DID YOU READ

A Definitive, Inarguable Ranking of Every Weird Al Album

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No comedy musician has sustained a career with the relentless furor of “Weird Al” Yankovic. For almost 40 years, he’s skewered the hits of the day with his trademark nasal voice and pumping accordion. Without him, he wouldn’t have the artists featured on CollegeHumor’s Comedy Music Hall of Fame. To get you ready for his induction tonight, and because as humans it is in our nature to bring order to chaos, we felt it appropriate to rank Al’s entire oeuvre from worst to best for your listening pleasure. Note: This is studio albums only, not compilations or EPs or the Peter and the Wolf collaboration album he did with Wendy Carlos, so don’t get sassy.

14. Poodle Hat

The early ’00s were a pretty dire time for music, and Al’s 2003 release Poodle Hat reflects that with an uneven album of rap rock and Avril Lavigne parodies. (“Trash Day,” a tepid spoof of Nelly’s “Hot in Here,” includes lines like “There’s something rotten here/you better hold your nose.”) The disc’s only single, “eBay,” was a flaccid Backstreet Boys parody, and it’s one of only three Weird Al releases to not go gold on the Billboard charts. The only high point is the polka medley, which includes an unforgettable bit of “Chop Suey” by System of a Down.


13. Polka Party!

Al had his first commercial misstep with this 1986 release, which featured formulaic takes on a number of mid-’80s hits. His record company insisted he spoof another artist on the label for the album’s single, so we got the James Brown riff “Living With A Hernia.” When the album flopped, Al thought it was going to be the end of his career.


12. Running With Scissors

Al bailed from long-time label Scotti Brothers at the end of the ’90s after his career was in a tailspin, but it wasn’t enough to save this disappointing disc. 1999’s Running With Scissors seems like a rush job, with the geek-pandering “The Saga Begins” (set to the tune of “American Pie”) the biggest hit. Again, source material is a problem – when the artists you’re parodying include Puff Daddy and the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, your album’s gonna suck, daddy-o.


11. UHF Soundtrack

Al’s 1989 movie effort UHF is a cult classic, but the soundtrack album doesn’t fare so well. The Dire Straits/Beverly Hillbillies mash-up is one joke stretched out way too long (and suffers without the video’s neat visuals), and the rest of the material hasn’t aged well. One track of note is “Isle Thing,” Al’s first rap parody which spoofs Tone Loc’s “Wild Thing.”


10. Alpocalypse

It took almost five years for Yankovic to put together 2011’s Alpocalypse, and taking away the up-to-the- minute nature of his parodies is the kiss of death. This album’s not technically “bad,” per se, it just doesn’t have any real reason to exist. The drama around Lady Gaga’s management denying him permission to parody her was more interesting than the song (“Perform This Way”) itself. One high point was the variety of animated videos created by Bill Plympton, Liam Lynch and others for many of the tracks.


9. “Weird Al” Yankovic

Al’s self-titled debut was released in 1983, and while it was a strong offering and featured four singles, it’s obvious that this was an artist who hadn’t realized his true potential. While the instrumentation is primitive, with the accordion featured on every track, the album has a low-fi charm and presence of an all-time classic (“Another One Rides The Bus”) is enough to make it a must-listen.


8. Bad Hair Day

“Weird Al” had a hard time adapting to the rapidly-changing face of music in the mid-’90s, but Bad Hair Day is perhaps his best effort from that era. Some of the tracks are forgettable (remember U2’s song from the Batman Forever soundtrack? What about Al’s dental-themed parody of it?), but the Coolio spoof (“Amish Paradise”) pissed off the rapper so much that Al feared for his life.


7. Alapalooza

Al’s 1993 album came only a year after Off the Deep End, and its rushed quality makes it a bit of a mixed bag. Doing a “Jurassic Park” spoof set to the tune of “MacArthur Park” is pretty genius, but parodies of Billy Ray Cyrus and Talk Soup (oddly enough Al’s song was originally intended to be the theme song for the long-running E! clip show) haven’t aged very well.


6. Straight Outta Lynwood

After a fallow period, Al came roaring back in 2006 with the biggest hit of his career to date, the Chamillionaire parody “White & Nerdy.” Tackling R. Kelly’s “Trapped In The Closet,” a song so ludicrous it almost defies parody, put the album over the top. Boo to James Blunt, who nixed a parody called “You’re Pitiful” from the album (listen to it here), but his career is dead now anyway.


5. Even Worse

Al went back to the Michael Jackson well with “Fat,” and it created one of his most unforgettable videos ever. The rest of the LP is solid as well, with Yankovic hitting his stride with originals like “Stuck in a Closet With Vanna White.” Both Prince and George Michael turned him down when he asked for parody rights, making us weep for what could’ve been.


4. Mandatory Fun

Al’s 2014 triumph proved that the old dog still has tricks in him. On release, this platter of parodies of everyone from Iggy Azalea to Crosby, Stills & Nash shot to #1 on the Billboard charts – a first for any comedy LP – and the material is wall-to-wall solid. Al sampled from the entire history of pop for this one, nailing Imagine Dragons with the same vigor that he does a nine-minute Cat Stevens spoof.


3. Off the Deep End

After a downturn in his popularity post-UHF, Al took a few years and came back stronger than ever with Off the Deep End, satirizing the ludicrousness of the grunge era in classic style. “Smells Like Nirvana” nailed the Seattle sound at the perfect time, and the other parodies nailed ’90s stalwarts like NKOTB and MC Hammer.


2. Dare to Be Stupid

For all of Al’s success since, it’s inarguable that his heyday was probably the mid-’80s. His third release, Dare to Be Stupid, has him at the height of his powers. After “Eat It” brought him mainstream fame, Al became more ambitious with the follow-up. The Devo pastiche title track was so good that Mark Mothersbaugh called it “the most beautiful thing I have ever heard.” And it gave us “Yoda,” the Star Wars spoof that still inspires singalongs at Al’s concerts.


1. In 3-D

1984 was the moment that “Weird Al” broke through to the collective consciousness, and even 31 years later Weird Al Yankovic In 3-D still holds up. Part of it is due to the source material – Michael Jackson, The Police, Bob Marley – and the rest is due to Al coming in to his own as a confident parodist. This album also marked the first of Yankovic’s polka medleys, which would become a staple on every album to come.

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Grow TFU

Adulting Like You Mean It

Commuters makes its debut on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Jared Warner, Nick Ciavarella, and Tim Dean were once a part of Murderfist, a group of comedy writers, actors, producers, parents, and reluctant adults. Together with InstaMiniSeries’s Nikki Borges, they’re making their IFC Comedy Crib debut with the refreshingly-honest and joyfully-hilarious Commuters. The webseries follows thirtysomethings Harris and Olivia as they brave the waters of true adulthood, and it’s right on point.

Jared, Nick, Nikki and Tim were kind enough to answer a few questions about Commuters for us. Here’s a snippet of that conversation…

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IFC: How would you describe Commuters to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Nick: Two 30-somethings leave the Brooklyn life behind, and move to the New Jersey suburbs in a forced attempt to “grow up.” But they soon find out they’ve got a long way to go to get to where they want to be.

IFC: How would you describe Commuters to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jared: It’s a show about how f*cking stupid people who think they are smart can be.

IFC: What’s your origin story? When did you all meet and how long have you been working together?

Jared: Nick, Tim, and I were all in the sketch group Murderfist since, what, like 2004? God. Anyway, Tim and Nick left the group to pursue other frivolous things, like children and careers, but we all enjoyed writing together and kept at it. We were always more interested in storytelling than sketch comedy lends itself to, which led to our webseries Jared Posts A Personal. That was a show about being in your 20s and embracing the chaos of being young in the city. Commuters is the counterpoint, i guess. Our director Adam worked at Borders (~THE PAST!!~) with Tim, came out to a Murderfist show once, and we’ve kept him imprisoned ever since.

IFC: What was the genesis of Commuters?

Tim: Jared had an idea for a series about the more realistic, less romantic aspects of being in a serious relationship.  I moved out of the city to the suburbs and Nick got engaged out in LA.   We sort of combined all of those facets and Commuters was the end result.

IFC: How would Harris describe Olivia?

Jared: Olivia is the smartest, coolest, hottest person in the world, and Harris can’t believe he gets to be with her, even though she does overreact to everything and has no chill. Like seriously, ease up. It doesn’t always have to be ‘a thing.’

IFC: How would Olivia describe Harris?

Nikki:  Harris is smart, confident with a dry sense of humor but he’s also kind of a major chicken shit…. Kind of like if Han Solo and Barney Rubble had a baby.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Nikki:  I think this is the most accurate portrayal of what a modern relationship looks like. Expectations for what your life is ‘supposed to look like’ are confusing and often a let down but when you’re married to your best friend, it’s going to be ok because you will always find a way to make each other laugh.

IFC: Is the exciting life of NYC twentysomethings a sweet dream from which we all must awake, or is it a nightmare that we don’t realize is happening until it’s over?

Tim: Now that i’ve spent time living in the suburbs, helping to raise a two year old, y’all city folk have no fucking clue how great you’ve got it.

Nikki: I think of it similar to how I think about college. There’s a time and age for it to be glorious but no one wants to hang out with that 7th year senior. Luckily, NYC is so multifaceted that you can still have an exciting life here but it doesn’t have to be just what the twentysomethings are doing (thank god).

Jared: New York City is a garbage fire.

See the whole season of Commuters right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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C'mon Fellas

A Man Mansplains To Men

Why Baroness von Sketch Show is a must-see.

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Mansplaining is when a man takes it upon himself to explain something to a woman that she already knows. It happens a lot, but it’s not going to happen here. Ladies, go ahead and skip to the end of this post to watch a free episode of IFC’s latest addition, Baroness von Sketch Show.

However, if you’re a man, you might actually benefit from a good mansplanation. So take a knee, lean in, and absorb the following wisdom.

No Dicks

Baroness von Sketch Show is made entirely by women, therefore this show isn’t focused on men. Can you believe it? I know what you’re thinking: how will we know when to laugh if the jokes aren’t viewed through the dusty lens of the patriarchy? Where are the thinly veiled penis jokes? Am I a bad person? In order: you will, nowhere, and yes.

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Huge Balls

Did you know that there’s more to life than poop jokes, sex jokes, body part jokes? I mean, those things are all really good things, natch, and totally edgy. But Baroness von Sketch Show does something even edgier. It holds up a brutal funhouse mirror to our everyday life. This is a bulls**t world we made, fellas.

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Oh Canada

After you watch the Canadian powerhouses of Baroness von Sketch Show and think to yourself “Dear god, this is so real” and “I’ve gotta talk about this,” do yourself a favor and think a-boot your options: Refrain from sharing your sage wisdom with any woman anywhere (believe us, she gets it). Instead, tell a fellow bro and get the mansplaining out of your system while also spreading the word about a great show.

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Dudes, that’s the deal.
Women, start reading again here:


Check out the preview episode of Baroness von Sketch Show and watch the series premiere August 2 on IFC.

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Happy Tears

Binge Don’t Cringe

Catch up on episodes of Documentary Now! and Portlandia.

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Photo Credit: GIFs via GIPHY

A brain can only take so much.

Every five minutes, all day, every day, ludicrously stressful headlines push our mental limits as we struggle to adapt to a reality that seems increasingly less real. What’s a mind to do when simple denial just isn’t good enough anymore?

Radical suggestion: repeal and replace. And by that we mean take all the bad news that keeps you up at night, press pause, and substitute it with some genuine (not nervous, for a change) laughter. Here are some of the issues on our mind.

Gender Inequality

Feminist bookstore owners by day, still feminist bookstore owners by night, Toni and Candace show the male gaze who’s boss. Learn about their origin story (SPOILER: there’s an epic dance battle) and see what happens when their own brand of empowerment gets out of hand.

Healthcare

From Candace’s heart attack to the rise of the rawvolution, this Portlandia episode proves that healthcare is vital.

Peaceful Protests

Too many online petitions, too little time? Get WOKE with Fred and Carrie when they learn how to protest.

What Could Have Been

Can’t say the name “Clinton” without bursting into tears? Documentary Now!’s masterfully political “The Bunker” sheds a cozy new light on the house that Bill and Hill built. Just pretend you don’t know how the story really ends.

Fake News

A healthy way to break the high-drama news cycle is to switch over to “Dronez”, which has all the thrills of ubiquitous adventure journalism without any of the customary depression.

The more you watch, the better you feel. So get started on past episodes of Documentary Now! and Portlandia right now at IFC.com and the IFC app.

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