"Weird Al" Yankovic @ Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Arizona State Fair, Tuesday, October 16 (with cheeky interview bonus)

Interview with Weird Al by Niki D’Andrea Concert review by Niki D’Andrea’s eight-year-old inner child

Rather than espouse the many virtues of Weird Al Yankovic’s live show, I’ve elected to let my inner child write a brief “review” of the spectacle and follow it up with an off-the-wall, exclusive interview I had with Weird Al a couple weeks before his Phoenix show.

The review: Weird Al was awesome! He was showing all these funny movie clips on the screen before he came out, like some guy on a phone that just kept screaming “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” and this guy falling really funny, and something that looked like a snail coming out of its shell, and then he came out and sang some songs -- and there was a bubble machine -- but he kept going backstage to change, and when he did, they’d show more stuff on the screen, like Weird Al on The Simpsons and these funny pretend interviews he did with Eminem and K-Fed, where’s he’s totally making fun of them. And he sang that Star Wars song about the small fry who becomes a Jedi and he had all these Stormtroopers onstage with him, and then Darth Vader came out, and it was really cool. And he did that Amish song and the “Fat” song and a bunch of other stuff that was really awesome, and then he said goodnight and left. But then he came back, and he was singing, “We all have cell phones, so let’s get real” over and over and everybody was waving their cell phones everywhere, and then he did this really long song where he was screaming about how he hated sauerkraut. I hate sauerkraut, too. Then there was a big explosion of glitter and stuff over the crowd. Weird Al was awesome!

An image from Weird Al's latest album, Straight Outta Lynwood.

The interview: (Conducted by phone a couple weeks prior to the show. We begin with me asking Weird Al to go on some roller coasters with me when he’s in town to perform at the fair).

Weird Al: I love playing the fair and I love roller coasters, but it’s hard to be incognito. I tend to draw a crowd, so I usually just stay backstage at the show. Me: How do you pick your parodies? Do you go for songs that are inherently funny? Weird Al: It helps if the original song isn’t that silly to begin with. It makes the parody funnier. But I have done some songs that were somewhat silly to begin with, like [R. Kelly’s] “Trapped in the Closet,” which is about as silly as a pop song can be. Me: I read that when Kurt Cobain saw the video for “Smells Like Nirvana,” he called you a musical genius. What do you think about that? Weird Al: That’s the most flattering thing I could imagine. Just that he was even thinking of me, that I was going through his mind. Me: Have you ever had any costume malfunctions onstage? Weird Al: Sometimes, zippers don’t work on breakaway costumes, which is always awkward. I’ve fallen off the stage in my “Fat” costume before because I couldn’t see where the ledge was, which was probably horrifying to the audience. Me: Okay, I have to tell you about this totally random dream I had about you a few years ago. In this dream, you and I met up in New York City and went roller skating together. Nothing unusual, except that we were skating through these underground tunnels -- they were like these empty, ancient streets beneath NYC, but there were strobe lights hanging everywhere, a sound system, and fully functional, modern bathrooms. And they were huge, colorful restrooms. And we were roller skating through them. Weird Al: That sounds fun, actually. If we’re ever in New York at the same time, we’ll have to do that. Me: If a famous musician was going to do a parody of Weird Al, and you could choose the musician, who would you pick to parody you? Weird Al: [Much laughter and then a long pause, before...] Bono! Let’s go with Bono, just because that would be too bizarre. You know, at some televised awards ceremony, somebody asked Bono if I was one of his big musical influences, and he said, “Yeah, sure.” I’m pretty sure he was joking. Me: Why is the accordion so sexy? Weird Al: Is it the in-and-out motion? I don’t know. I think my parents wanted me to take up the accordion so I could be a chick magnet.


Shameless plug: You can read more about the Weird Al/State Fair experience in the upcoming “Niki at Nite” column in the November 1, 2007 issue of Phoenix New Times

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