
At this point, I’d say my polka medleys probably owe more to the music of Spike Jones than to any traditional kind of polka music.
Jordan D. White of Naugatuck, CT asks: Is the song “I’m So Sick of You” based on the sound of Elvis Costello’s earlier records? It reminds me of the album “This Year’s Model,” especially the bass part which sounds a lot like “Pump It Up.”
Right you are – “I’m So Sick Of You” was very much “Model”-ed after the early works of Elvis Costello.
Ray Smotherman of Nashville, TN asks: Every year I wait, and every year I cry (well, I get miffed anyway.) Why don’t you ever play Nashville anymore? Our Zanies club has a newspaper clipping of you on the wall, so I know you were here before. Did something “Deliverance”-like happen?
Oh yes, we all remember Zanies. A very nice little comedy club – but not one that could accommodate a full rock band. We were so cramped up on that stage we could hardly move – we had our amps out in the audience. My stage manager was begging me to cancel the show, but we did it anyway – and had a nice long talk with our booking agent afterwards.
Nate Cary of Saginaw, MI asks: I heard that you didn’t like the TV & Food albums, but did you like doing the 2 Greatest Hits albums?
I don’t mind putting out actual “Greatest Hits” albums every decade or so – I realize the value in that. I just have a problem when the record company tries to make a quick buck by putting out albums like “Songs That Al Did In The Key Of F#”.
larry hitz of lafayette/IN asks: Do you sell back stage passes to your concerts?
Only to Rubén.
Thorsten Gutbrod of Germany asks: When will your new album be released ???
June 29, 1999. Oh, and if you haven’t heard, it’s called “Running With Scissors.”
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for May, 1999
Matt 2 of Noho, MA asks: How did UHF do in the box office? I’m a little too young to remember. I’ve read some old not-too-friendly reviews, but it’s still my favorite movie. Just wondering how many others share my love.
Thanks. It really didn’t do that well initially at the box office – I think it made about 2.1 million the first weekend, and went on to make a little over 6 million domestically. The movie only cost about five million to make, so it’s not like the studio lost a ton of money. However, their hopes for it were so high (it got Orion Pictures’ best testing score since the original “Robocop”) that they were naturally disappointed that it didn’t blow Batman and the latest Indiana Jones movie out of the water. Well, I’m really glad you guys still like it.
Doug McDonald of Montclair, NJ asks: Is that Madonna on the video to “Like A Surgeon”?
No, that was the winner of a local Madonna look-alike contest.
ryan hewitt of edinboro, pa asks: are you ready for y2k?
Yes, I’m burying my life savings in the back yard and covering myself in tinfoil.
Eric Stringer of Fayetteville, AR asks: Dear Al, I once visited San Luis Obispo, CA. Unfortunately, this was in about 1979 and before I knew of your great talent, so forgive me for not stopping by and saying hello. Anyway, here is my question: While I was visiting this wonderful city, I noticed several people had filled used milk containers with water and placed them on their lawn. Why is this? Sincerely, Eric Stringer
Obviously you’ve never heard of the San Luis Obispo milk container fairy, who comes in the middle of the night and replaces the water with fresh homogenized milk. That’s why most people live there.
Drew Stern of MD asks: How old were you when you first got glasses?
I believe I was in the 4th grade, so… I don’t know, 8 or 9?
Matthew Wyatt of San Diego, CA asks: You performed “Melanie” in your 1996/97 tour (I saw you in Tulare). It’s one of my favorite songs. I was so happy, I jumped up and down, screaming. I think I scared the people sitting next to me. Anyway, I was wondering why you chose to put it in the tour so long after it’s release date? And what are the chances I could hear Velvet Elvis in the future?
I like to put at least one semi-obscure original song in each tour set list just for the hardcore fans that like those semi-obscure original songs. And by the way, if you’ve got “Even Worse,” you can hear Velvet Elvis right now!
brian lough of edmond/oklahoma asks: why isn’t ruben in the band photo on the back of the bad hair day cd cover?
He is – he’s just hiding behind Bermuda.
Matthew Rogers of Kaneohe Bay, HI asks: Has there ever been any ukulele parts played in your music?
I’m pretty sure there was ukulele on the breakdown section of “I’ll Be Mellow When I’m Dead.”
Rob and Kevin (of Kevin and Rob fame) of Gurnee, IL ask: Does your drummer Bermuda Schwartz have any nicknames (besides Jon)?
In certain circles he’s known as Pedro the Weasel-Faced Dog Boy.
Tony Goldmark of San Francisco, CA asks: I noticed your 1996 AL-TV special was considerably different from past specials (not only in the videos you played, but also your “between video” bits were a lot shorter). Who’s idea was that?
That was totally MTV’s idea. I wasn’t happy about it, but the show did very well and they aired it to death. I’m not exactly sure what they’re going to let me get away with if and when we do it again.
Mike Schooley of T-Ville Ut asks: do you have to ask permission to do style parodies?
Well, as I always say, we live in a country where anybody can sue anybody else for any reason at any time, so it’s always a gray area. However, even though I always get permission for the parodies, I don’t feel obligated to do the same for “sound-alikes.”
Jon G of Abbotsford asks: What is the average reaction from a person at McDonalds when you walk in the door and order food?
“Would you like fries with that?”
Frederico Chavez of Chicago/IL asks: Have you ever considered working (or have you worked) with the fellows from Spinal Tap? I think that would be a priceless moment in musical comedy history.
I love those guys – they’re just amazing. Well let’s see – Michael McKean played a miner in an episode of the Weird Al Show… and Christopher Guest and I have the same agency for our directing work… and uh-I’ve MET Harry Shearer… Anyway, I’d jump at the chance to work with any of them.
May Berenbaum of Urbana, IL asks: How is it that the songwriting proceeds of the “Achy Breaky” song came to be donated to the United Cerebral Palsy Association?
Both the writer of “Achy Breaky Heart” and I were a little uncomfortable over the fact that the parody was a little bit, well, mean-spirited. So we thought it would kind of take the edge off of it if we donated all of the songwriting proceeds to a worthy charity.
Weird Ando of Dallas, GA asks: In Young, Dumb, and Ugly, is the line “We’re rebels without a clue” a play on a line from Tom Petty’s song Into The Wide Open (or whatever it’s called), which has the line “A rebel without a clue”?
Actually, I had written “Young, Dumb and Ugly” before I ever heard that Tom Petty song. I thought it was kind of bizarre that Tom Petty used the same phrase in his song.
Adam Clayton of Providence,NC asks: Why did you want the song UHF to sound different on the UHF soundtrack and greatest hits vol 2?
The soundtrack album has the long version, and the greatest hits version has the much shorter “single” version that was remixed specially for the video (MTV generally doesn’t like to play 6 minute videos, and besides, they’re a lot more expensive to make). I just thought fans would appreciate having both versions available.
Tim Howland of Danvers, Ma asks: At concerts, who is the guy that dresses up in the Santa suit and always gets punched, and do you really punch him?
His name is Mongo – he’s our stage manager and much more. And oh yes, I punch him every night. Hard.
Mary(aka Kathy27) of Nowhere, New Jersey asks: On the back of your Polka Party! ALbum, there’s a guy reading a magazine called “Polka World”, is that Frankie Yankovic on the cover?
Yes it is. Good eye.
aaron thomas of niles michigan asks: i was wondering if you were just as mad about the tv album as you were “the food album”
Well, I think the concept of a TV Album is every bit as ridiculous as the concept of a Food Album – but at least the record company was a whole lot nicer when they asked the second time (i.e., more groveling, less demanding). For what it’s worth, I believe the Scotti Bros. used up all their “compilation options” before they sold off my contract to Volcano – so you probably won’t be seeing any more “greatest hits” packages until a reasonable amount of time has gone by.
chucky the magic squirrel of Oakville, Ontario asks: How much O’ the writing on the Weird Al Show and UHF was done by you personally?
Just the funny parts.
Eddie Schmidt of LA,CA asks: Is it true that you were approached to do a theme song for the film “National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1”?
Man, how do you dig up this stuff? Yes, it was offered to me, but they later retracted the offer when they found out that I wanted to get paid for it.
WIT asks: can i sing with you?
Sure, go ahead.
Brian Leahy of North Ridgeville, OH asks: In an early part Al Franken’s book “Why Not Me”, he says that he’d contacted you about posing for the book’s cover – but I don’t see you there. Is there any truth to this statement, or was it just another of the book’s countless jokes?
Al was just joking, as he has been known to do from time to time.
Ian of Rocklin/CA asks: Are you ever coming to California??????
I’m there right now!!!!!!
Anonymous asks: Why didn’t you include “Bite Me” on the OTDE cassette too?
The joke about “Bite Me” (the name we gave to the six seconds of primal screaming at the end of the CD) is that it’s supposed to come on after 10 minutes of silence and scare you to death. Now it’s one thing to use up 10 minutes of time on a CD, but it would be pretty obnoxious to have 10 minutes of blank audio tape, don’t you think?
xavier mackonnella of Oakville, Ontario asks: When you have a stand-up comedian as an opening act, I know they’re usually (always?) local guys, but do you have anything to do with auditioning them, or is that someone else’s job?
It’s always the local promoter who hires the opening act. We have certain guidelines we request that they follow (keep it pretty clean, etc.) – but I rarely know who the opening act is going to be until they’re actually on stage.
Shawn Malenich of Pittsburgh,PA asks: Which one of the 3 stooges do you like the best?
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for April, 1999
Aritania of planet earth asks: How’d you guys take those underwater pictures for “Off the Deep End”?
Oddly enough, we were underwater. In fact, we were in the very same swimming pool (in Pasadena, California) where the cover of Nirvana’s “Nevermind” album was shot (with the swimming baby, remember?) It wasn’t easy – the camera crew had all this scuba gear on, and the guys in the band could only hold their breath for three or four minutes at a time before they started complaining about “needing oxygen.” Sheesh.
Kristen “alhead27” Jacobs of GA asks: After you read your fan mail, what do you do with it?
First of all, it takes me a very long time to actually get around to reading fan mail – but I treasure every letter. I’ve never thrown one away. I have boxes and boxes of them stored away at my parents’ house.
Mike Hadley of Sanibel, Florida asks: Would you like to be a contestant on “Who’s Line Is It Anyway” with Drew Carey? I love that show. I used to watch it when it was only a British show. I think you would be great at the improvs.
Improvisation is certainly a great skill, but unfortunately, one that I don’t have. I went to a taping of that show and was amazed at how quick, sharp-witted and funny everyone was. If they needed to re-take a sketch for any reason, the cast immediately came up with a completely different bit! I have tons of respect for people who can do that, but personally… well, it takes me a really long time to be funny (how long has it been between albums now?)
Justin Crouch of Cahokia, Illinois asks: Whatever happened to the Nash Metropolitan you drove in UHF?
We rented it from some guy locally in Tulsa, so I guess it went back to him! I’ve always loved those cars. If I ever were to own a second car (that didn’t need to get used much), it’d be a turquoise and white late 50’s Metropolitan. Currently, I wouldn’t have room for it in the garage – plus old cars constantly need repairs and restoring, and I certainly don’t have time for another hobby right now!
Dan Shaw of Sutton/MA asks: How come on the back of your first album, it doesn’t mention Jim West in the band, but instead it gives special thanks to him?
I don’t think Jim actually played on the first album – Rick Derringer was doing pretty much all the guitar work in the beginning. However, Jim was playing live with us at the time and he was definitely part of the band, so we felt he should at least get a mention!
May Berenbaum of Urbana, IL asks: Are there any circumstances under which it is proper to write “Weird Al” Yankovic without the quotation marks? What’s the proper punctuation of the possessive case? “Weird Al”‘s?
This is historically what I’ve done: I use quotes when it’s the full name (“Weird Al” Yankovic), but no quotes when it’s just plain Weird Al. So the possessive case would be Weird Al’s.
Pokey of Tuscaloosa, AL asks: When you directed the Jeff Foxworthy videos was he a hoot to work with?
Jeff was terrific, a total professional. He was the first artist I directed (other than myself) and he kind of spoiled me. Always on time, always hit his marks – and believe me, if you’ve ever tried to lip synch to a comedy routine, it’s not easy to do. But Jeff put in the rehearsal time and did a great job.
Spencer of St.Louis, MO asks: You mailed me a picture autographed by you, but I mailed you 2 years ago! Why did it take so long?
These days I’m signing my name reeeeeeeeeeally slow.
Jeff “No Nickname” McClelland of Brownsville, Pa asks: Hiya Al. I was wondering why you never released an “Addicted to Spuds” video. I believe that I saw a clip from it on your Disney special. If you were given permission to create a parody of the song, then why not a video? Thanks… (come to Pittsburgh again soon!)
For one thing, getting permission for an audio recording and getting permission for a video are two different things (we had not secured the “synch rights.”) Secondly, we were somewhat limited in our video budget, so we can’t always do as many videos as we’d like from an album. And perhaps most importantly, I thought that a video for “Addicted To Spuds” would essentially be one joke – and you saw it in the UHF video.
Brett Bayne of Los Angeles, CA asks: What was songwriter Jimmy Webb’s reaction to “Jurassic Park”?
Jimmy was great, and it was a real thrill for me getting to know him. I think he was getting kinda tired of “MacArthur Park” himself – when he heard my parody, he wrote me a letter saying, “Well, this oughta bury that song once and for all!” I wound up actually performing the song with him on stage a couple times – once in New York and once at the Roxy in Los Angeles. He was doing a concert, and near the end of the show he’d launch into “MacArthur Park.” After a couple bars he’d pretend to forget the words… and then he’d call me up out of the audience to sing my version! He was the coolest – he even sent me a rubber dinosaur mask for Christmas that year!
Trev-al of West Hartford,CT asks: In “She Drives Like Crazy,” is that weird voice supposed to be Kermit the Frog’s voice?
I don’t think I was trying to do Kermit – I think I was kinda doing a cross between Dudley Do-right and Peter Puma. (I wound up having trouble trying to match the voice of the lead singer in Fine Young Cannibals, so I decided to make it more cartoony instead.)
Greg Method of Richfield, Ohio asks: Al, I loved your opening sequence to “Spy Hard” (seeing if brown-nosing will get my question answered…), but I must ask did you also edit the “music video” of the theme that was shown on MTV, etc., or was that done entirely by Disney?
Well, it was kind of done by me, but Disney made me make so many changes that I wound up not being very happy at all with it. Just to name one lame thing about it – they made me take out all footage of the silhouetted women swimming in the background, because they were deathly afraid of getting in trouble with the James Bond people. (In case you didn’t know, the opening titles are a direct rip from the James Bond movie “Thunderball” – why Disney had a problem with it in the music video but not in the actual movie is just one of those executive logic things I’ll never understand.)
Rob and Kevin (of Kevin and Rob fame) from Gurnee, IL ask: Do you ever have trouble distinguishing between Bermuda and Ruben?
Not really. Umm, Bermuda’s the one behind the drums, right?
David Wester of St. Louis, Missouri asks: What did you think of the reviews of UHF? I find it funny that the movie was pretty much dismissed at the time, but everyone I know seems to have loved it.
Oh, you find that funny, huh? Well, I can’t say that I went into a depression after the movie came out, but I felt pretty beat up. (Read some of the reviews that came out at that time if you want to know why.) Ten years later, however, I’ve noticed that critics in general are being much kinder to the movie, and it gives me an incredible amount of satisfaction knowing the cult-like status it has achieved with a lot of my fans.
Tony Goldmark of San Francsisco, CA asks: Why did Paul McCartney turn you down to do “Gee I’m A Nerd” even though he’s so supportive of your work?
Paul didn’t turn me down – he just turned the decision over to Yoko, who ultimately decided that she didn’t feel comfortable with my doing a parody of that song (for obvious reasons). In deference to her, we’ve never played that song live if we knew beforehand that she was in the audience.
Brian Siguenza of Cedar Rapids, IA asks: I noticed that David Letterman OR Saturday Night Live were not part of your TV credits – were you ever on either of those shows?
No, not so far – too bad, they’re two of my favorites! (I have been used on those shows numerous times as a pop culture reference, however.)
A person with no name and no residence asks: In the video for “Smells Like Nirvana,” I noticed you “playing” the guitar with your left hand. ARE you left-handed?
No. But Kurt was, and I can fake playing left-handed just as well as I can fake playing right-handed.
Joe & Sandi Peterson of Kit Carson, Co ask: In “Livin’ In The Fridge,” what are you singing in the background vocals (is it “dysentery” or “dis’ the tupperware”)?
What?? Uh, it’s “dysentery.”
Brian Kelly of Kerhonkson, New York asks: I heard somewhere that Joel Hodgson from MST3K was originally supposed to play Philo in “UHF.” How do you think things would be different if he had?
Well, since Philo was an inventor and Joel is famous for cooking up weird gadgets, I probably would have had him come up with a bunch of strange gizmos and doodads for the film. It would have been extremely cool to get Joel, but I’m more than happy with the job Anthony Geary did. (When Anthony Geary came in to read for the part, we were thinking, “Tony Geary? The soap opera guy? Forget it!” But then he did his lines as Philo for us and had us rolling on the floor. He’s really a terrific, underrated actor.)
Troydan Glomk of Clearlake, CA asks: Do you need artists’ permission to mock their videos on AL-TV and AlMusic? (i.e. “Brilliant Disguise,” “Don’t Cry,” “Ironic” etc.)
Welllllll, technically, probably yes… but I never bother on those specials because otherwise it would take me forever to get all the clearances – and forgiveness is a lot easier to get than permission. I can’t believe how much I get away with on those shows (especially on Much Music)! Mostly I just cross my fingers and hope that everyone has a good sense of humor about it. I’m very careful about permissions on my albums, but for a cable special – well, if anybody gets really upset, we’ll just edit their part out the next time it airs.
Peter Perpetua III of Coraopolis, PA asks: Al, from listening to your music and watching your videos it is apparent that you spent a lot of time watching TV while growing up. I would like to know if you liked the show “Lost In Space” and would you ever consider doing a video parody of it?
When I was very young I loved that show – and now I can appreciate it for its ultra-low-budget campiness. Bill Mumy (who played young Will Robinson on that show, and is also half of Barnes & Barnes) is a good friend of mine – you may have seen him as the mailman with a Ph.D. on an episode of The Weird Al Show. As for doing a parody… hmmm, probably not, but I wouldn’t rule anything out.
Thomas Wittenburg of Denmark asks: How come we’ve never really heard of you guys in Denmark?
Oh, don’t you worry. We’ve just been biding our time, slowly and meticulously planning for our huge DENMARK MEDIA BLITZ! Actually, my new record label is very much hoping to establish a stronger presence for me outside of North America once the new album comes out.
Spazz from Midland, Michigan asks: I was looking through some pictures in the gallery when I came across one of you surrounded by your accordions and I was just wondering, why do you have so many?
You know what they say… “You can never be too rich, too thin, or have too many accordions!”
Little Debbie from Rochester,MN asks: Al, where do you get your socks?
From my sock drawer.
David Rossi of Nutley, NJ asks: Darwin, Minnesota’s twine ball weighs 17,400 pounds, or 8.7 tons. Was 21,140 a made up number?
Well, according to the edition of “Roadside America” that I was reading at the time I wrote the song, it was 21,140 pounds. Perhaps it shrunk, or the earth’s gravitational pull has changed since that book came out.
greg gee of columbus twp, michigan asks: I was present at your Roseville Michigan concert at the Ritz bowling alley in August of ’94. I was in the front when your lead guitarist came close for a solo. I untied his shoelace and he saw me do it. I was wondering if he was still ticked off at me about that? Thanx
Oh man, he just won’t stop talking about it. I think you traumatized him for life. (And you’ll notice, we haven’t played a bowling alley since then!)
Al from TN asks: What did you really want to be when you were young?
When I was about four, I used to design miniature golf courses (with a crayon and a big pad of paper). I also thought it would be really cool to be a professional fireworks maker. A few years later I got interested in cartooning, and then I wanted to be a writer for Mad Magazine. When I was 12, a guidance counselor told me to forget about the funny stuff and convinced me to become an architect. And then, around my third year in college, I decided that what I really really wanted to do was to be Weird Al for a living.
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for March, 1999
fred of chgo il asks: In “UHF” in the beginning, when one of the guys pulls out the gun to shoot you, he uses his left hand, but when it’s on the ground, it’s the right hand, can you tell me why that is?
I think we realized the continuity error after we had already shot the footage with the actor – the disembodied arm that the prop guys had supplied didn’t match the arm that our actor was using for the whip. At the time, there wasn’t a whole lot we could do about it. We just rationalized, “Who’s gonna even care about this 10 years from now? Besides Fred, of course.”
Eddie Schmidt of LA,CA asks: What’s happening with the screenplay you wrote prior to the release of “Bad Hair Day”? Is it a “Weird Al” vehicle, or kind of a departure?
I originally wrote the screenplay to be a made-for-Showtime movie, since a friend of mine was producing movies for that cable channel at the time. That deal kinda fell through, and I never thought the movie was really good enough for the big screen, so the script is just gathering dust on my hard drive. The script did have a few pretty funny moments, some of which I adapted and used for my Saturday morning show. (Fred Willard’s “Whack-A-Mole” routine at the “Host Of The Year” awards show was pretty much a direct lift from the screenplay.) My original script had the working title of “Rabid Puppy,” which was also the name of the fictional rock band that the story revolved around.
Mike Farley of South Amboy/NJ asks: Hey Al!! I was wonder if “Alimony” was live or did you just throw in the screaming and yelling?
I was singing it live… in the studio… with a bunch of pre-recorded screaming. Does that count?
Jonathan Campbell of Las Vegas/NV asks: Where you REALLY born in the elevator on the way up to the Maternity Ward like it said in the “almost true rockumentary” THE COMPLEAT AL?
No, that was a joke. It’s always bothered me a little how the facts and the jokes got mixed together in The Compleat/Authorized Al, because I’m sure a lot of fans got confused as to which parts were real and which weren’t.
David Wester of St. Louis, MO asks: I know you don’t want to say much about the parodies on the new album, but can you tell us one song that you WON’T be parodying?
Okay. “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby.
Kyrissa Koch of WOBWORLD and WOWACITY asks: HOW MANY TIMES DID YOU HAVE TO SHOOT THE SCENE FROM “UHF” WHERE THE BOY SPITS AT YOU AND WAS THAT REAL SPIT HANGING OFF YOUR NOSE OR MOVIE MAGIC?
That was an incredible optical effect done by Industrial Light & Magic. A team of experts working around the clock with the latest digital imaging software were able to closely approximate the effect of a little boy spitting in my face. It put us millions of dollars over budget, but it was well worth it, don’t you think?
Oh, you want the real answer? I think we did two takes, and we used the first one, since the kid had better aim. The boy had a real problem keeping a straight face. If you look at him near the end of the shot, you can see him starting to crack up.
Thomas Stanford of Buffalo, NY asks: I’m a huge Transformers fan. I always found it interesting how “Dare to be Stupid” ended up in the middle of it. How did you manage that?
The Transformers soundtrack came out on Scotti Bros., so oddly enough, there were a bunch of Scotti Bros. artists on there. I think I probably got a phone call saying, “Hey, we’re gonna use one of your songs in this movie, if that’s okay with you,” and I probably said, “Sure, why not – hey, how did you get this number?”
Rob and Kevin (of Kevin and Rob Fame) from Gurnee, IL ask: Do you have any naked pictures of your band members?
No. Except for Steve and Rubén, of course.
“Weird Ando” of Dallas, GA asks: In the video for You Don’t Love Me Anymore, what’s that thing that on the golf club. It looks like either a lady’s stocking or a condom or something weird like that. What is it, really?
Well, uh, it’s a condom. Our set decorator was trying to be “funny,” and unfortunately neither Jay Levey or I caught it until it was too late. We both thought it was kind of tasteless and inappropriate, and I don’t believe we ever worked with that guy again.
walter fitch of highland, ny asks: do you still have your jacket from the “eat it” video?
Yes I do. It’s a very heavy leather jacket – I need to use the much lighter vinyl version when I’m on the road. (Hey, anybody got any spares? The vinyl one is on its last legs, and those jackets are hard to find now!) Maybe the leather one will wind up at AlCon some day – I just don’t see myself wearing it around town much.
Tracy Halladay of Brigham City, utah asks: Even though it’s hard to believe, I’ll grant that your long curly hair is the real thing. When you had short hair for the MTV promos did you ever have the urge to get a hair cut?
I actually WAS tempted to get a major haircut, especially after people told me how much “better” I looked in the MTV promos. Thankfully, my hair surgeon Roseanne talked me out of it, reminding me that I don’t really have straight blonde hair, and that if I cut my own hair short, it would look considerably different. So I’ll be a long-haired rock n’ roll hippie freak for a while longer.
Dustin Jablonski of Anderson, IN asks: During a tour where do you find the cheerleaders for “Smells Like Nirvana?”
That’s usually the responsibility of the concert promoter – when anybody books our show, among other things we ask them to supply us with two young, attractive female dancers to use as cheerleaders (ah, the perks of fame!) Sometimes the promoter will get them through a radio promotion, or maybe it’ll be the promoter’s cousins, or maybe it’s someone the promoter met at a club the night before – we never know. All I can say is, if you want to be a cheerleader in our show, your best bet would be to find out who’s promoting it and then dazzle ’em with your pom poms.
Chris of Tiverton, RI asks: My question is now that you’re a vegetarian do you consider the song eat it against your morals because of references to eating spam & chicken?
I also sing about decapitating people, but I don’t advocate that either. I need to stress once again that my songs aren’t autobiographical, and just because the words are coming out of my mouth, it doesn’t mean that I’m expressing my personal views. It’s just a joke, folks.
Psycho Steve of Nampa, Id asks: How did you get into Hawaiian shirts?
One arm at a time, like I still do. (Oh man, I kill me.) Actually, I’ve always had an affinity for really loud clothing, and Hawaiian shirts have always been the most accessible obnoxious clothing around, so they’ve kind of become one of my trademarks.
Matt Hurwitz of Ann Arbor, Michigan asks: Did you co-write the song “Revenge Of The Nerds” with the Rubinoos? I was wondering if this rumour was true.
Hmmm… This is around 1984, so my memory may not be completely accurate – but from what I recall, I was asked to sing the theme song for “Revenge Of The Nerds.” I turned it down, mostly on the grounds that I was being asked to sing somebody else’s song – I figured that if they wanted me singing the theme song to a movie, I should be the one writing it as well. They weren’t open to that, so I passed, and I guess the Rubinoos wound up doing it instead. (What an obscure piece of trivia – where’d you hear that rumor?)
Sue Carlson of South Bend, IN asks: I recently went to the Hard Rock Cafe in Orlando, FL. Luck was with me as I was seated right across from one of your accordions and several Al photos. Did you donate these items to Hard Rock and have you ever been there?
I donated that accordion to the Hard Rock Café in New York City some time around 1985. From what I understand, the Hard Rock memorabilia floats around the world (I think the accordion was in Amsterdam for a while) and now I guess it’s in Orlando. It’s painted like a Hawaiian shirt – it’s quite nice, and I’m a little sorry I gave it away. I haven’t visited it in a while, but from what I understand, it’s sharing a corner of the restaurant with some memorabilia from my pal Judy Tenuta.
the great Luke Ski of Kansas City, MO asks: Was the “backwards” scene at the end of the “Amish Paradise” video meant to be a parody of that video by “the Pharcyde” in which the whole video was filmed and lip synced backwards, or was that just a coincidence (Or perhaps you did it in homage to “Top Secret”)?
I didn’t learn about the Pharcyde video until after I did “Amish Paradise.” I was also later made aware of a video by Steve Vai where he does some cool backwards stuff. I was a little bummed, because I was hoping that I’d be the first one to do it in a music video. (Well, at least I was the first one to do it with Amish people!) And you’re right, the movie “Top Secret” may have been an influence – I’ve always been amazed by that scene in the Swedish bookshop.
Gregory Gillen of Maumee, OH asks: Is “Trigger Happy” a full-out Beach Boys style parody, or is it just a generic surfer rock style parody?
It’s mostly meant to be the Beach Boys, but I think there’s a little Jan & Dean thrown in. I listened to both groups while I was writing the song.
Joel Mapes of Westland, Michigan asks: During the making of the “RICKY” video, did you film the scenes with your long hair and mustache first, or were you wearing a wig?
Right the first time. I shot my scenes as myself first (using a stand-in double for Ricky Ricardo), and then did the transformation into Ricky for the rest of the day.
stabbim of Salt Lake City UT asks: You have stated before that you never learned to play guitar. Considering that you get sole writing credit on the original tunes, how do you work out the parts for heavily guitar-based originals like ‘Young Dumb & Ugly’? Do you figure out the parts yourself on keyboard then have Jim transpose them, or do you just lay out the basic idea of the song and he takes it from there?
When I submit my demos to the band, all the music is played on a keyboard. The chords and melody lines and main riffs are all there, but not being a guitar player myself, I wouldn’t dream of writing out the solos, since Jim could come up with something so much better than anything I could suggest. I’ll work with him in the studio until his solo has just the right feel, or I may have him do several solos and then piece together the best bits later. In short, I try to give the guys in the band as much musical leeway as possible in the studio, but it’s still not really enough to warrant giving them their own writing credits. (Sorry, guys!)
Will of North Branch, Minnesota asks: In the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion video that you directed, who’s idea was it for you to appear in the video, yours or the band’s?
The Blues Explosion insisted on having me in the video, and who am I to argue with them? They also had considered Dick Van Patten and Mike D. from the Beastie Boys, but since I was already directing the video, I happened to be the most available at the time.
Tony Goldmark of SF, CA asks: Did you notice that in episode 3607 of The Weird Al Show, the Hooded Avenger’s party hat is on his head in one frame, and in the next frame he’s holding it in his hand?
That, my friend, is just one of his many super powers.
Jared R of Coram, NY asks: Are there any “secret tracks” on any of your albums?
Yes. On “Off The Deep End,” there’s a secret track called “Airline Amy.” Shhhh, don’t tell anybody.
Rainbow Heron of Sumter, SC asks: What is the craziest thing that you and the band have done at/to a hotel while y’all were on tour?
We cleaned our rooms before the maid got there.
Ross Edward Rogers of Howell, NJ asks: “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” has been following the Clinton Crisis since the beginning. Every so often, they have a sketch called “The President… In Crisis”. During the graphic, they always show a picture of the President, of Monica Lewinski, and then a third picture of somebody who has nothing to do with the whole situation. Recently, YOUR picture was that third picture. What did you think of that ? <laugh>
I’m proud to have had nothing to do with that whole situation.
The Pokemaster of Glen Burnie, MD asks: Hey Al…I saw you playing on Pictionary once. What was it like?
Hey, you know how it is… Any excuse to hang out with Alan Thicke.
Casey Andersen of Nibley/Utah asks: Are you dating anyone serious right now?
No. Everyone I’m dating is kinda goofy.
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for February, 1999
“Weird Ando” of Dallas, GEORGIA, NOT TEXAS asks: In “Phony Calls”, where you sing about calling a guy in Japan, some dude starts talking in what I guess is Japanese. Does what he say mean anything?
His name is Gen, and yes, he is speaking real Japanese. I can’t tell you exactly what he said, but I told him to ad-lib something to the effect of “Why are you calling me? Are you crazy or something?”
Ron Murray of Northbrook, IL asks: Did you ever make a video for “Taco Grande”? I remember at least thinking I saw one on MTV when “Off the Deep End” was new, and I just KNOW it was you singing “Let me give you a tip; just try a nacho chip/It’s really good with bean dip.”
What I believe you saw was an AL-TV where I just took the original “Rico Suave” video by Gerardo and substituted my own music. I’ve done that trick a few times – it’s an ultra-cheap but somewhat effective way for me to get more album tracks heard on MTV!
Drew Stern of MD asks: Have you ever dated any well known (female) celebrities?
About ten years ago I was involved with singer Nicolette Larson, who, I’m very sad to say, passed away about a year ago. I also very briefly dated Terri Nunn (from the group Berlin), Laraine Newman (from SNL) and yes, during her hiatus between marriages, Victoria Jackson.
May Berenbaum of Urbana, IL asks: How and when did you meet Jay Levey?
Jay Levey used to manage Dr. Demento some time ago. When the good Doctor asked me to come along and perform at some of his live appearances (around 1981), Jay heard me and was impressed. (Mind you, at the time I was up on stage by myself with just an accordion, so he’s pretty easily impressed.) Some time later, when relations with my previous manager had soured, I asked Jay to help me out, and he’s been garnishing a huge chunk of my income ever since.
Tracy Halladay of Brigham City, Utah asks: In the end of your video Amish Paradise, you filmed it while doing everything in reverse. Was that as difficult as it looks?
It took a lot of concentration and planning – I had to phonetically memorize the chorus of the song backwards, then sing it to a backwards music track while walking backwards across a field being crisscrossed by live farm animals. When I fell backwards at the end of the shot, I just had to hope that I wasn’t going to miss the pile of hay that had been set there for me. Actually, singing the lyrics backwards wasn’t so difficult – the hardest part of it all was getting the animals to hit their marks. (The producer kept trying to talk me out of doing the shot, because he wasn’t sure it was going to work at all!)
Chris Reichert of Yucca Vally Ca. asks: Why did you dislike making the Food Album?
I was just very upset at the time over the fact that Scotti Bros. was putting out this cheesy compilation against my wishes and better judgment. They needed to make a certain amount of money that fiscal quarter, and they wanted a new Weird Al album, no matter what. Their original concept for the album was even worse… They wanted to call it “Al Unplugged” – with me holding a bunch of unplugged kitchen appliances on the cover – but it wouldn’t be a live recording, just a remix of the studio versions of the songs with most of the electronic instruments missing. I managed to talk them out of it, and into just doing “The Food Album,” a concept I hated only slightly less.
Kyle A. Carrozza of Philadelphia, PA asks: What was it like working with Billy West?
Billy’s great, and a total pro. I’d met him many years ago in Boston at BCN, and I’d been a big fan of his work on “Ren & Stimpy.” When he came in to audition for us, he blew everyone else out of the water. He had us in stitches. Billy’s always got a funny story to tell, and besides being the best comic voice-over artist in the business, he’s just a really sweet guy.
Dave Rossi of Nutley NJasks: Al, I dressed as you for Halloween. 99.27% of the people recognized me as you. The other people… I don’t know what planet they were from. So, now I wonder, was it just my costume, or do people ever confuse you for Howard Stern?
Well, yeah, on occasion. I get Howard Stern, Kenny G, and on my off days, sometimes even Gallagher (“Hey, man, I love it when you smash them watermelons!”)
Jimmy Bonomo of New York City, CA asks: What’s the real story behind you jumping up on stage with Too Much Joy?
A few years ago I went to a Too Much Joy concert at a club on the Sunset Strip. Since I was a big fan of the group, I was right in front of the stage, jumping up and down and singing along. The bass player noticed me and reached out his hand. I thought he wanted a handshake, but he pulled me right up on stage with him. From what I remember, I sang the next song with the band (I believe I might have had my leg behind my head for part of it)… and the lead singer got so jealous of all the attention I was getting from the crowd that he stripped completely naked right on stage!
PaulFifier & David Grant of Kent, Ohio ask: I first want to state that I have been an avid fan ever since I knew who you were and remember hearing your songs even before that. Do you still get star struck when you run into celebrities even though you are a star?
I do get a little nervous, especially if it’s somebody whose work I really admire. But I only get really starstruck when I meet somebody that I idolized as a kid (like Paul McCartney).
Lizzy of St. Paul MN asks: Do you drink coffee?
I’m trying not to get hooked, but currently my drug of choice is a tall soy caramel macchiato at Starbuck’s.
Sabrina Khan of Coral Springs, Fl asks: When did you take those pictures on your web page? You know, the ones on top!!!
The one in the middle was taken in ’93, the one on the left was taken in ’96, and the rest were digital camera pictures taken last year.
Tim Murphy of North Bergen/New Jersey asks: I remember seeing you when I was a lad of 4 or 5 on Turkey TV, but no one I talk to remembers it. It isn’t even listed on this site. So, my question to you is, am I crazy??? Did Turkey TV exist??? And if so, were you on it??? Please, for the love of god answer this question.
I vaguely remember it myself – I’m pretty sure it was some kind of show on Nickelodeon. You might want to ask on the newsgroup.
Kee-li B. of Eddystone,PA asks: What do you do if you suddenly have to go to the bathroom while you’re performing on stage?
I at least wait until I’m in the Fat costume.
Lee of Ft Myers, Fl asks: Why don’t you wear those velvet pants anymore?
You mean those crazy-quilt pants from the back cover of my first album? Well, even though they’re still the height of fashion, they’re heavy and HOT. Especially on stage. So now, they’re just a cherished museum piece.
Jeremiah of South Paris, Maine asks: One of my absolute favorite songs of yours is “Everything You Know Is Wrong”. Was the title at all inspired by the Firesign Theatre album of the same title?
Yes, which is why the Firesign Theatre is thanked in the liner notes.
Joe Tussing of Escanaba, MI asks: If you have several parodies that you have written and recorded but not enough space to put all of them on the album how do you decide which cuts make it and which don’t?
I don’t think I’ve ever recorded more songs than I had room for on an album – every song that I record makes it on. (It usually costs several thousand dollars to record a song, so I try not to waste any!)
jeremy lundahl of andover/M.N. asks: have you ever lost your voice when you’re in a concert?
Not so much lately, but on some early tours I had to croak my way through a few shows with total laryngitis. I try to take better care of my voice on the road now.
Eddie Schmidt of LA, CA asks: Who played the sweaty, Elvis Costello-looking guy that laughed maniacally during the “sexy” videos on the old AL-TVs? And where is he today?
That was John Paragon, reprising his “Breather” character from Elvira’s TV show. You might remember him as Jombi the Genie in PeeWee’s Playhouse or R.J. Fletcher’s weaselly son Richard in UHF – he’s a very funny guy. Lately he’s been directing (“Silk Stalkings”) and continuing to act (he was featured in one of the last Seinfeld episodes).
Keelie Brilliott of Baraboo, WI asks: Did you need permission to have the Flintstones cartoon on your show (I think the episode was “Talent Show”)?
Absolutely. We needed Hanna-Barbera’s full cooperation. Luckily, we were able to kill two birds with one stone by hiring Hanna-Barbera do to the animation for us! Not only did we have the Flintstone’s original animation company, but we got the actual voice actors who played Fred and Wilma to do the sketch! It was very exciting for me. That one piece of animation went way, way over budget – our show producer was having a coronary over it – but it’s still one of my very favorite bits in the whole series.
Brent Zebell of Goshen/Indiana asks: Do you have any tattoos on your body if you don’t I think that you should get a potato on your leg that would make you the best ever well thanks! bye
Well, I don’t have any tattoos right now… but… you say I’d be the best ever? Well… okay, I guess I better get that potato tattoo!
Tiffany Dykstra of Camarillo, Ca asks: Are there any episodes of the Weird Al Show that were written, but never filmed?? How many??
It didn’t quite work that way – there was always a storyline for each episode, but also a lot of mixing and matching done in the editing room. When we did a “Channel Hopping” bit, we were never exactly sure which show it was going to wind up in. Having said that, we developed 13 shows and shot them all – but there were a number of commercials and bits (and even an entire Fatman episode!) that for one reason or another got shot down before they could be filmed. I was particularly fond of a Fred Huggins show I wrote where Papa Boolie and Baby Boolie decide to end it all in a grisly double suicide (for some reason, the censors didn’t think it was all that funny).
Satchmo of Northampton, MA asks: Did you and David Bowe (Bob from UHF) have to do a lot of practicing/takes do perfect the grape throwing scene in UHF?
We were hanging around the craft services table when David showed me his uncanny ability to catch grapes in his mouth from across the room. That bit wasn’t written into the script, but I liked it and we did the whole scene that way. We only did a couple takes, and David didn’t miss once.
Benjamin Davidson of Georgetown, PA asks: That eyeball chair you had on the show, was that specially made for you or did you buy that from a store that anybody could get it from?
What, you haven’t seen those at Ikea? Actually, that eyeball chair – and virtually everything else on the Weird Al show set – was designed by Wayne White, the gentleman who also did much of the design for PeeWee’s Playhouse.
Tony “I can play 27 accordions at the same time” of SF, CA asks: Did you write “Cut The Grief” or did Richard Belzer? (Or did you do it together?)
Actually, neither one of us had anything to do with the writing. We had both agreed to be part of the first Comic Relief special, and the producers paired us together – I’m assuming the song was written by someone on the show’s writing staff. Richard’s a very funny guy, but, well, he’s not exactly a rapper – and I was kind of having an off night myself – so I declined the offer to have the live performance of that song on the Comic Relief soundtrack.
Matthew Strain of Queensland asks: Why does it say “GILLIGAN’S ISLAND THEME, Lyrics Courtesy of Sherwood Schwartz” On the BHD lyrics for Amish Paradise?
Lyrics from the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song – written by Mr. Schwartz – are quoted in the bridge of “Amish Paradise” (“No phone, no lights, no motorcar, not a single luxury…”) If those lyrics don’t sound immediately familiar, it’s because they were only heard over the show’s closing credits.
(unknown) from daytona /fl asks: Were you guys just a”local” band when you started?
No, we’ve always been from somewhere else.
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for January, 1999
Aaron Cooper of Downs, Kansas asks: Hey, Al! Being a big fan of both UHF and Seinfeld, I was just naturally curious if Michael Richards (of “Kramer” fame) was the first choice to play Stanley Spadowski. And if not, who was?
Michael was my first choice and I wrote the part of Stanley with him in mind, although Jay and I also briefly considered Christopher Lloyd, who had much more marquee value at the time due to his starring role in the “Back To The Future” movies. I’m really glad Michael got the part, though – as much as I like Christopher Lloyd, nobody can pull off physical comedy like Michael Richards.
OpalCat of Reston, VA asks: Have you ever been approached to do product endorsements (or have you done any?)?
I was in a Diet Coke commercial in 1984. I’ve been approached by various advertising agencies to do commercials a few times since, but turned them down because I didn’t feel comfortable endorsing their product.
Frank P Skinner of New Westminster, British Columbia asks: Are your recent albums (post-“Even Worse”) available on vinyl LP?
The last album of mine available on vinyl was the UHF Soundtrack, released in 1989. In case you’re wondering, no, I’ve never had an album released on 8-track or Edison cylinder.
Tony Goldmark of San Francisco, CA asks: What is your new years resolution?
Dan Klitzing of San Luis Obispo, CA asks: I was surprised to learn that you were an Architecture major at Cal Poly, SLO. How did you get involved with KCPR, and were you involved in the Music Department at all? Thanks — and oh, which dorm hall did you live in?
Hey, that’s three questions! Well, since you’re from SLO Town, I guess I’ll put up with it just this once. I got involved with KCPR by passing a test for my FCC license and applying for a shift on the station. I wasn’t involved with the Music Department at all, except for one bogus Beginning Piano class that I took purely as an easy credit so I could graduate. And I lived in Sierra Madre, Tower 4 on the 3rd floor. I went back there after my concert at Cal Poly in ’97, and the dorm residents kinda freaked out. It was fun.
Dean A. Beckstein of South Lyon, MI asks: In the video “Eat It”, I have heard rumors that the guitar solo was done by Eddie Van Halen. Is this true, or is someone just pulling my chain?
Eddie did the guitar solo for Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” The solo in “Eat It” was done by my then-producer Rick Derringer.
Lizzy of St. Paul, MN asks: What’s your favorite restaurant?
I’ve got a number of favorites in the L.A. area – I like the Gardens of Taxco (Mexican food), Toi (Thai food), and especially Real Food Daily, a completely vegetarian restaurant in which I am an investor. I’m also very partial to Indian and Italian food.
Brandon W. Horton of Fieldale, VA asks: What’s your vision? (Mine’s 20/120)
Prior to my eye surgery, it was about 20/1000, but now it’s 20/15 (a little better than 20/20!)
Archbishop Jason Polland of Santa Barbara, CA asks: Your first album is one of my favorites because, yes, the accordion is prevalent on every track. Subsequent albums only have accordion in the polkas… Why did you choose to downplay the instrument? (I’m not trying to criticize or anything, I’m just genuinely curious about your creative processes.)
Nowadays, I only use it on original songs where I feel an accordion is appropriate, and on parody songs where I feel an accordion is extremely inappropriate (for comic effect)… and of course, on the polka medleys. I’m not really downplaying the accordion at all – I usually feature the accordion on three or four songs every album, which is three or four more accordion-based songs than most Top 40 albums have!
Eddie Schmidt of LA,CA asks: Have you ever turned down any acting roles because they didn’t jibe with your style and/or sense of humor?
Yes, on occasion I get offered acting roles that are either a little off-base or WAY off-base. I briefly had an agent that sent me out for pretty much any role that he could find. He got really excited one day because he thought he could get me a guest spot on “L.A. Law”…as a hot-tempered short-order fry cook who sexually molests retarded women. You know, as much as I’d like to expand as an actor, I thought that was juuuust a little too much of a stretch for me.
Alex Blundale of firewater, utah asks: Have you ever taken drugs?
Nothing serious. Just aspirin, Tylenol and Flintstones chewable vitamins.
Eric Summerer of Kalamazoo, MI asks: Do you think there is any chance that a record company/song artist will change their mind and let you record any of those concert-only songs? In other words, will The Rembrandts let you do “Theme from Home Improvement” when “Friends” loses popularity?
The Rembrandts had okayed that parody – the problem was with the producers of the “Friends” TV show, who said that they didn’t want their theme song to get “overexposed.” (Ha ha.) As far as waiting for the show to lose popularity, what would be the point of doing it then?
gene ward of corpus christi tx asks: what inspired you to write the yule classic “the night santa went crazy” which is the favorite weird al song of me and all my friends.
That song was inspired by a Christmas card given to me one year by Mark Osborne, one of the directors of the Jurassic Park video. I used the art work from that card as the cover of the CD single for “The Night Santa Went Crazy.”
Erik “AL”len Williams of Centralia,IL asks: I am very interested in becoming a vegan (a vegetarian at least). Can you give me any advice?
Don’t eat meat.
Ken Miller of Philadelphia, PA asks: Way back in 1985, you showed a video on AlTV by a group called “Pancreas Joe and the Eskimo Leftists.” I love that song and I’ve been obsessed with it since then – who was this group, and did they ever put out an album?
I don’t think so – they’re about as obscure as they come. Their song “ Guitar” was, from what I remember, a video on MTV’s “Basement Tapes” show (where people send in their own videos hoping to be discovered). I discovered them – but apparently Pancreas Joe Fever never caught on.
Keith Jambura of Orlando, Florida asks: What inspired you to create a children’s educational program?
When we first set out to pitch a TV show, it wasn’t necessarily going to be a Saturday Morning Kid’s Show – I just wanted to do some free-wheeling sketch comedy. But in Network TV Land, we always got the warmest response from the people in Children’s Programming. As far as having an educational show – that was kind of an 11th hour addition. CBS was very interested in our show, but they were only buying educational programming – so we promised we’d make it educational for them. So, to actually get a TV show on the air, we had to compromise, appease the censors, take notes from advisors, change a lot of stuff around… and eventually we wound up with something considerably different than what we originally wanted. Gee, guess that’s never happened before in television, huh?
Clint Porter of Indianapolis, Indiana asks: Why did you rerecord “My Bologna”, “Gotta Boogie”, “Happy Birthday”, and several other of the original singles for the first album?
Somehow, we thought those songs might sound better recorded in a professional 24-track studio than they did when they were recorded in a bathroom or garage.
Erin Bradley of East Lansing, Michigan asks: Do you have bodyguards with you when you go out? (Not planning on stalking you, just curious!)
No, nobody that I know of wants to beat me up.
Stephen M. Vincent of Flint, Michigan asks: Back in ’87 when you opened for the Monkees, I gave you a banner, made from a bedsheet, inscribed “Al rocks the universe.” What did you do with it? Can I have it back?
I’ve been sleeping in it all this time. You really want it back? Well… ohhhhkay.
Kyle A. Carrozza of Philadelphia, PA asks: How did you decide on DNA productions to do the Fat Man cartoons?
I really enjoyed the animation on their reel – they had a very dark and unusual sense of humor. Plus, they were a “hands-on” kind of company – they did everything in-house, as opposed to sending the animation overseas to Korea and hoping it came back making some kind of sense. Also, they were enthusiastic, they were eager to work with me, and they came in with a very competitive bid.
Dave Rossi of Nutley NJ asks: If you were going to the beach and could only bring one item in addition to your swimsuit, what would that item be?
My car keys.
Brandon of Chatsworth/CA asks: Did you have any pets when you were a kid if so what kind and what were their names
I had a dog named China, kind of a black and white spotted mongrel terrier. I got him when I was five and he went to doggie heaven when I was in college.
Jesse Glacken of Freeport, NY asks: What’s the most unusual object a fan has ever asked you to autograph?
One of my albums.
Jeff Mohney (aka: Smooth Noodle Maps) of Pittsburgh PA asks: When you played in Pittsburgh in 96 the crowd was exactly as I expected or always wanted for an AL show. But I guess there was a lot of complaints about the behavior with the stage diving and such. The next year there was more security than I’ve seen when the Pres came to town. Which show did you prefer or your reactions to the 96 show? Also where there any other concerts that were as wild as the 96 BHD show in Pittsburgh?
That show in Pittsburgh had the wildest audience I can ever remember having – I’d never seen people moshing to a polka medley before. But as much as I love to see an audience get pumped up and go crazy, it’s never worth it if people are getting hurt, and I think that was the case that evening – which is why security had to keep things a bit more toned down the next time.
Brian Kosich of Poway, CA asks: Did you ever do a slow parody called, “It’s a Gas.” I got a CD in a mad magazine with that song on it and then I saw it on your list of songs on tours. Did you do the mad magazine cd.
No, I didn’t do the CD – but “It’s a Gas” was one of my favorites when I was a kid listening to Dr. Demento. (By the way, it’s neither slow nor a parody. It’s an up-tempo instrumental artistically punctuated with belches.) My band actually did perform it on stage on occasion many years ago – primarily as a way to kill time during my costume changes (for those daylight shows where we couldn’t show films).
Tony Bologna of San Francisco, CA asks: What was it like working with The Ramones?
Even though I was in the Ramones’ video for “Something To Believe In,” they weren’t on the set the same time as me, so I don’t really feel like I actually worked “with” them – but I’ve always been a fan, and it was an honor to be included in their video. By the way, Joey Ramone called me at home a while back just to tell me how much he enjoyed the Weird Al Show. Apparently he’s a big fan of Harvey’s.
Brandon W. Horton of Fieldale, VA asks: Do you have obsessive-compulsive tendencies like so many other absolute geniuses?
No, absolutely not. No, absolutely not. No, absolutely not. No, absolutely not. No, absolutely not. No, absolutely not. No, absolutely not. No, absolutely not. No, absolutely not. No, absolutely not. No, absolutely not. No, absolutely not. No, absolutely not. No, absolutely not. No, absolutely not. No, absolutely not. No, absolutely not. No, absolutely not. No, absolutely not. No, absolutely not. No, absolutely not. No, absolutely not. No, absolutely not. No, absolutely not. No, absolutely not. No, absolutely not. No, absolutely not.
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for December, 1998
Owen Lars, 2 of Tally, FL asks: What kind of computer do you have? (assuming you have one…)
This year I got a 400 MHz Pentium II with a bunch of fun but unnecessary goodies (like a 16 Gig hard drive). I still do my music sequencing on my old 486, though, and my laptop is a nearly-as-archaic Pentium 75.
Kevin Weaver of Joppa Maryland asks: I really want the song “School Cafeteria,” but I can’t find the “My Bologna” single, because it’s too old. Where can I find it?
The “My Bologna” single is nearly impossible to find nowadays – in certain collector’s circles it’s probably going for, oh, two or three bucks, easy. However, if you’d like to own a rare live version of “School Cafeteria,” there’s one on the Demento Society CD that’s coming out this month.
Tim Montgomery of Decatur/Il asks: Why wasn’t “Girls Just Wanna Have Lunch” on the Food Album?
There is a “royalty ceiling” on parodies for each album (meaning there are only so many parodies I can put on each album before it starts eating into my own profits), and I needed to eliminate a song from the list, so I chose “Girls Just Wanna Have Lunch.” That song has never been one of my favorites, mostly because I was basically forced to do it. For some reason, my record label was dead-set against releasing the “Dare To Be Stupid” album unless I had a Cyndi Lauper parody on it. I grudgingly obliged them – and that was pretty much the last time they told me what to put on an album.
matt strain of nambour, qld, australia asks: Who was that guy behind you in the “River” video?
I think his name was Craig – he worked at Digital Domain, which oddly enough was the post-production facility that did a lot of effects for “Titanic.” He was not an actor – he was cast because he bore a passing resemblance to Bill Paxton’s bearded sidekick in the movie.
Londo of Santa Rita, Guam asks: What made you decide to have LASIK and where did you have it done? (I’m currently considering the procedure myself)
I’d heard from a number of people that the LASIK eye surgery was quick, simple and painless – and I figured it would be cool not to have to depend on glasses the rest of my life to see things. The operation was performed (on live TV!) by Dr. Robert Maloney at the UCLA Jules Stein Eye Clinic.
Stacy of Louisville, Ky asks: Do you like Barenaked Ladies?
Yes, very much. And I’m a big fan of the band, too.
Jordan Cooper of NY/NY asks: I was wondering if you saw the parody of you on Mr. Show a few weeks ago? It involved a song called “Superstar,” and then it showed a Weird Al-Look-a-like doing a parody of it called “Sushi Bar.”
I saw that, and got a kick out of it. Bob Odenkirk (one of the stars of HBO’s “Mr. Show”) and I go back a long ways. In fact, he was one of the people that I brainstormed with when we were developing the Weird Al Show a few years ago. (I remember, among other things, he came up with the names for Fred Huggin’s puppets, Papa Boolie and Baby Boolie.) He and his co-star David Cross work out of a place called Dakota North, which is also where I had my production offices for the BHD videos – so I used to bump into them a lot and hear them through the walls as they tossed ideas around.
Eric Summerer of Kalamazoo, MI asks: I seem to recall you competing against the guy who played The Incredible Hulk on an episode of Family Double Dare several years back. Who won?
I kicked his big green butt!
Lizzy of St. Paul, MN asks: Why are there two slightly different versions of the music video for This is the Life?
I don’t remember exactly why, but apparently there was some kind of legal problem with us using footage from “Johnny Dangerously” in the “Compleat Al” video, so we cut a shorter version of “This Is The Life” using stock footage in its place. Fortunately, we were able to secure the rights to use the original footage by the time the “Video Library” was released.
murray boyer of calgary ab asks: In the song Jurassic Park, is it the T-rex or the lawyer who isn’t “all bad”?
I left that ambiguous on purpose – so you can make up your own mind about that!
Dave Rice of Friesland, WI asks: Whose decision was it to make UHF rated PG-13?
Well, it was the Motion Picture Board. They told us the movie was too violent, and that they would change it to a PG if we were to remove the scenes with Emo getting his thumb chopped off and Raul throwing poodles out the window. Those were two of my favorite scenes, so I refused, and the movie stayed PG-13.
Mark Klooster of Mason City, IA asks: What is your favorite horror movie?
I really liked “The Shining,” “An American Werewolf In London,” “Evil Dead II” and “Carrie”… but the most frightening thing I’ve ever seen is “The Care Bears Movie.” I still have trouble sleeping.
Michelle Paterala of Kalamazoo, MI says: I was pleased to see the photo of you with Alice Cooper in the gallery. I am a great fan of both of you and was hoping you would tell me if you are a fan of his as well, and what it was like to meet him.
I still remember how excited I was as a teenager, sitting in back of a huge arena watching Alice Cooper through a pair of cheap binoculars. So you can imagine what a thrill it was when Alice showed up at MY show in Arizona last year and sat in the front row with his family! (During “One More Minute” I threw my underwear in his face!) I’ve always been a big fan – his theatrical stage shows have influenced not only my own live act, but every big-budget, high-production-value rock ‘n roll show since.
Jeremy Brettholtz of Poughkeepsie, NY asks: Have you ever considered doing a duet with anybody?
Back when Frank Sinatra was still around and doing his “Duets” albums, I asked him if he would do a duet with me on MY album – maybe do a new version of “One More Minute” or something. (Hey, it doesn’t hurt to ask.) Well, guess what. He said no.
Aaron Husk of Fayette, Alabama asks: Is there any permission you need for your polka medleys like for your parodies?
Yes and no. In principle I don’t need permission, but if I paid everybody their full royalty rate for songs in the medley, I would wind up LOSING money on each album! So each and every songwriter needs to agree to only take their rightful share of the royalties (meaning, if a Green Day song takes up 11% of the medley, then Green Day will only get 11% of the songwriting royalties for that one song). We can’t make exceptions because it’s a “favored nations” deal, meaning that if one person gets the full amount, EVERYBODY gets the full amount. Obviously, a whole lot of artists have been good sports about this – but it’s a mountain of paperwork every time I do a medley.
Noob McMaD of Hinckley (UK) asks: I can’t find any of your albums here in England. Why aren’t they released over here? (Every one I know who has heard the albums a friend got while in the US wants a copy but can’t find one).
Scotti Bros. never had much of a presence overseas – I don’t believe “Bad Hair Day” even got officially released in Australia or in Europe, which is a real shame. However, Volcano (my new label) seems intent on broadening my fan base worldwide, so hopefully they’ll be putting some effort into finally giving proper releases to those albums internationally.
Rainbow Heron of Sumter, SC asks: Has any totally obsessed fan ever sent you a marriage proposal? (I know someone once asked you to be their Prom date…)
Actually, a surprising percentage of the “Ask Al” questions I get are marriage proposals. Yeah, like that does ME a lot of good! Come ON, people! I need pictures! I need resumes! Send all correspondence to “Marriage Proposals, c/o Close Personal Friends Of Al, 8033 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90046.”
Frank Roggenkamp of South Huntington/ NY asks: Did you know that they were discussing you on the Oct. 17th episode of Saturday Night Live? If you did, how did you feel about it?
I always enjoy being a pop culture reference. (And it was nice to know what a big influence I’ve been on Puff Daddy!)
Sharon, the bird monger woman of Beautiful Downtown Phelan, California asks: I know that you are a true perfectionist. Does it bother you to see yourself grab your jacket prior to “Lucy’s” grabbing of your sleeve as you exit the door to go to “THE CLUB” ? Your face certainly does not show it, but you discreetly grab your shoulder. Sorry, I noticed it. I will now gouge out my eyes. (sharon, the french huguenot, with no life!)
You caught that, huh? I think we were on our 5th or 6th take, and every time Tress MacNeille tried to pull off my sleeve, it wouldn’t come off right – and each time the sleeve would have to be sewn back on by hand. As you can imagine, this was very time-consuming, and we were a no-budget production, so finally the director just told me to grab my jacket a certain way during the next take so that the sleeve would come all the way off. Yeah, it looks kinda stupid – but we figured, hey, 15 years later, who’s gonna care?
Mike Anino of Rancho Cordova, California asks: What was it like wearing a cabbage on your head for that one episode of “Amazing Stories”?
It was pretty fun. The cabbage makeup was applied by Kevin Yagher, who I later hired to do the special effects for the “Fat” video. Once I was in makeup (it took three or four hours to put it on), I was a cabbage all day (and it took a good week or so to shoot the episode – it was one of the most expensive half-hour shows ever made at that time). Sometimes if I wasn’t needed for a shot for a while, I would leave Universal Studios (where we were filming) and wander up and down Lankershim Boulevard in full cabbage makeup, just to watch traffic screech to a halt. The only bad part I remember about the costume was that there were two tiny light bulbs next to my nose in order to light up my eyes behind my green-tinted glasses. They were pretty uncomfortable, and I didn’t find out till later that they were actually starting to burn holes in my nose!
David Rasmussen of Kenyon Mn asks: So how was working with the Machoman Randy Savage like.
He was great. Actually, he almost bailed out on us at one point – after agreeing to do the show, his manager called up to cancel his appearance, saying that Randy was having second thoughts. I called up Randy personally to see what the problem was. Randy told me that he didn’t think it was good for his “Machoman” image to get beaten up by Harvey the Wonder Hamster. I told him as reassuringly as I could that I seriously didn’t think his fans would really believe that he got his butt kicked by a hamster. After a bit of cajoling, he agreed once again to be on the show. At the end of the conversation, he asked, dead-serious: “Uh… by the way, it’s not a girl hamster, is it?” I said no, Harvey was a manly, manly hamster all the way. Randy came on the show the next week and was a terrific sport.
Patrick Nickelson of Warren, Oregon asks: Did you enjoy being on Drew Carey and are you friends with him?
Drew and I have been hanging out on occasion – he’s a very, very cool guy. It was a lot of fun doing his show, too – the cast and crew are all great. I remember I happened to be clean-shaven at the time, and the producers insisted that I wear a fake mustache and glasses for the show. It was bizarre – I felt like I was wearing a Weird Al Halloween costume or something. I also got a kick out of jamming with Joe Walsh and the James Gang (I played with them at rehearsal, but the producers decided that it would be better if they just played by themselves during the closing credits).
Tifany Dykstra of Camarillo, CA asks: When u did the Weird Al Show, did u get to meet Jay Leno? I mean, studio one is right next door to the Jay Leno studio.
Yes, since we shared a common hallway, I bumped into Jay a few times. I think he was a little skittish around me, because I was always trying to corral him into coming on my show. In fact, I think the whole Tonight Show staff was getting peeved at us, because we always tried to steal their guests. Now that I think of it, I believe that’s how I first met Drew Carey (“Hey, Drew, as long as you’re here, you wanna come next door and stick your head in a box?”)
Eddie Schmidt of LA,CA asks: How did you wind up doing a cameo as “Random Dressing Room Guy” in the independent film, “Nothing Sacred”?
I was visiting a friend in San Francisco, and I was just killing time walking down the street when I ran into comic Paul Provenza. I asked him what he was up to, and he told me he was shooting a low-budget feature inside the clothing shop that we happened to be standing in front of. He asked me if I wanted to do a cameo in it, and I said sure, why not, I’ve got some time to kill. I put on some ugly shirt that they had, and they filmed me walking out of a dressing booth. One take, that was it. I still haven’t seen the movie.
Kristen “alhead27” Jacobs of GA asks: When you found out Frankie Yankovic died on Oct 15, what was your first reaction?
Somebody called me that morning – woke me up – and said, “I’m sorry to hear your dad died.” Well, that gave me a good jolt. Obviously, I was happy to find out that my real dad was all right, but sad about Frankie. He was a legend, and a friend, and I’ll miss him very much.
Archbishop Jason Polland of Santa Barbara, CA asks: Hi Al! I read that you own a midi accordion. As an accordion player and electronic musician, that’s a very exciting instrument to me! Have you used it in any previous works, and do you plan to use it in any upcoming projects? (Come on, don’t let it sit around collecting dust!)
I used it on the road for the Bad Hair Tour – it’s the red one that I play during “Biggest Ball of Twine.” It’s great – I can make the accordion sound like just about anything I want (during that song, I used an ordinary piano sound, but the possibilities are endless). I used that same accordion acoustically for one of the songs on the new album, and I’m sure it’ll be in all its midi glory on the next tour.
William Squier of North Canton, OH asks: How could we, as your fans, get you into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
Buy me a ticket.
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for November, 1998
Chris “Not at all painted Blue” Shattuck of Portland Oregon asks: How did you meet the Kipper Kids? It was great to see them in UHF and Richard Elfman’s “Forbidden Zone”
I was first exposed to the Kipper Kids through “Forbidden Zone” myself, and later I caught their live performance art show at a loft somewhere in downtown L.A. – very bizarre stuff. I believe one of the Kipper Kids is actually an investment banker, and he’s married to Bette Midler! Anyway, when it came time to shoot “UHF,” I wasn’t sure what I wanted them to do – I just knew that I wanted the Kipper Kids in my movie somewhere. We called them up and invited them to fly out to Tulsa where we were filming, and sure enough, they did. (For those of you not in the know, in “UHF,” the Kipper Kids are the two gentlemen with large prosthetic noses who appear in the channel 62 telethon for just a few seconds. They actually performed an entire song for us, but unfortunately it wound up on the cutting room floor).
kristen jacobs (alhead27) of Marietta GA asks: In the complete Al… why are your eyes blue on the cover??
Gee, I never noticed that before! I guess the artist was taking… uh, artistic license!
Dustin Jablonski of Anderson,IN asks: During your tours do you take along any back-up costumes (Flintstone, Nirvana, Fat etc) or just take one of each?
For a few of the specially-made (read: expensive) wardrobe pieces, we do not have any back-ups, so we have to use those same costumes night after night and get them specially dry cleaned whenever we have a day or two off. Believe me, there are nights when that Bedrock loincloth and the Fat suit are pretty rank.
Stuart Gibson of Los Alamos, New Mexico asks: Speaking of songs that may or may not be on the next album, what will you do with the “Firestarter” parody? (BTW, you promised me a song about New Mexico back at Alcon)
CBS had absolutely insisted on putting new song parodies in the Weird Al Show, so my concession was doing the “Firestarter” parody (“Lousy Haircut”). I think it’s pretty funny, but it’s meant to be a quick visual gag – I don’t think the joke would sustain for much longer than about thirty seconds, and it just wouldn’t be as funny without the accompanying video. Therefore, don’t expect to see it on the next album
phil knitel of allentown, PA asks: did you ever really do [or even contemplate] a take off of “Ice Ice Baby” entitled “Rice Rice Baby”… when i was an al obsessee, various people told me that, and i never knew what to think
It seems I get credit for any parody that anybody any place puts out. Actually, “Rice Rice Baby” was done by a very talented friend of mine named Mark Davis, who has also made a bit of a name for himself in demented circles with his “Copacabana” parody, “Star Wars Cantina
Kyla Lee of Boise, ID asks: Why is it that everyone I know who has the Bad Hair Day Album has a colored photo of you on the cd itself, and my brother and I both have black and white ones?
Well, if you have a black and white CD, that proves that you were not one of the first 500,000 people to buy a copy. What were you waiting for??! (The record label decided to save a couple pennies on printing costs by switching from color CDs to black and white ones after the first half million copies were sold. Yet one more reason why you should always buy my albums on THE DAY THEY COME OUT).
Jason Dayhoff of Worthington Indiana asks: What did you do for the EEK STRAVAGANZA!! show???
Savage Steve Holland (who created Eek the Cat and also “ghost-directed” “Spy Hard”) is a friend of mine, and he asked me to appear as myself (in cartoon form) in one of the Eek episodes. The storyline revolved around my capturing an interesting piece of evidence on camera while shooting my latest music video.
Lizzy of St. Paul MN asks: What’s the worst thing that’s happened on stage during a concert?
I’ve had a number of sicknesses and physical injuries on stage – oh, it’s so hard to pick. I’ve done shows with complete laryngitis. I did a show in Victoria, BC (against doctor’s orders) with a temperature of 104. When smashing a guitar on stage at the Button South in Miami, Florida, the splintered pieces ricocheted off the floor and up into my face, slashing my nose wide open. I had to get stitches in my eyebrow after banging into a microphone stand while doing James Brown spins. And I’ve fallen off (and through) a stage on several occasions, most dramatically at the Konocti Harbor resort last year. (I had to go through weeks of physical therapy, and it was quite some time before I could put my leg behind my head again!) But in every single one of these cases, I still somehow managed to finish the show (although my bleeding and limping somehow made me seem a little less funny to the audience.)
Gregory Gillen of Maumee, OH asks: How can you fit all that hair underneath those wigs?
It’s not easy. In concert, it involves a lot of stretching and pulling. For videos, it’s a more painstaking process – sometimes my hair needs to be straightened or braided, and then glued down to my head. It can take hours, and it’s not very fun – but it works!
Brent Venable of Lafayette Louisiana asks: I saw a picture of Al and The Monkees,what were you doing with The Monkees?:)
During the summer of 1987, my band and I opened up for the Monkees on their North American (2nd Reunion) Tour. Despite the fact that the promoter gypped us out of a bunch of money, it was still a pretty fun tour… although it took a while to get used to having teenage girls running up to me, screaming, “Al! Al! Al! Where’s Davy Jones staying?”
Ron Murray of Northbrook, IL asks: Is it true the guy who played Raul Hernandez in “UHF” died shortly afterward?
Actually, Trinidad Silva, the actor who played Raul, tragically died while we were shooting the movie. He was run over by a drunk driver (which was a contributing factor to my later turning down a multi-million dollar offer to do beer commercials). Trinidad hadn’t even shot all of the scenes we needed him for, and we briefly considered re-casting the role, but we were all a bit too grief-stricken to look at new actors for that part – besides which, he had done a brilliant job. “Raul’s Wild Kingdom” is still one of my favorite parts of “UHF,” although for a long time it was kind of hard for me to laugh at it. If you watch the end credits, you’ll see that “UHF” is dedicated to the memory of Trinidad Silva.
Ryan Roe of Uvalde/TX asks: Is that you doing all the vocals on Since You’ve Been Gone?
I do all the vocals on that song, except for the really, really, REALLY low vocal, which is Steve Jay.
FUDGE of Huntsville, AL asks: Are you a member of The American Feferation of Musicians, or the Associated Actors and Artists of America?
Let’s see now… I’m a member of SAG (the Screen Actors Guild), AFTRA (the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists), NARAS (the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences), the AFM (American Federation of Musicians), the DGA (Directors Guild of America), the WGA (Writers Guild of America), and… oh, probably a couple of others that I can’t even think of right now.
Josh Frisch of Roseland, NJ asks: Why and when did Rick Derringer and stop making records together?
The last record that Rick produced for us was the UHF Soundtrack in 1989. We had a great run with Rick, he’s a terrific guy – but I had become more and more of a control freak over the years, and I’d finally gotten to the point in my recording career where I felt that I could capably hold the reins all by myself. So Rick and I split very amicably, and I’ve been producing my own records ever since.
Geri Mason of Hackettstown / NJ asks: Can you name all the Spice Girls?
Sure. I hereby name them all… Bob.
Eddie Schmidt of LA, CA asks: What can you tell us about the short film you made with Judy Tenuta entitled, “The Fan”?
A couple years ago, Judy put together this twisted little short film called “The Fan.” She basically had me play myself, and she played a psychotic, deranged fan that forces her way into my backstage dressing room and won’t leave (she’s very funny in it). I know Judy used to show the film during some of her live appearances – I don’t know if she does anymore, and I don’t know where else you’d be able to see it.
Bushwhacker of Green Bay asks: I know you’ve had you’re share of good/not-so-good relationships…did you try asking Victoria Jackson?? You two were sooo cute in UHF!
Vicki’s a real sweetie – the problem is, every time I run into her, she’s always married!
Joe Ferrari of Butler, PA asks: Have you ever appeared on stage with another artist?
Sure, lots of times. I got to perform “Headline News” with the Crash Test Dummies on Canada’s Much Music (as well as on stage at the House of Blues in L.A.)… I jammed with the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion at the Palace in L.A…. I jammed with Sam Kinison in a little club at the Montreal Comedy Festival one year… I did the Comic Relief Rap with Richard Belzer… Boy, I’m just getting started. Maybe you should ask on the newsgroup and see if anyone can come up with a list!
Chris Jones of St. Louis Missouri asks: How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.. I really am interested !!!!
Let’s see… One… Two… Three… CHOMP!! …Three.
Brent Flanders of Du Bois , PA says: I love the Simpsons. What`s your favorite TV show(other than “the weird al show”)?
Gee, that’s not a loaded question or anything, is it?? Actually, the Simpsons is one of my all-time favorite TV shows, and I still think it’s the wittiest, most well-written show on television today. (Hmmm… “Flanders,” huh? Any relation?)
Blair Freeman of Canton, IL asks: I just got the new Demento Society newsletter in the mail that said it would have another rare cut of yours. I think you said at ALCON ’98 that research of a live recording of “School Cafeteria” from the Doctor’s show was being done. Ever consider releasing a new demo rather than an old one as a sort-of “sneak peak” for the demented devotees from the new album?
Unfortunately, there’s a legal problem with that. My record label might be upset if I were to “give away” recordings made while under contract to them. So the songs released through the Demento Society have to be the ancient, early-80’s, pre-record contract recordings.
TyRone Francis of Ituna Sask asks: Have you ever licked a rock?
No!! Are you crazy? That’s disgusting! Ewww! I would never – wait a minute, did you say “rock”? Yes, yes I have.
Mike Adams of Fort Worth, Texas asks: Would you write a song about President Clinton in the form of the old Harper Valley PTA song.
No. (Besides the fact that I can’t take unsolicited song suggestions, I tend not to do songs that are too topical or political because they can become dated VERY quickly.)
Alhead27 of Marietta GA asks: Did you get to keep the stuff from the set of the Weird al show?!?!??!
Back in September I was invited to go out to Dick Clark’s massive warehouse in Valencia, California and drag home any of the props, wardrobe and junk from the Weird Al Show that I wanted to keep (they were going to throw it all out the next week to make room for new shows). I brought Bermuda with me, and we snagged as much stuff as we reasonably could, although it was painfully difficult for us to leave anything behind – we’re both total pack rats. In case you’re interested, Bermuda currently has the eyeball chair in his possession, and I’ve got most of the cool art work. Who knows, there may even be a couple choice Weird Al Show items showing up on the next AlCon auction block…
Farthead of Kents Store, VA (usa) asks: Have you ever considered bungee jumping?
Well, Farthead – if that IS your real name – I actually did go bungee jumping several years ago in Florida. I was pretty brave until the very last split second (that’s the point when your brain suddenly screams, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING???!!!”) But it was a lot of fun – I even did some kind of triple somersault on the way down (since the crowd gathered below was egging me on to do something “weird”). As an added bonus, the stack of index cards that I happened to have in my back pocket came showering down on the onlookers like a tickertape parade.
troyshow of Willmar, mn asks: re: the recording of your show’s theme- How was it recorded (ie.,analog tape,mac,p.c.) ?
For all of our songs, we generally record onto a 24-track analog tape machine (or if the song is more complex, we also sync up another 24-track analog or 32-track digital machine) and then we mix down to a 2-track stereo digital master tape.
Jonathan (Wiggy) Wigdortz of Greenwich, CT asks: What would you do if you went bald?
I guess I’d have to do more Smashing Pumpkins parodies.
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for October, 1998
Blair Freeman in Canton, IL asks: Have you ever taken voice lessons?
When I first started doing concert tours in the mid-80’s, I would always lose my voice at some point while on the road, because I wasn’t used to singing that much or that often. So at one point I took a couple vocal lessons from my friend Lisa Popeil (yes, Mr. Popeil’s daughter), who taught me how to sing without completely destroying my vocal chords. Also as a precaution while on the road, I now try to avoid air conditioning, smoky rooms, and shouting when I’m not onstage.
Jeremy Wilcox in Racine, Wisconsin asks: Hey Al! Hows it going? Do you ever lip synch your songs in concert?
I don’t believe I ever have (with the exception of a few cheeseball TV shows where lip synching is mandatory). So if you ever see my mouth moving on stage, for better or worse, I’m making the sound coming out of it.
Amber McReynolds in Fairbury, Illinois asks: What did you used to dress up as on Halloween and what was your favorite costume?
The one Halloween costume that sticks out in my mind was “Broccoli Man.” I strung raw broccoli on fishing line and wrapped myself in it, then put on a green cape and stuck a big letter “B” on my forehead. I remember I had to leave the party after about half an hour because I started smelling so bad.
Mike Roach in Joe, MT asks: Did you ever have the opportunity to meet Frank Zappa?
I’ve always been a big Zappa fan. In fact, when I was a teenager, I didn’t really care about being famous, but I used to fantasize about how cool it would be if Frank Zappa actually knew who I was. I finally met Frank while I was working in the mailroom at Westwood One, where Dr. Demento was then recording his national radio show. I got him to sign my tattered copy of “Freak Out,” and then he in turn asked for MY autograph, because his son Dweezil (then about 13 years old) was apparently a big fan of “Another One Rides The Bus”! A very proud day in my life.
Rainbow Heron in Sumter SC asks: Did you chose the name “Amy” in “Airline Amy” cuz you’re initials are A.M.Y.?
Actually, I was going more for the alliteration – it could have been Airline Annie, I suppose – but you’re right, I guess on some level I guess I was influenced by my own initials.
Matt kristek in Northampton, MA asks: I’d really like to know what got cut from UHF…pretty please?
There were a couple subplots and a couple gags here and there, but really, nothing worth writing home about. If anybody’s that interested, maybe I’ll try to dig up an early rough cut of the movie and show some deleted scenes at the next AlCon.
David Fisher in Billerica, MA asks: There is a significant time difference between the release of “UHF” and Dire Straits’ “Brothers In Arms”. Did you create “Money For Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies” when the song first came out and you just had no place for it until the movie, or did you have the idea for a Hillbillies parody while you were writing “UHF”, and had to go back to find a song whose tune matched the lyrics?
First of all, the bulk of “UHF” was written in 1985 (the year the Dire Straight song came out) – Jay Levey and I shopped the movie around Hollywood for years before finding somebody that actually wanted to make i. I believe the original script didn’t even have any parody lyrics written out – it probably just said “Insert Song Parody Here.” In fact, the original “Hillbillies” parody written for the movie was based on an even older song – “Let’s Go Crazy” by our pal, Prince. But I think you can guess what happened there.
Matt “Subman” (The 7) Marks in Omro, Wisconsin asks: Why is the Parodied song and the parody both included in the title “Money for Nothing / Beverly Hillbillies”
That incredibly stupid name is what the lawyers insisted that the parody be listed as. I’m not sure why, and I’ve obviously never been very happy about it.
Rev. Matt Keeley in Seattle, WA asks: What did DEVO think about “Dare to be Stupid”? I’ve heard various conflicting reports, and I just was wondering what the truth was.
Right after I finished “Dare To Be Stupid,” I went over to (lead singer) Mark Mothersbaugh’s house and played it for him. He seemed to enjoy it a lot.
Kristen “alhead27” Jacobs in Marietta asks: HI AL! I just wanted to know what your favorite thing to drink is.:)
My own saliva.
Justin Frazier in Tennessee asks: In the song “Taco Grande”, did you make the spanish lyrics during the middle of the song, or did you have someone help you (basically I’m asking if you know spanish)???
I took about three years of Spanish in high school, but I’ve retained very little of it (I know how to ask where the library is). I had to write Cheech Marin’s speech in English, and then have a Scotti Bros. employee (who was a bit more bilingual than me) translate it into Spanish for him. (Oddly enough, Cheech isn’t that fluent in Spanish either.)
Lizzy in St. Paul MN asks: What is you favorite Tom Lehrer song?
Oh, I can’t pick just one. But I will tell you, when my friend Joel Miller and I were in college and playing the local campus Coffee House, we used to perform the Elements song. That’s a fun one to memorize.
Tiffany Dykstra in Camarillo, CA asks: Why did Hanson ask u to do the River video??
Well, they were doing a parody, so who would YOUR first choice be? 🙂 Actually, they had approached me to direct their previous video, “Weird” (which I thought was kind of appropriate). I had written the video for them and was all set to go, but at the last minute Gus Van Sant decided that he wanted to direct it, so I guess they felt they had to go with the bigger name.
Mike Basel in Southfield, MI asks: Do you read Mad Magazine?
I pick it up now and then and still get a chuckle out of it, but back when I was in my early teens, I was absolutely obsessed with it. It was a big part of my childhood. It was another dream come true for me when I finally got to visit the MAD offices in New York, as well as when they reprinted the lyrics to “Jurassic Park” in one of their issues!
David Catmull in Berkeley/California asks: What was your interview with Space Ghost like? How did they arrange a conversation with a cartoon character?
I was in a studio in Hollywood wearing an earpiece, talking over a phone line with Space Ghost, who I believe was in Atlanta. We had a bizarre little interview, which was a lot of fun… Of course, the folks at Space Ghost Coast To Coast tend not to use the interviewee’s real answers in context with the actual questions that were asked – they take a lot of liberties there. But then, I guess I wouldn’t have any right to complain about that, would I?
John K. Brewer, Jr in Coushatta, LA asks: How’s the new car drive?
You just stick the key in the ignition, turn it clockwise, step on the gas pedal, and it just takes right off!
Vinnie Bartilucci in Riverdale, NY asks: Is “The Biggest ball of Twine in Minnesota” supposed to be a parody of Harry Chapin’s or Gordon Lightfoot’s style of music? (I’m guessing Harry, but I have a friend who thinks it Lightfoot…)
It actually is supposed to sound like both Chapin AND Lightfoot. I wanted to encapsulate that 70’s singer-songwriter rambling epic kind of thang.
Jordan in Whitby asks: Are you mad at King of the Hill for making fun of you or did you give them permission?
No, I thought it was funny – although I did have to explain to a few people that I’m not quite dead yet. I’ve talked to Mike Judge a few times in the past (I had originally considered Beavis and Butthead for the “Phony Calls” cameo). He’s a nice guy, and as it turns out, a big fan of “UHF.”
Kyla Lee in Boise, ID asks: Why is it on some of your early albums’ cd form the cover booklet is blank inside, i. e. no pictures, credit to the original artists, or lyrics, if on record form that information is given?
When my CDs are first released, they generally have lyrics, pictures, and all the other goodies you’d expect to find. But sometimes when they are reissued, the record company tries to save a couple pennies by skimping on the printing costs. All of which is another reason why you should buy my albums on THE DAY THEY COME OUT.
Eddie Schmidt in LA, CA asks: The director of “The Weird Al Show” was credited as Peyton Reed. I’ve never heard of him before. Could this be (gasp!)…a pseudonym? If not, what else has Reed directed, and what was it like to work with him?
Peyton Reed is an extremely cool guy – I met him for the first time when we were auditioning directors for the Weird Al Show. He has a background in music video, and has done some TV movies for Disney (remakes of “The Computer That Wore Tennis Shoes” and “The Love Bug”) as well as a few episodes of HBO’s “The High Life.” His primary medium is film and he hadn’t done a multi-camera TV shoot before, but unfortunately that’s all we were budgeted for. Peyton was as enthusiatic and as dedicated a director as I could have hoped for, and especially considering all the limitations, restraints and pressures heaped on him by the network, I think he did a terrific job.
TyRone Francis in Ituna asks: How did you think of Dog Eat Dog?
I just drew on my experiences from my old desk job, and remembered what it was like to play with paper clips all day and have my boss come stomping up to me with the veins bulging in his forehead.
Rich Kitterman in Franklin, WI asks: Al, Have you ever read anything by Douglas Adams? If so what, and Who is your favorite author?
A fan turned me on to Douglas Adams a couple years ago – I’ve read a couple books in his Hitchhiker series, and enjoyed them immensely. Favorite author? Gee, I don’t really read many novels… I dunno… Dr. Seuss?
Jens Landmand in Lillebøs: Is your music copyrighted?
Yeah, so just don’t try anything funny, okay, Buster?
Harold in Dansville, New York asks: Was the concert footage at the beginning of ‘the Compleat Al’ filmed just for the mockumentary or did you always torch your accordions early on in your career?
That’s the only time I ever set fire to my accordion, but on several occasions on the ’85 Stupid Tour (usually in the major markets), I would destroy an accordion by whacking it repeatedly on the stage (this was the “big finish” of our rendition of “My Generation” by the Who”). It was always a big crowd pleaser, but I had to stop, because as you know, an accordion is a terrible thing to waste.
Sandy Butler in New Jersey asks: Al, what was your favorite stop on last years BHD tour?
Cindy Groves in Friendly, WV asks: Over the years, you’ve played a lot of practical jokes on your band members (especially Ruben). Have they ever played a practical joke on you?
Once we did a show in San Francisco that happened to fall on my birthday. When I came out for the encore, my tour manager walked onstage and planted a big messy birthday cake right in my face. I didn’t mind the face part, but the cake got all over and inside my beloved accordion, and it kind of brought the show to a halt.
Ryan E. in Orlando. FL asks: What number am I thinking of?
Ummm… nawww, that’s too easy.
Back to the“Ask Al” Q&As for September, 1998
Jordan Cooper in New York asks: Do you usually hang out after a show? Would it be easy to meet you? (Hope you play in NYC on your next tour!)
It depends – there are a lot of factors involved. For security reasons, it’s usually very difficult for me to meet fans after concerts at state and county fairs – but I try to do “meet and greets” whenever the band plays smaller venues like clubs and theatres. We generally wait until the crowd thins down to a reasonable number, but if we’re on a really tight schedule, it may not be possible at all. So I can’t guarantee it – and you shouldn’t expect it – but having said that, the band and I really enjoy meeting people after shows, and if we can do it, we will do it.
James from Placerville, CA asks: Have you ever met They Might Be Giants
TMBG is one of my favorite groups, and I’ve met the Johns on one or two occasions. I even asked them several years ago if they’d be interested in co-headlining a concert tour with me, but they weren’t into it at the time. (They were also too busy to do The Weird Al Show last year. What, is it my breath?)
Stephen Burton from Trumansburg, NY asks: Can you give any information on your new album?
Yes. (Unfortunately, I can only answer one question about the new album, and I’m afraid that was it.)
May Berenbaum from Urbana, IL asks: What’s an ear booker?
Ear booker (rhymes with BEER PUKER) is a word that I share with an old high school friend of mine, as part of a secret language of sorts. It’s hard to describe the actual meaning of the word – all I can say is an “ear booker” is the event that has transpired when your “ear” has been sufficiently “booked.” I hope I’ve cleared that up.
Blair Freeman from Canton, IL asks: I know that Stan Freberg was on “The Weird Al Show”. Do you ever get a chance to communicate with comedy record artists who have inspired you?
Doing a weekly network TV show (even one on CBS) gave me an excellent opportunity to call up some of my life-long heroes and beg them to work with me. Having Stan Freberg as a semi-regular on my show was one of the greatest experiences of my life. And for the record, I did also talk to Tom Lehrer and Shel Silverstein, both of whom were incredibly gracious, but politely declined due to the fact that they don’t like to appear on camera anymore. (Maybe I should have asked Tom to be the Guy Boarded Up In The Wall?)
Rainbow Heron from Sumter, SC asks: At your 10/27/96 concert in Jacksonville, you mentioned that Rubén was getting married. Since he is/will be a married man (since I haven’t heard yet), do Steve, Bermuda, and Rubén ever tease you and Jim about being the only bachelors? (seems as if there is or could be some inside joke going on about it)
Rubén is nowhere close to getting married, as far as I know. As I recall, that night in Jacksonville Rubén had a girlfriend in the audience, and she had brought her parents to the show. Knowing this, I decided to embarrass and humiliate the poor lad as much as possible, so I told the audience that Rubén had brought his “fiance” to the show. Everybody thought that was really, really funny, except, for some reason, Rubén.
Tim Lindsay from Toronto, Canada asks: I think I remember you doing a music video called “Patterns” for the PBS show “Square One” a few years back, but I’ve looked everywhere and there’s no record of it. Can you help my verify it exists?
It doesn’t exist on record. It was just something that I did for the Children’s Television Workshop several years ago. One of their staff writers wrote the song, and the track had already been produced – all I did was sing the lyrics and appear in the video, which, as you pointed out, appeared on “Square One” on PBS. By the way, my manager Jay Levey directed the “Patterns” video, so that kept him off the streets for a while.
Rick Winkler from New Brunswick, NJ asks: Is it in good comic taste to punt a small dog?
Only if it is a poodle.
Justin Crouch from Cahokia, IL asks: Have you considered putting your show into syndication on another channel such as Fox Family Channel?
There were only 13 episodes made, so traditional syndication would be virtually impossible. At this point, the future of The Weird Al Show looks pretty bleak, but we haven’t given up trying to place it with another network.
Simple Jim from Norton, Ohio asks: Does my hair look better parted on the left or the right?
In your case, it really doesn’t matter. Just get that mole removed, all right?
Greg Method from Richfield, Ohio asks: Why was John Kricfalusi thanked in the “Alapalooza” booklet? Just a little cartoonist worship or did he help out with the Flintstone research for “Bedrock Anthem?” T’anx. 🙂
I think John Kricfalusi is a genius, and I’ve been a friend and fan of his for many years. Specifically, he’s thanked in the liner notes because one of Kricfalusi’s drawings inspired one of the visual gags in the Jurassic Park video. I tried as hard as I could to get John to do part of the opening animation sequence for the Weird Al Show, but unfortunately we weren’t able to come to terms on the deal – plus, the network was a bit concerned about his being able to deliver on deadline (he’s known to be quite the perfectionist).
Matt “Subman” (The 7) Marks from Omro, Wisconsin asks: I’ve looked everywhere for shoes similar to yours. Do you get them specially made?
Mostly, I’m known for wearing Van’s shoes – they have retail outlets (mostly on the West Coast, I think), and you might be able to get them mail-order. I wear their shoes off the rack, but I’m told you can send in your own fabric and have them specially made if you want.
Cindy Groves from Friendly, WV asks: Have you ever considered showing any outtakes or bloopers or other behind-the-scenes hijinks to one of those “bloopers” shows?
Actually, a few outtakes from The Weird Al Show were selected to be shown on a Dick Clark Bloopers special of some sort, but I don’t think the clips were ever used. Maybe I’ll show them at AlCon 2000…
Brenda from Bossier City, LA asks: Will the Backstreet boys ever be on your show? because thats my favorite band and tv show!!
Seeing as how the show was cancelled in January, that might be a bit of a problem. Okay, here’s what you do… get a tape of the Weird Al Show and then record a video of the Backstreet Boys in the middle of it. Then just watch it and pretend…
Matt from Cleveland, Ohio asks: some artists do not like to listen to themselves or see themselves on film, does this pertain to you? why or whynot?
Whenever I do an album, video or film, during the entire process I’m looking for mistakes, weak points and glitches. I’m never absolutely 100% happy with anything I do, but after a while, you just have to stop and declare something “done.” The problem with this whole process is, even after a project is finished, for a long time afterwards all I can hear are the “mistakes.” It usually takes quite a while before I can really enjoy watching or listening to something that I’ve done.
Janet from California (like, for sure!) asks: Are you happy with what you’ve accomplished throughout your life, or do you wish you chose a different path?
Sometimes I wish I had been… a lumberjack!
Arielle Dykstra from Camarillo, CA asks: What did u think of getting 2 work with Hanson and Gloria Stewart??
Overall, it was a lot of fun. Gloria Stewart is one of the sweetest people in the whole world – just a joy to work with. I couldn’t believe I was actually directing somebody that had just been nominated for an Academy Award! And the guys in Hanson were very nice, too. They didn’t really need to come to the video shoot (since their performance part had already been shot in New York) but they flew in anyway and spent the whole day on the soundstage with me. They were even singing some of my songs on the set between takes (originals, yet!) so I got a big kick out of that. The only negative part of the whole experience was that they asked me to make some changes during the editing process that I was not very happy with – I thought my original version was a lot funnier. As a professional, I was obliged to make the changes, but as an artist, I decided to take my name off the video. Unfortunately, MTV insisted on giving me directing credit anyway, and I didn’t feel like going to war over it – I did, however, turn down several national TV interviews because of my artistic snit. But like I said, the whole experience overall was still a blast, and I really wouldn’t mind working with them again. (I still can’t understand all the negative mail I got after they appeared on the Weird Al Show – you’d think we’d booked Hitler or something. Really, they’re just three phenomenally popular teenage musicians – just because your younger sister likes them, it doesn’t mean they’re the embodiment of evil.)
Renee from Pittsburgh PA asks: Who is Leroy Finkelstein?
Leroy Finklestein is a gag name that I’ve been using for various characters over the years. It started in my college radio days when my friend Joe Earley would come into the studio and play the part of soul-rock-surf-punk-country-and-western-easy-listening-rhythm-and-bluesman Leroy Finklestein. I’d interview him, and he’d talk about all his amazing adventures in the music business. His biggest hit was an annoying song called “Cookin’ Rats,” which he’d insist was “very big on the East Coast.”
James Matons from Staten Island/ New York asks: Was “Twister” A style Pardoy of The Beastie Boys??
Tony Goldmark from San Francisco, CA asks: Of these four songs – “I’ll Repair For You,” “Theme From Spy Hard,” “Ballad Of Kent Marlow,” and “The Weird Al Show Theme Song”-which ones are you planning to include on your next album?
“I’ll Repair For You” was never officially approved, and is destined to be a concert-only song. “Theme From Spy Hard” was already released on the “Gump” single, and also seems way too dated to include on the next album. “The Ballad Of Kent Marlow” was done specially for the “Safety Patrol” TV movie, and it would make very little sense out of context. However, I would say “The Weird Al Show Theme” is a definite contender, and has a decent chance of showing up on my next release.
Jessica Frank from Rock Island, IL–Augustana College asks: What’s your favorite cheese?
Drew Stern from Bowie, Maryland asks: What is your connection with Dick Van Patton? I mean he is in like 4 of your music videos, and a whole bunch of Weird Al show episodes!
On the day that we were shooting “Smells Like Nirvana”, the production team was banging its collective head against the wall because we still hadn’t come up with an appropriately odd celebrity cameo for the crowd shot. As luck would have it, at the 11th hour a friend of mine announced that a friend of a friend of hers happened to be Dick Van Patten. I thought that was a great idea, so we made the call and luckily Dick was available. He was such a huge hit in that video that I’ve since tried to incorporate him into as many of my projects as possible. (I have to admit, though… I still feel a little bad about making him dance around in a little pink tutu on the Weird Al Show.)
Tiffany Dykstra from Camarillo, CA asks: Have u ever written a demented love song (i.e. U don’t Love Me Anymore, I’m So Sick of U, et cetera, et cetera) while dating a girl and have her be offended by it (please note I did not include One More Minute because I know the story)?
Generally when I write a twisted love song, I’m not thinking of anybody in particular, but whoever I’m dating at the time usually gets offended anyway. By the way, for some reason nobody I’ve ever been involved with has thought that “I Was Only Kidding” is very funny at all.
Kevin P. Kirby from Grand Junction, CO asks: Why wasn’t a Video ever made for the song “Yoda” ?
At the time, everybody thought “Yoda” was just a cool album track, not a potential single. After all, “The Empire Strikes Back” was already five years old when “Dare To Be Stupid” came out, and “Lola” was fifteen years old – so the bulk of the video budget went toward the then-current Madonna parody. Nobody could have guessed what a perennial favorite “Yoda” was to become. (Plus, it would have been legally difficult and very expensive to do a decent video for it.)
Erik Williams from Centralia, IL asks: Would you be willing to be on MTV’s FANatic?
Boy, would I! I’d love to meet Zamfir, master of the pan flute!
Shawn Dowler from Escondido, CA asks: My friend asked me today, “Have you seen ‘Weird Al”s new look? I guess now everyone will start calling him ‘Regular Al’ or something.” Anyway, does your new look reflect a new “Serious Al,” or will you stil be wacky and cool
Okay, for the last time, it was a JOKE. I was wearing a WIG. I didn’t cut my hair. Everybody just calm down. Everything’s going to be all right. Hey, remember the “Gump” video? I was bald in that one, and the next day, all my hair was back! Amazing what Hollywood can do these days, huh? For the record, a producer at MTV approached me about doing those “Unplugged” spots. My supposed “new look” from the Hanson video was getting such a huge reaction that MTV wanted to confuse people even more with some promos featuring a “serious, introspecive” Al. Man, that really flipped people out. Friends I’d known for years were convinced that I’d cut my hair. (And gee, for some reason, my hair suddenly became straight and blonde, too!) At least one person even believed that I’d been wearing a curly-haired wig all these years, and that those commercials finally showed my REAL hair! I mean, I wanted to stir up a little controversy, but I think I’ve confused and disturbed a lot of people. So like I said before… JOKE. Ha ha.
Hal Burrows from Milwaukee, WI asks: Hey Al! Can I appear on your next album?
Sure. It’s easy – just hold the shiny side of the CD up to your face… voila! There you are.
Back to theMidnight Star “Ask Al” Q&As for July/August, 1998
Had you ever played a theremin prior to “Slime Creatures From Outer Space”? It sounds like you were having fun.
I believe that was the first time. I knew I wanted a theremin-like sound on “Slime Creatures” to simulate those cheesy 50’s sci-fi soundtracks, and Steve just happened to have an actual theremin! In fact, when we did the song live, I played Steve’s theremin on stage!
If the 3 Tenors did another concert and let you pick the songs for the medley (okay, so it’s a really hypothetical question…) what would you make them sing? (#’s 1 & 2 – Unruly Julie Jiles)
A medley of “Kung Fu Fighting,” “The Night Chicago Died” and “Billy, Don’t Be A Hero.”
Do you plan on releasing a CD of previously unreleased songs or alternate takes? How about a live CD and video? (Robert and Doreen Self)
No. Pretty much everything worth releasing has been released already – I’m not very proud of the stuff that I did when I was 17. If hardcore fans want to circulate tapes of the early stuff, I guess that’s okay, but I just wouldn’t want to subject the general population to that. And I wouldn’t really want to release a live CD because most of my songs sound pretty close live to the way they do on record. Plus, the stuff that we do only in concert couldn’t be done legally on record anyway. As far as a live video is concerned, I think the Disney Channel special is about as close as we’ll come to that any time soon. If you missed it, there’s still a (small) chance that it’ll be released on home video some day.
Do you do any sports like swimming, roller blading, skiing or biking?
I’ve decided my ankles are too weak for roller-blading, and I’ve only been skiing twice. I enjoy tennis and racquetball, but I don’t get to play very often at all. I guess the most exercise I get is… going on the road!
Where do you like to go on vacation?
I rarely travel to places where I’m not performing or working, but I took a week off at the end of last year and visited Jim at his place in Hana (Hawaii). I had the time of my life – snorkeling, cliff diving, and all the papayas you could eat! Thanks again, Jim!
You’re known for your parodies, but would you ever release an album of just your original songs? (#’s 4-6 – Vicki and Kelsey McLoughlin)
I don’t think so. The fact is, it’s the parodies that “sell” the album to the bulk of the population, so I think it would behoove me to keep a healthy mix of the parodies and originals.
If you’re not Jewish, why do you use a lot of Yiddish in your songs?
I’m in the entertainment industry. It’s like a second language!
Are any of the band members Jewish? (Oh, by the way, I AM Jewish) (#’s 7 & 8 – Russell Kay)
Hmmm… let’s see… Schwartz…. gee, I dunno!
Now that you are often without your trademark glasses and mustache, do you enjoy being more anonymous or does it bother you, not being recognized in public? (Carlotta)
It’s a nice change of pace. I’m actually quite amazed – it’s like Clark Kent… I take off my glasses, and 90% of the people have no idea who I am! I’m actually still debating about what to do when the next album comes out – do I continue to wear glasses even though I don’t need them?? Hmmm…
Back to theMidnight Star “Ask Al” Q&As for May/June, 1998
After 30-plus years of high-intensity accordion playing, how are your carpal tunnels holding out? (Unruly Julie Jiles)
Just fine, thanks!
Do you own any Pez dispensers?
I’ve been given a few over the years. My favorite one is a Weird Al Pez dispenser that a fan made for me.
What is your favorite cartoon show on TV?
I guess that would have to be “The Adventures of Fatman.”
Who is your favorite musician that you have parodied (#’s 2 & 4 Jon Hillyer)
I’ve been a big fan of quite a few artists that I’ve parodied… It’s really hard to say. So I won’t.
Have you ever been arrested? (Lee Schuler)
On “This is the Life,” scratching is credited to an artist known only as “The Glove” – but whose glove is it really? (Eddie Schmidt)
The Glove was a professional “scratcher” who we called in just for that session. That’s the only name he gave us. I never met him before and I haven’t seen him since.
Do you have and recurring nightmares?
See album #5, Side 1, Track 2.
In past issues of the MS you have said you judge a woman by the size of her nostrils. Would you consider dating the nasally-challenged? (#’s 7-8 The Incredible Colin)
Only if she’s got really big ear lobes.
Have you ever collaborated with a fan on a song or video? (Nancy Eckard)
No, not really.
Any chance we could see a Rare & Unreleased compilation to be sold to readers of the MS and/or the Demento Society that would include songs like “Belvedere Crusing” and “School Cafeteria” and a “Weird Al Show” soundtrack album? (Derik Rhum)
The Demento Society has been doing their part by releasing some of my pre-record contract rarities on the Doctor’s annual Basement Tapes collections for the last few years. I think that way, the hard-core fans can hear how lousy I used to sound, and the run-of-the-mill fan won’t be subjected to it. If a decent copy can be located, there should be a live-on-the-air early recording of “School Cafeteria” on the next edition. As far as songs from the Weird Al Show, a soundtrack album is highly unlikely at this point, although I’m considering throwing the theme song on the next album.
Back to theMidnight Star “Ask Al” Q&As for March/April, 1998
There are many people who want to know “Why didn’t you tour (my state’s name here) during the BHD tour, etc.” Is there anywhere or anyone to whom a person can write and let them know there is an interest and possible audience for you? It seems you hit the same places each time your tour anymore. (Pam R. on behalf of the entire MS membership)
Believe it or not, we really do try to cover as much of the country as possible, but we can only go where we get reasonable offers. I don’t know if it would do any good to harass them, but local concert promoters and fair organizers would usually make those kind of decisions.
What was your favorite movie that you saw last year?
I hate to be so totally un-original, but I’d probably have to say “Titanic.”
Do gentlemen/you prefer blondes? (Catheryn Blair)
I don’t judge a woman by the color of her hair. I judge her by the size and shape of her nostrils.
Are you going to rewrite the words to and re-record Buckingham Blues because of what happened to Princess Diana? (Terrill Eugene Williams)
Is Rocky Road really your favorite ice cream? (Gretchen Wood)
There’s really no ice cream I dislike (although I’m trying to avoid dairy in general these days), but I got pretty burnt out on Rocky Road in the early 80’s. I was involved in a number of Rocky Road ice cream eating contests to promote that single.
What/who inspired “Airline Amy”?
I was not thinking of any particular woman. “Airline Amy” was actually inspired by a couple of songs that I heard by Nick Lowe and Jonathan Richman.
Is Harvey the Wonder Hamster related to the Radioactive Hamster from a Planet Near Mars? (Mary “Zorak” Griswold)
They’re second cousins twice removed.
What was your favorite subject in school?
Did you have many friends when you were young or were you always considered “weird”? (Vicki & Kelsey McLoughlin)
I had a very small group of very weird friends.
How many accordions do you own? (Jen Willis)
I think right now, including my midi one, I own four.
Back to theMidnight Star “Ask Al” Q&As for January/February, 1998
Has Harvey ever bitten you? (Saundra Doyle/The Incredible Colin)
I remember several years ago I was hosting Friday Night Videos with my friend Emo Philips. The producers supplied me with a “Harvey” that was right from the pet shop and had not had much real human interaction. The nervous hamster took a couple chunks out of my hand during the first couple takes of the show opening. I finally had to put on heavy gloves just to hold him.
The Official Celebrity Appearance Price List quoted John Tesh at ,000; How much would I need to spend for a visit from you?
I’m a bargain at just ,000!
Who animates you for the opening & Fatman portions of your show (#’s 2&3 Scott A. Wilson)
A company called Epoch Inc. animated the first part (traditional animation), a company out of Texas called DNA did the computer generated part, and Scott Nordlund (who also did my Jurassic Park video) did the claymation at the end. DNA also did the Fatman cartoons. They are known on the animation circuit for their “Nana and Li’l Puss Puss” series, and also recently did a TV special called “Santa vs. the Snowman.”
Do your parents still tell you to get your hair cut?
It depends. Which hair are you talking about?
Are there any reasons why you haven’t ventured into the musical style of zydeco, where the accordion is revered as the most popular instrument? (#’s 4 & 5 – Dan Raudonis)
Actually, I’ve been listening to quite a lot of zydeco recently, so I wouldn’t be too surprised if a zydeco-flavored original crops up on the next album.
What is the story behind the “Spasm Jam” at the end of the OTDE CD? (Austen Dooley)
I wanted to emulate Nirvana, who also had a song following ten minutes of silence at the end of their “Nevermind” album. But I also thought it would be a great practical joke to make the “song” a six-second burst of the most anxiety-provoking sounds imaginable, thereby scaring people out of their minds. We actually spent a lot of time recording and mixing that – adding feedback, fingernails on chalkboards, etc. We wanted to create the most annoying six seconds of audio ever recorded.
How many foreign countries have you visited and which ones?
Most of my international traveling was done while I was promoting UHF. To date, I’ve been to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Italy, England, Holland, Germany and Belgium. That’s all I can think of off hand.
Who is your favorite cartoon character? (#’s 7 & 8 – Jen Willis)
I used to say Marvin the Martian, but now I guess it’s… uh… ME!
Does your curly hair ever get on your nerves?
I used to want straight hair when I was growing up, but now I don’t mind my curly hair so much. I only get the impulse to shave it all off every once in a while.
Do vegetarians eat animal crackers? (#’s 9 & 10 – Abigail Atkinson)
Back to theMidnight Star “Ask Al” Q&As for November/December, 1997
Is your original music teacher still alive, and if so, is he/she proud of his former student? (The Incredible Colin)
My original accordion teacher was a wonderful lady named Mrs. Fesenmeyer, although it’s not the actress that plays her on the Weird Al Show. I haven’t seen her since I was about ten, but I believe she’s still with us.
How long does it take you to re-grow your mustache once you shave it off? (The Incredible Colin)
Usually about three or four weeks.
Who would you say is your biggest competitor? (Ian Clements)
Since you’ve done a few movie themes now, would you ever consider scoring an entire film? Would it have to be a comedy? (Eddie Schmitt)
I probably could score a movie, but that’s not really my forte. I have some friends (Steve Jay, Jim West and Will Anderson to name a few) who are a whole lot more talented at it than I am – I’d rather give them the work.
Does a “director’s cut” or “alternate version” of UHF exist with different and/or deleted scenes, and would you ever allow that to be released? (Eddie Schmitt)
The first cut of UHF was about an hour longer than the final theatrical version – but believe me, there was a REASON that hour was cut. You’re not really missing anything.
Have you ever tried to do (or considered doing) a parody of a song by a deceased artist like Jimi Hendrix or Elvis Presley? (Terill Eugene Williams)
I don’t have anything against dead people. If I were to think of a funny enough idea, I would certainly consider it.
How many rooms are there in your house? (Abigail Atkinson)
2 bed, 2 bath.
Are you Jewish or Polish? (We have a poll 8 to 5) (Jen Willis)
How long have you been able to contort your body the way that we saw on “I Lost On Jeopardy” and “Space Ghost: Coast To Coast”? (Allison Corbin)
Since my early teens.
Have you met any Presidents? (Ryan “Bruno” Michaliski)
Once I met the President of the local Rotary Club. Does that count?
Back to theMidnight Star “Ask Al” Q&As for September/October, 1997
Who does the ominous voice of Big Louie in UHF? (Eddie Schmitt)
I don’t remember. It doesn’t say in the credits?
Did you get an Easter basket this year and if so what was in it? (Mary Renee McReynolds)
I don’t think I got one this year.
In the song “I Want A New Duck” the name Bruce is mentioned. Is that the reason why the duck in Peter & The Wolf is name Bruce?
Who out of the entire band is the tallest? Shortest? (#’s 3 & 4 Sara “Cornfed” Brooks)
I haven’t measured them recently. I’m about six foot even, that’s about all I can tell you.
Did you ever drive a motorcycle?
Are you a neat freak or a slob or somewhere in between?
Somewhere in between.
Do you ever really go bowling? Do you own a bowling ball?
I don’t get to bowl very often, but I try to go at least once every several years, just to stay in practice. The owner of the Big Kahuna in Delaware actually gave me a bowling ball on tour this year.
Do you play Monopoly or any other board games? Did you as a child? What was/is your favorite? (#’s 5 – 8 Vicki & Kelsey McLoughlin)
I don’t play too many board games these days – but I do play a computer trivia game called “You Don’t Know Jack” on occasion (thanks, Marty & Nick!). I played a lot of board games as a kid. I don’t know if I had a favorite – I suppose Monopoly was one, but the fact that it took weeks to finish a game was a bit of a drawback.
Have you ever gotten a speeding ticket, crashed or been in court? (Abigail Atkinson)
I got a speeding ticket once, and went to traffic school for it. I’ve had a couple minor fender benders in my life, nothing serious. And so far, I’ve never had to go to court for anything.
Ahem… what size is your bed? King, queen, etc…? (Jen Willis)
It’s called a “California King” – it’s slightly larger than King size.
Back to theMidnight Star “Ask Al” Q&As for March/April, 1997
Have you ever been stung by a bee, bitten by a dog, broken any bones or received any stitches?
I’ve never been stung by a bee, but for some reason I’m still deathly afraid of them. I was bitten pretty severely by my uncle’s dog when I was a little kid, but I’m fine now, thanks. I haven’t broken any bones, but I’ve gotten stitches a few times, mostly because of accidents that have happened on stage (doing my James Brown spins and bashing my head into the microphone, etc.)
When was the first time you realized you were a “star”?
I guess it was when Paul McCartney noticed me at a party and said, “Hey! It’s Weird Al!!”
How many TV’s do you have and what’s their screen size?
I have a 35″ (tube) TV in my living room and a barely-working 20″ TV in my bedroom.
Do you like the ocean or the mountains better?
It depends. I like the ocean better for swimming, but I prefer mountains when I’m climbing.
What’s your favorite holiday?
What color are the towels in your bathroom? (#’s 1-6, Vicki and Kelsey McLoughlin)
I don’t think I have more than two towels that match. I’m a bachelor, remember?
Do you like to ride roller coasters? If so, how many do you think you’ve been on? Which one was the scariest? (V & M McLoughlin, Gabriele Centamore, The Incredible Colin)
The band and I love roller coasters, and we try to check them out whenever we play at an amusement park. I’m sure I’ve been on several dozen roller coasters in my life, but I couldn’t pick a favorite, although I remember enjoying the Wildcat at Hershey Park last year.
How much did you sell the 1977 Toyota featured in the Compleat Al for?
Actually, I didn’t want to go through the trouble of selling it, so I gave it away on MTV! It was part of a big MTV “Let’s Make A Deal” style contest. You could win the David Bowie prize package, the Tom Petty prize package, or… Weird Al’s car! (I guess my Toyota was supposed to be the “Zonk” prize.) The woman that wound up winning my car was a huge David Bowie fan, and when she found out (on live TV) that she’d gotten the Weird Al package instead, she was visibly upset, to put it mildly.
Have you ever been in a TV commercial and if you could pick a product to endorse, what would it be? (Hawaiian Ryan Swoverland/The Incredible Colin)
I was seen briefly in a Diet Coke commercial in 1984. If I had to pick another product to endorse, it would have to be, uh, one of the fine products listed on Bermuda’s merchandise web set!
How do people get to appear in your videos? (A LOT of people ask this!!!)
Well, it helps if you’re in my band. Or if you’re Dick Van Patten. Other than that, I just pick names at random out of the phone book. Don’t worry, I’ll get around to everyone eventually.
Back to theMidnight Star “Ask Al” Q&As for January/February, 1997
When you leave the stage at the end of your concerts, why aren’t you wearing your glasses?
Usually I end my concerts by spinning around in circles very quickly, which would sometimes cause my glasses to fall off. So now I remove my glasses before I start spinning – and then just leave them off until I get backstage.
Are you afraid of spiders? Do you have any phobias?
Now that you mention it, sometimes I get really creeped out when I wake up in the morning and my mouth is full of spiders. Yuck.
Why did you write Waffle King? There must be a story behind that.
Boy, you’d think so, wouldn’t you? But there isn’t. I just wanted to write a song about a guy who becomes incredibly famous for doing something kinda stupid, and then starts taking himself way too seriously. And NO, it’s not autobiographical!
You seem kind of hyper! How much sleep do you usually get?
It varies wildly. During really busy weeks (I had a few of those last year!) I’ll get 2-4 hours sleep, but I love to get 8 or more if my schedule will allow it (and the phone doesn’t ring too early in the morning).
Do you ever have the guys in the band over to your house for a barbecue? (#’s 1-5 Vicki & Kelsey McLoughlin)
I haven’t yet – but they know they’re always welcome to use my barbecue grill.
A club in Houston was sued for calling itself Velvet Elvis. Have you heard anything from the Presley family about the song’s name? (CB)
No. I met Priscilla once or twice while doing the Naked Gun movies, and she never tried to subpoena me or anything.
Is there any gag or line you had to cut out of UHF that you really wish you’d been able to keep in? (Eddie Schmidt)
There was a station promo for a new sitcom called “Those Darn Homos!” which Orion made me take out. It was pretty funny, but I guess not terribly P.C.
Have you ever had your IQ measured? Do you have a genius level IQ? (Daniel Savad)
I remember taking IQ tests in school, but I don’t think they ever told me the results. I’m guessing it’s somewhere in the triple digits.
What is your favorite color?
How often do you bowl? (#’s 9 & 10 Hawaiian Ryan Swoverland)
At least once every five years, whether I need to or not.
Back to theMidnight Star “Ask Al” Q&As for November/December, 1996
Where did you get your good looks?
Enormous amounts of plastic surgery.
Are you available? (#’s 1-2 Allison Corbin)
Yes, I’m available for wedding and Bar Mitzvahs. Call my agent.
Do you keep in touch with the people you were in UHF with like Michael Richards and Fran Drescher? (Willie T. Brandum)
Unfortunately I don’t get to see them very often (I hear they’re doing some TV shows now or something)… but I do run into them every once in a while.
What was/is your favorite pizza topping?
Who is your lifetime hero?
I guess I’d have to say Dr. Demento.
How many pair of lederhosen do you have? (#’s 4-6, Ryan Swoverland)
Just one. And I’ve pretty much retired it since the “Polka Party” days.
Who drew the cover of your first album? Was it you? (Steven Shilling)
No, it was a Brazilian artist name Rogerio. We picked him because of his MAD Magazine-like drawing style.
I know you produce your own albums. Would you be willing to produce the album of another parody artist? (Ian Bonds)
Well, my dance card’s pretty full these days – but you can always submit any reasonable business proposition you like to my manager (Jay Levey at Imaginary Entertainment).
Why are you thanked on the inner sleeve of Quiet Riot’s QRIII album? (Eddie Schmidt)
I think it’s because I had invited them to be my special guests on “Weird Al’s Guide to the Grammys.” In one segment of the TV show, two guys from Quiet Riot share a limo (and pickled wieners) with myself, Kevin Cronin from REO Speedwagon, and Steve Allen.
If you hadn’t gotten permission from Coolio to do Amish Paradise, what would have been the feature cover for Bad Hair Day? (Jim Maciorowski)
Gee, I don’t know… I’m not sure that I would have put out “Gump” as the first single… maybe I would still be waiting to put out the album.
Back to theMidnight Star “Ask Al” Q&As for September/October, 1996
Are you ever going to write your autobiography, like Howard Stern did? (Eddie Schmidt)
If I were to write my autobiography, I doubt very much that it would be like Howard Stern did.
We know “One More Minute” was inspired by a real ex-girlfriend; Were any other of your boy-loses-girl songs also inspired by an unhappy romance? (Lisa Hut Jenson)
I don’t think I was specifically thinking of anybody when I wrote those other songs, but of course I’ve had a plethora of dysfunctional relationships to draw inspiration from.
What’s your favorite place to eat?
What’s your favorite cereal?
Organic raspberry mueslix.
How many different colors of socks do you have? (#’s 3-5, Ryan Swoverland)
Have you ever seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show with full audience participation? Did you like it? Did you dress up? Would you go again? (Bill Putt)
I believe I’ve seen RHPS three times in the theatre, twice with audience participation. I enjoyed it very much, but I didn’t dress up, and I don’t feel strongly compelled to go again – been there.
How did Jim West feel about not being in the Gump video? Did he want to be in it? (Steven Shilling)
I feel really bad that Jim wasn’t in the video. He was actually supposed to be in the video instead of Steve, since the part called for a guitar player. Jim literally lost the role because he had too much hair – our hair stylist said it would be nearly impossible to fit him in a short hair wig. Jim, as always, was a terrific sport about it – hopefully I’ll be able to feature his talents next time around.
Will you ever release the Al-TV specials on tape? (Ian Bonds)
Very, very doubtful. Most of the stuff on Al-TV (especially the earlier stuff) was never legally cleared – playing it on cable TV is one thing, but offering it for sale is quite another. Feel free to swap tapes with friends.
Are you surprised at the range of ages of your fans, from 5 to 85? Or was this expected?
I never suspect who my fans will be – as always, I just write what I personally think is funny and hope that other people will enjoy it as well.
Are you familiar with Peter Schickele and PDQ Bach, and how do you feel when he is referred to as the Weird Al of the classical world? (#’s 9-10, April Hassel)
I’m very familiar with PDQ Bach (he beat me out of several Grammys!) and enjoy Mr. Schickele’s work. I think that description of him is very flattering to me – I’m not sure how he would feel about it.
BONUS QUESTION: Boxers or briefs (Chris Sedtal)
At the moment, briefs…
Back to theMidnight Star “Ask Al” Q&As for July/August, 1996
Why do you give special thanks to Weezer when there is no parody or nothing of them (on BHD)? (Tony Olivas)
“Buddy Holly” by Weezer was originally in the Alternative Polka. In fact, it was completely recorded, and we were about to do the final mix when we got a call from Weezer’s management – apparently the song’s writer, Rivers Cuomo, decided for whatever reason that he didn’t want his song in my medley after all, so at the very last minute (after the “special thanks” had already been printed on the CD and cassette booklets) we had to physically cut the song out of the medley. I’m still kind of bummed about it – it sounded really cool.
Is it true Coolio is angry at you for some reason? (Aaron Layman)
I’ve had to answer this question many times already, but once again: There was apparently some major miscommunication between Coolio’s people and my people. I was under the impression that Coolio had given his blessing for me to do a parody of “Gangsta’s Paradise.” However, much to my surprise, Coolio made a statement to the press backstage at the Grammys, saying that he didn’t appreciate my “desecrating” his song, and that I should “stay away” from him. I don’t know if Coolio changed his mind about the parody, or if my record company just gave me some bad information – I don’t think I’ll ever know for sure what happened. I immediately sent Coolio a sincere letter of apology for the misunderstanding, but have to this date not heard back from him.
Why wasn’t “Green Eggs and Ham” on Bad Hair Day?
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get the proper clearance from the Dr. Seuss estate, so this will have to remain a “concert-only” favorite.
What are you saying backwards at the end of “I Remember Larry”? (#’s 3 & 4 Julie Weeden)
I believe it’s “Wow, you must have an awful lot of free time on your hands!”
What’s your first memory?
Getting spanked by the doctor. (Of course, I was 23 at the time.)
Are you nearsighted or farsighted?
Nearsighted. Actually, anybody that tries on my glasses says, “Wow, you’re blind!”
Do you color your hair? (#’s 5-7 Michelle San Angelo)
When you were a kid, what were your favorite TV shows? (Jeff Hoyt)
Cartoons, sitcoms, “The Twilight Zone”… actually, any time the illusion of motion was created by a cathode ray tube, I was there.
When you do your taxes, do you procrastinate? (Colin the Incredible)
No, I have my accountant do them right away.
Does it get annoying when people come up to you and want to meet you? (Steven Shiling)
Only if they’re rude, obnoxious or really drunk (“Hey man, can I give you a head butt?”). It’s never annoying to meet friendly, considerate people.
Have you ever worn contacts? (Carlotta Barnes)
No, I’ve never worn contacts. I got fitted for them last year, but it was just too traumatic for my sensitive eyes, so I’m sticking with glasses.
Back to theMidnight Star “Ask Al” Q&As for May/June, 1996
The April 1996 U Magazine interviewed Al but didn’t have space for all the questions and answers. Thanks to U’s Shad Powers who gave the Midnight Star permission to print the rest of the interview!
I saw you sporting a Coolio-esque hairdo at a music awards show; Is that a permanent thing?
I knew that I was going to be co-presenting with Coolio at the American Music Awards, so I just wanted my hair to bond with his.
What were your college years like? Where did you go, if at all?
I graduated with a degree in architecture from the California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. I remember next to nothing, but I can still print pretty neatly.
I’m guessing MTV has always been pretty cool to you, or at least pretty good for you… What do you think of the current MTV as opposed to the MTV of the ’80s?
You know, the weirdest thing happened to me the other day. I happened to turn on MTV, and they were playing a music video!
A lot of successful bands meet and evolve in college. Why do you think college is good for the creative musical process?
I’m sure that my songwriting ability would suffer immensely if it hadn’t been for those three years of calculus that I took in college.
A new spot on many college students’ road trips is the musical Mecca of Cleveland to visit the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. What do you think of this landmark, and do you expect to make it into the mighty Hall one day?
I think my chance of making it into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame is only slightly better than Milli Vanilli’s.
What kind of student were you in school? Troublemaker, geeky guy that always raised his hand, always asleep, smokin’ in the boys’ room, what?
I wasn’t a nerd in high school. I was King of the Nerds! Straight-A student, school valedictorian… even the teachers wanted to beat me up.
What do you think of the current movie scene? Do you feel UHF got snubbed by the Academy?
After recovering from the shock over UHF not even being nominated for best picture of 1989, I decided to completely dismiss the Oscars as being any kind of arbiter of quality entertainment.
What birth control devices do you condone?
I’ve always figured that my personality was an effective birth-control device.
A small college newspaper chose to call itself the Voice. New York’s big-time newspaper, the Village Voice, has taken exception to that and is threatening a lawsuit. Do you think that’s fair?
People today are lawsuit-crazy. I’m in the middle of trying to develop a TV show for myself, and I wanted to call it “Seinfeld” – but the stinking lawyers thought we might have “problems.” What is this world coming to?
Gender equity in college athletics is a big issue in this day and age. Any input?
I consider myself very liberal, pro-feminist and politically correct. Therefore, I see no reason why chicks and broads shouldn’t compete in college athletics.
Back to theMidnight Star “Ask Al” Q&As for March/April, 1996
What are the chances you’re ever gonna come to Europe for a concert?
Not great – it’s a very expensive proposition to take our entire production overseas. If we’re lucky we may be touring Australia for the first time this year, but we’re considerably more popular there than in Europe. Of course, if some European promoter wants us badly enough, anything is possible.
Has anything ever happened to you that nobody believed when you tried telling people about it later?
I still can’t get anybody to believe that Elvis came to my house in the middle of the night and mowed my lawn.
Do you think life evolved a) as some kind of biological accident; b) with the help of a superior being; c) in a fridge; or d) do you have your own theory?
Where does your inspiration come from? (#’s 1-4 Gideon Haberkorn)
I recently saw you on the American Music Awards. How long did it take you to get your hair like that? And how long to get it back to normal? (Tyler Herman)
It takes between 3 and 5 hours, depending on the number of braids. I’ve done it three times now (the album cover shoot, the AMA’s and the new video) and I really don’t recommend it to anyone with a fragile scalp… it HURTS! It takes about half as long to untangle it.
Do you collect anything (like stamps, Star Wars stuff, etc.)? (Colin the Incredible)
Well, I think my collection of Weird Al memorabilia is second only to Bermuda’s. Plus, I’m currently collecting mold in my refrigerator.
Which musical instrument do you wish you knew how to play? (Julie Prather)
I wish I knew how to play the guitar, so that every time I have to fake it for a video, I’d at least have clue as to what I should be doing.
Why was Waffle King left off the Off the Deep End album?
Okay, I think this is what happened: I had already written the originals for “Alapalooza” by the time we were finishing “Off the Deep End.” One of those originals was “I Was Only Kidding” and I was rightly concerned that the line “I really love you… not!” would be about as funny as “Where’s the beef?” by the time 1993 rolled around. And since there’s a ceiling on the number of songs I can put on an album, I decided to record IWOK and save “Waffle King” for the next album. And I put “Waffle King” on the flip side of “Smells Like Nirvana” single just in case there wasn’t going to be a next album. (Hey, you never know in this business!)
Do you have a tattoo? If not, would you consider getting one and what would you get? (Colin the Incredible)
I don’t have a tattoo and don’t plan on getting one, but if I did, I’d want a tattoo on my pancreas, so that if I ever had to have major exploratory surgery, the doctor would think I was really cool.
Your adult female fans see you as handsome and incredibly sexy. How do you see yourself? (Pam)
I use a mirror.
Back to theMidnight Star “Ask Al” Q&As for January, 1996
Do you know the Italian language? (Alfredo Cappello of Milan, Italy)
I only know a couple of handy catchphrases, like the translation for “Won’t you please shave off my eyebrows?”
Do you own a computer? If so, what kind? (David Zechiel)
It’s an IBM clone, 486.
How old were you when you quit believing in Santa Claus? (Julie Prather)
When you are writing lyrics, do you write them when you are all alone or do you have other people around? At what point do you start asking others what they think of the lyrics? Who is the first person you share the lyrics with? (Julie Prather)
Generally, I write the lyrics when I’m at home alone, often very late at night. Once I have a completed first draft of my lyrics, I’ll show them to a couple close friends like Joel Miller or Lynn Dickinson, who will in turn tell me if I’ve completely lost my mind.
Any plans yet with the screenplay you wrote? (Joe Krause)
No, and I wouldn’t hold my breath. I only wrote it because I figured nobody would believe I lived in L.A. if I didn’t have at least one unproduced screenplay gathering dust in a drawer.
What is your New Year’s resolution? (Nick Kraft)
Put out a stinking album as soon as possible.
If you are displeased with Scotti Bros. putting out as many compilations as regular albums, why stay with them? (Marty Lick)
I’ve got this little thing called a long-term contract…
What kind of shoes are you referring to in “Don’t Wear Those Shoes”?
Exactly the kind you thought I meant.
When you go to Taco Bell, what do you order? (Ryan Swoverland)
A bean burrito with green sauce and tomatoes, no cheese.
Is your daily schedule always completely filled, or do you sometimes find yourself at home in the evening watching some TV or reading a book for pleasure? (Dave Zechiel)
No matter how busy I am, I always find time to watch old Scott Baio movies on cable.
Back to theMidnight Star “Ask Al” Q&As for October/November, 1995
Does you band ever argue or disagree? (Mike Whelan)
Never. Never never ever. No sir.
If you are a vegetarian then why did you eat a twinkie-weiner sandwich in UHF? You must not really be a vegetarian, are you? (Steven Shilling)
I didn’t really become a vegetarian until three or four years ago. Nowadays I just eat a twinkie tofu weiners, but when we were shooting the movie, I had to eat about seven of the real article.
What kind of car do you drive?
A red one.
If you found out that you only had a week to live, what would you do for that week?
How many pairs of shoes do you own? (Beth Francik – #’s 3-5)
I don’t know, close to a hundred? Most of them are kind of old and cruddy, though.
Are you ticklish?
When you grow older, will you let your gray hair show or will you color your hair?
I’ll just shave it all off.
Have you thought about what you’ll do when (and if) you retire? (Michele Fritchie – #’s 6-7)
Set the alarm clock, turn off the light and tuck myself into bed.
Of all your albums, which is your favorite? (Bob Rodgers)
I seem to have a special place in my heart for the albums that sell the most copies.
Has the changing music scene (pop/country is now more rap/alternative, etc.) made it more difficult for you to do parodies? (Fearless Leader)
It’s not harder to write the parodies, but the largely prevailing rap/alternative “attitude” sometimes makes it difficult to get permissions.
Back to theMidnight Star “Ask Al” Q&As for September, 1995
How do your neighbors feel about living next door to a celebrity? (Mike Whelan)
How did you know my neighbors lived next door to Leslie Nielsen?
Are you a fan of Mystery Science Theatre 3000? (Doug Rand/Justin Pettway/Jonathan Rand)
I’ve been a fan of MST3K for a long time. In fact – (interesting bit of trivia) – Joel Hodgson was my original first choice to play Philo in “UHF,” but he was on some kind of self-imposed show business hiatus at the time.
I am trying to do parodies of my own. How do I get permission? (Ian Bonds)
Kids, don’t try this at home. Leave it to professionals — it’s dangerous work. But if you insist, the best bet is to contact the publisher of the original music.
I read that “Talk Soup” was going to be the new theme song for the E! Channel’s show of the same name. How come they never used it yet? (Laurie Webber)
Well, to put it bluntly, they kind of jerked me around. The producers of the show approached me, asking me to do a new theme song for the show. I wrote the lyrics (which they approved) and then recorded the song (which they said they “loved”). And then they never used it. Go figure.
Do you ever go out in disguise when you don’t want to be recognized or do you just be yourself and take your chances?
If I really want to disguise myself, I have to put in contact lenses, shave my mustache, cut off all my hair and wear a nondescript shirt. So if I’m just going out to get the mail or something, it’s usually not worth it.
Where are your parents from originally? And their parents? (#’s 5 & 6 – Michele Fritchie)
My dad was born in Kansas and his parents were from Yugoslavia. My mother was born in Kentucky and her parents were Italian and English.
What exercises do you do (if any) to keep yourself of healthy & limber status? (A.J. Orosco)
When I go on tour I get a 95-minute aerobic exercise every night. Other than that, I just try to exercise my best judgment.
What’s your favorite TV show? (Amie Hagler)
I guess my all-time favorite show was “Police Squad.”
Since the “Authorized Al” book and a lot of other Weird Al collectors’ items have gone out of print (like the videotape of UHF and the Compleat Al) why don’t you re-issue them? (Note: That question/request goes for some of the older T-shirts too, like the UHF shirt.) (Terrill Eugene Williams)
Well, I may be many things, but I’m not a book publisher or video distributor, so it’s hard for me to “re-issue” anything. If you know of a company that’s interested in doing it… we’ll talk. As for the T-shirts, it’s very difficult for us to keep more than a small handful in stock, so unfortunately the older ones will have to remain collectors’ items.
Back to theMidnight Star “Ask Al” Q&As for July, 1995
How old were you when you got your first pair of glasses? (Steven Shilling)
I think I was in the 4th grade… I don’t know, about 8?
What’s your favorite opening line when introducing yourself to or asking out an attractive female? (A.J. Orosco)
Hi, my name’s Al. Wanna go out?
Where do you like to go on vacation and once there, what are your favorite activities?
I tend to turn all my “business” trips into vacations – I rarely go someplace just for the sake of going there, although I’m thinking about going to Hawaii or Mexico this summer. I hear the cable TV there is great!
When you take a girl out on a date, where do you usually take her?
Fairly standard stuff – usually I’ll take a date to dinner, sometimes a movie. If she’s wearing the appropriate shoes I might take her for a midnight hike to the Hollywood sign. I don’t normally pull out the shoehorns and dental floss till at least the second date.
Have you ever considered getting married and having a family of your own? (#’s 3-5 Michele Fritchie)
Oh, it’ll probably happen someday… I’ve never been in much of a hurry to grow up.
Why did you cancel your Off the Deep End concert in Baltimore? (Editor’s Note: Why are some concerts canceled when other dates are added within the same tour?) (Ian Bonds)
I personally have never canceled a concert for any reason. If any show is canceled, it is because that show’s promoter decided to cancel it. Sometimes shows are booked and then canceled without me ever finding out about them.
Would you ever date a fan of yours? (Beth Francik)
Well, I’m certainly more inclined to be attracted to somebody who likes my work than someone who thinks I’m an idiot.
What religion are you? Would you call yourself a Christian? (“Lisa Hut” Jenson/Doug Rand/Justin Pettway/Jonathan Rand/Shonna Felice)
Now that Harvey the Wonder Hamster lives at MuchMusic in Canada, will he ever be seen again by Americans? (“Lisa Hut” Jenson)
If Harvey gets his green card, he’ll be coming back to the states regularly.
This is a collective question from various fans who have written in: Where do you get your Hawaiian/wild print shirts from? A lot of the fans would like to get some like yours but are having no luck finding them. Any suggestions? (Pam Ritchie)
I used to wear a lot of shirts made by a now-defunct company called “Burmys” – nowadays I buy a lot of shirts from “Jam’s World” – but most of my best shirts are ones I find in thrift shops and used clothing stores. I’ve also gotten quite a few from fans and concert promoters.
Back to theMidnight Star “Ask Al” Q&As for May, 1995
Are you addicted to anything except spuds? (Gideon Haberkorn)
Breathing in and out. I just can’t stop.
Has a wax figure been made of you for a museum?
No, but once an old girlfriend of mine did make a sculpture of me out of Play-doh.
Have you ever released music under an alias?
Yes, for the last several years, I’ve been releasing lame instrumental albums under the name “Kenny G.”
Is it difficult for you to find women who like you for you are and not how much money (they think) you have? (Julie Vaughn- #’s 2, 3, & 4)
You’ll never know how hard it is to find a woman who can overlook the whole money thing and just love me for my perfectly-shaped nostrils.
Is that absolutely gorgeous hair of yours a lot of trouble to care for? Do you have trouble combing out those curls? What kind of shampoo do you like best and how often do you get it cut?
Usually I finger-comb my hair, but every once in a while (about the time I start looking like a reggae musician) I need to use a real comb. This is not very fun, and usually takes half an hour or so. When I shampoo I usually use Nexxus products, and I get my hair cut at least once a year, whether I need it or not.
Why have you chosen to keep the same style of glasses all these years? Have you ever been tempted to try a different style, or perhaps some plastic frames? (Staff’s comment: YUCK!)
Instead of trying to re-invent myself every six months like Madonna, I prefer to keep my image the same, just so people can reassure themselves that there’s at least one thing that stays constant in this crazy world. Actually, around 1990, I wore plastic frames when I was trying to be more “incognito,” but I felt kinda stupid.
Aside from when you were born, have you ever been hospitalized?
Not to my knowledge.
Do you ever shop at K-Mart?
Only to buy my animal-print bikini underwear.
Do you put up a Christmas tree at your house and if so is it a fake one or do you buy a real tree? (Cindy Caturia- #’s 5, 6, 7, 8, & 9)
I have a tiny fake Christmas tree that dances when you sing to it.
There are a LOT of fans out here who would love to see a live album & video from one (or more) of your tours. Do you think you’ll ever make us happy and release something like that? Pam Ritchie (Speaking for many, many people who also yearn for a “live” Al video!)
I would have to say probably not, although you never know what my wacky record company might insist on someday. The food medley in particular would be nearly impossible to get legal clearance for (because, among other reasons, it contains a few “unauthorized” parodies). The other songs performed live in concert stay pretty close to the original arrangements, and I think there’s more than enough Al compilations floating around already, so I’d probably veto the idea of a live album. (Of course, if MTV ever wanted to do a Weird Al Unplugged, I might have to reconsider.) In the meantime, go ahead and bootleg the shows – just don’t let ME catch you!
Back to theMidnight Star “Ask Al” Q&As for March, 1995
When you send out autographed photographs, do you sign them personally or have a secretary do it?
The autographs are always authentic, although I may have signed it before reading the letter requesting it. All mail coming in to CPFA is first screened by an assistant, who burns the song suggestions, defuses the mail bombs, and responds appropriately to everything else, sometimes sending a pre-autographed picture, sometimes forwarding the letter to me for a more personal response. I do read all my mail eventually, but it may be months or a year after I’ve received it, depending on my schedule.
Do you enjoy the Midnight Star since it is run by devoted fans and headed by the greatest leader a newsletter could have? (Questions 1&2 by Matthew Horn)
Yes, I’m the luckiest boy in the worrrrrrld!
What do you see yourself doing in 20 years? (Julie Vaughn)
Drooling all over myself.
If you could be any animal, what would it be and why?
I would be a one-celled animal, like an amoeba. I just like to keep things simple.
If you could be anything over again in your childhood or career, what would it be (and why)? (#’s 4 & 5 by Annie Hagler)
I would be Speed Racer- cause he’s the coolest!
Do you like to cook? Do you regularly cook meals for yourself or do you eat like a bachelor and just graze all day? What do you eat for breakfast?
I don’t like to cook anything that requires more than one step. I graze a lot, use the microwave on occasion, and eat out whenever I get the chance. For breakfast (if I wake up that early), I usually just have juice, or a bowl of organic raspberry muesli in vanilla soy milk.
Is there anything you did naughty as a boy that you never got caught for and still no one knows about it that you could confess to your forgiving fans right now? (Fearless Leader’s comment: And that you wouldn’t mind your mother knowing about?!?!?!?)
No. Absolutely nothing. I was perfect in every way. With the exception of that one tiny train-derailing incident.
If you weren’t in showbiz, would you continue to live in the Los Angeles area or would you ever consider moving away to another place? If so, where would that be?
I grew up in L.A., and I feel comfortable here, so I’m probably not moving anytime soon. If I did move out of L.A., I’d probably stay in California – San Diego and the Bay Area are both nice. I love Toronto too. I’d even consider moving to Maryland if I had a good enough reason.
Does the threat of earthquakes (and mudslides, brushfires, etc.) bother you at all?
I look forward to natural disasters. I used to go tobogganing when I was a kid, so it should be a real blast when my house finally slides down the hill.
Do you REALLY have a pet hamster? Why don’t you have any big pets like a dog? You look like a dog kind of guy. Would you say you’re an animal lover or not? (#’s 6-10 Cindy Caturia)
I am an animal lover, and yes, I did have a dog named China when I was growing up. I would find it difficult to have a pet nowadays, because I live by myself, and I’m on the road sometimes for months, during which time a pet would probably get pretty hungry.
If you could take one flavour of yogurt with you to a desert island for 163 days, what flavour would it be? Would it have any artificial colours? (Dylan B. from Australia)
Boysenberry – fruit on the bottom – injected with every color not found in nature.
Back to theMidnight Star “Ask Al” Q&As for January, 1995
Are you farsighted or nearsighted? (Ken Innes)
Why haven’t you had “School Cafeteria” on any album besides the 45 with “My Bologna” on the opposite side?
Frankly, I’m a little embarrassed by the really early stuff, and I don’t have any burning desire to flaunt my musical shortcomings by releasing those songs on an album. If you’re really dying to find out what I sounded like as a teenager, I understand there’s a “rarities” tape floating around…
Are you thinking of making an updated version of “The Authorized Al” anytime in the future? (Matthew Horn)
Well, the booklet in the box set is basically an updated version of the “Authorized Al,” only (for the first time) historically accurate. I should mention that “Close Personal Friends of Al” is making the booklet available separately, because I didn’t want to force fans into buying the box set if they already had the other albums.
Have you ever regretted becoming a music star?
No, it’s been lot of fun. Sometimes I wish I could turn the fame on and off like a light switch, but overall I get a kick out of it. More fun than being an architect, I bet.
How come you are the only guy in California who isn’t tan?
I’m not. I met this guy Bob from Oakland a couple of years ago, and he was just as white as me. Don’t you know that the sun’s deadly rays can cause brain damage? Don’t you watch “Baywatch”?
Have you ever been physically hurt by a fan?
Once I received a rather painful headbutt by an overzealous, drunk fan, but by and large, I’ve never had much of a problem. I think the solution is staying away from really drunk idiots.
If you had super powers, would you be a hero or a villain and what would you call yourself?
I’d be a hero and I’d call myself… Al.
What made you decide to become a vegan (total vegetarian)?
An old girlfriend of mine gave me a book called “Diet for a New America” and it made what I thought was a very compelling argument for a strict vegetarian diet. So now I still sing “My Bologna,” but I don’t really mean it!
How many accordions have you owned over the years and how many do you have now? (Julie Vaughn)
I’ve smashed and burned a few accordions over the years for dramatic effect – I’m not sure how many I’ve owned. Currently I have three, although the one I always use is the one I’ve had since I was seven years old.
Back to theMidnight Star “Ask Al” Q&As for October, 1994
Did you read comic books as a kid (or today)? What were/are your favorite comics?
I can spend hours browsing in comic stores. As a kid I was especially partial to MAD Magazine. I would scour used magazine stores for back issues – it was definitely a big early influence.
Aside from comics, what kind of books do you like to read? Do you have a favorite book?
I find that I don’t read a lot of novels these days – the last one I read was “Jurassic Park” (for obvious reasons). My favorite book used to be “Circus McGurkus” by Dr. Seuss. But I haven’t read it in about thirty years.
You seem talented enough to produce any kind of music you choose; Have you ever considered going to straight pop or rock where you could make a bazillion dollars with a more mainstream approach? Not that I want you to change, but why do you choose instead to skewer pop culture? Is it just too much fun?
I love doing the kind of music that I do, and I think there’s already enough people in the world that make “unfunny” music. I’m happy with my niche.
Your hair, clothes and mustache are so recognizable; Do you ever regret making those your “signature” and do you sometimes consider changing your image?
The only drag is, sometimes I get an urge in the middle of the night to shave my head and wear a muu muu. But I know that would confuse countless dozens of fans. So I don’t.
What do you consider your greatest strength?
I suppose that would be my songwriting. I’ve never considered myself a great singer, although I think I’m a lot better than I was ten years ago.
What was the happiest day of your life (so far)?
The day I was born. Man, it was getting so stuffy in there.
You’re known by your wild weird character when you’re “onstage.” Deep down inside, when you’re not “on,” do you consider yourself an extrovert or an introvert?
I’m kinda schizo – I’m really a little of both. It just depends on what time of the day you catch me in.
Did you attend your high school’s 10th or 15th year reunions?
No. I think I must have been on the road or something. Yeah, that’s it.
Did you have any control over the casting in UHF?
Yes. Jay Levey and I were extremely involved in the casting process. I wrote the part of Stanley Spadowski with Michael Richards in mind.
Why Dick Van Patten?
Back to theMidnight Star “Ask Al” Q&As for July, 1994
What is the most memorable thing a fan has ever done for you? (Darlene Brown)
I guess I’d have to say, starting this newsletter!
Why haven’t you ever been on Saturday Night Live? We think you’d be great. (Tonya, Wesley & Tracy Wright; Terrell E. Williams)
Thanks. I think the problem is, you have to be asked first.
Have you ever tried to write a parody of a song that has already been parodied? (R.J. Witcher)
That’s been the case a number of times, but I always had the advantage of being on a major record label.
On bass virtuoso Stuart Hemm’s 1st solo album “Radio Free Albemuth,” there is a song called “Country Music (A Night in Hell).” At the very end of the track, an extremely Al-like voice yells, “Hey! Play a polka!” I’d like to know if that is really you, or just an amazing facsimile.
Unless he sampled it from somewhere, I would have to guess that it’s just an amazing facsimile.
As you appear as a Martian DJ in the introductory video for the “Red Planet Race” game, I’m curious about how you hooked up with the folks that produced this virtual reality piece, and what it was like to do the video? (#s 4&5 Boris – from Prodigy)
An agent that was (briefly) representing me got me an audition with the folks at Virtual World, who happened to be fans and hired me for the role of Freeman Jack. They were a pleasure to work with. It was just a couple of hours’ work on a soundstage in North Hollywood – I remember the wardrobe was pretty hot and cumbersome.
Where did the name “Imaginary Entertainment come from? (Lois Ritchie)
From the brain of Jay Levey. (It’s his company.)
Do you still have the leather jacket you wore in the George Michael section of the UHF video? (Carlotta Barnes (the shy one))
I gave it away to a friend of mine a couple of years ago.
Are you farsighted of nearsighted? (Ken Innes)
Do you like Spam?
Being a vegetarian, I can’t honestly say that I eat a whole lot of it.
What did you do on your 27th birthday? (#s 9 & 10, Gideon Haberkorn)
Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head.
Back to theMidnight Star “Ask Al” Q&As for April, 1994
I wonder, which (body) organ would you consider the funniest? Which has the most intrinsic humor? (Don Kurtycz, MD)
If you ever have a use in a video for a restored ’64 Oldsmobile, would you consider using mine? It could hold your entire band – instruments and all! (How-weird)
We’ll let you know…
What is your favorite breed of cat? Do you, or have you, ever owned a cat? (27 Cat fanciers)
I’ve never owned a cat, but if I did it would be a Peruvian Bone-Cruncher.
What are/were your parent’s occupations?
Dad was a street-crossing guard, and mom’s a domestic engineer.
What did your parent think of your music when you started out, and what do they think of it now? (Especially after they spent all that good money on your education!)
They’ve always been supportive, and now I think they get a kick out of all the attention they’re getting.
What do you look for in a girlfriend?
I judge a woman solely by the size and shape of her nostrils.
What are your pet peeves – besides Prince? (Questions #4,5,6,&7 from Michelle Fritchie)
War, plague, famine & pestilence.
When I get depressed, I like to watch old Abbott and Costello movies to cheer myself up. What comedies are your favorites? (Susan Marshall)
I’m partial to the Z.A.Z. comedies (Airplane!, Top Secret, etc.) (made by the Zucker brothers…Ed.)
How on earth did you end up working in a mailroom after graduating from college with a degree in architecture? (Fearless Leader)
I decided about my 3rd year in college that I didn’t really want to be an architect after all, but I couldn’t think of a better idea at the time, so I hung around and graduated.
Rumor has it you like gaming – both role-playing & board games. If this is true, do you like the Dragon Lance series? (Staff of the MS)
I have to admit I’m not familiar with it. Mostly I waste a lot of time playing computer games like “Doom” and “Wolfenstein 3-D.”
Back to theMidnight Star “Ask Al” Q&As for January, 1994
What is “Al” short for? Is it Alex, Alvin, Allen, or maybe even Alfonso? Please tell me! (Peter Carlin)
Al is short for Alfred.
When are you going to come out with a “Live in Concert” album? (Terrill Williams)
Probably never. But then again, I never thought my record company would force that “Food” album on me. So I guess I can’t say for sure.
Is that picture of you on the inside of ALAPALOOZA supposed to resemble Michael Crichton’s picture on the Jurassic Park novel? (Brandon Young)
No, the photographer, Rocky Schenck, happens to specialize in “glamour” shots, and I thought it would be fun to try. Kinda scary, huh?
Why do you thank John Kricfalusi in the liner notes of ALAPALOOZA? (Brandon Young)
For being a modern-day inspiration to me. He also picked up the check the last time we had dinner.
I’ve noticed that you’re very physically limber. What’s the strangest position you’ve ever gotten yourself into? (Patricia Catchouny)
Opening for the Monkees.
Could I be in a music video with you & Michael Richards? You two are the funniest people I know. (Fay Snider)
Do you have any children and if so did you really take them to see the Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota?
No. I’ve never been to Darwin, Minnesota, but I hear that since the song came out, they have built a “Twine Ball Inn” and have postcards that say “Greetings from the Twine Ball, wish you were here.”
Are you The God, or just A God? (David J. Cooper)
(There was no comment written under this question. Ed.)
When and why did you start writing parody songs? (Nate Cherrier)
Probably when I was 7 or 8. But there was nothing worth remembering.
Have you ever tried to do a parody of a Styx or Cheap Trick song? (Mrs. Hazander)
No, not yet.
What thoughts were going through you mind when you were up there on top of that sway pole (for the Circus of the Stars)? (Semi-Fearless Leader)
“Boy… the things I’ll do for fifty bucks!”
What sort of music do you like to listen to when you want to be relaxed and/or entertained? (Wrenne Hazard)
Aerosmith, B-52s, Beatles, Devo, Peter Gabriel, Kinks, Oingo Boingo, R.E.M., Rolling Stones, Talking Heads, They Might Be Giants, Too Much Joy, The Who, Frank Zappa, and of course All Things Demented.
Back to the