Trivia Minute October 23, 2015

202: “Weird Al” Yankovic

by Marcus Michelson
WeirdAl
“Weird Al” Yankovic poses with his Grammy Award in 2015.

Today is the 56th birthday of musician and actor “Weird Al” Yankovic.

Here are some things you may not have known about him.

Alfred Matthew Yankovic was born and raised in the Los Angeles suburbs. He had his first accordion lesson the day before his sixth birthday, making yesterday the 50th anniversary of his accordion career. At the age of 15, he was the valedictorian of his senior class at Lynwood High School and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

He earned his nickname of “Weird Al” while at Cal Poly and made his live radio debut on “The Dr. Demento Show” in 1980, playing “Another One Rides the Bus,” a parody of Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.” Seven months later he played the song on NBC’s “The Tomorrow Show” with Tom Snyder.

In 1983, Yankovic released his self-titled debut album, which included “My Bologna,” a send-up of “My Sharona” by The Knack, and “Ricky,” a parody of “Mickey” by Toni Basil. A year later “‘Weird Al’ Yankovic in 3D” was released which included “Eat It” derived from Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” which became his only No. 1 hit in any country when it went to the top of the charts in Australia. It went to No. 12 in the United States.

Other notable parodies included “Like a Surgeon,” “Living with a Hernia,” “Fat,” and “Smells Like Nirvana.”

In 1989, Yankovic wrote and starred in the film “UHF,” about a daydreamer who is put in charge of a low-power television station. He increases the station’s ratings with wacky programming that raises the ire of the mean owner of the network affiliate in town. The station shows commericals for “Spatula City,” “Plots ‘R Us Mortuary Service,” “Gandhi II” and “Conan the Librarian,” and shows such as “Wheel of Fish” and “Stanley Spadowski’s Clubhouse.” The film was a modest box office success, but has become a cult favorite on video tape and DVD.

In 1996 Yankovic was involved in a controversy when he received approval to parody Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” with “Amish Paradise.” Coolio was angered by the parody, but never pursued legal action. In 2014, Coolio apologized for the controversy and said the parody was actually funny.

In 2009, Yankovic was named the top artist that should be considered for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in a poll of Rolling Stone magazine readers. He has also been the subject of a campaign to headline the Super Bowl halftime show. Both campaigns have so far been unsuccessful.

Our question, “Living With a Hernia” was a parody of what song by which artist?

Today is National Day in Hungary. In the United States, it’s unofficially National Boston Cream Pie Day and National TV Talk Show Host Day. It’s the birthday of Johnny Carson, directos Ang Lee and Sam Raimi, soccer great Pele and golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez.

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