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10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Classic Weird Al Comedy ‘UHF’

UHF Main

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Able to churn out parody hits like clockwork every few years, shift genres with the flick of the accordion, and possess enough sincerity to circle the globe, “Weird Al” Yankovic is not only enjoyed, but beloved by millions — practically everyone under the age of 40 can legitimately say they grew up loving him and his work.

So it’s no surprise that 1989’s fun-loving UHF has generated a sizable cult following. Featuring the likes of Michael Richards, Fran Drescher, Kevin McCarthy, Gedde Watanabe, and a slew of oddball characters, the movie is a delightful and endlessly quotable time capsule to the close of 1980s pop culture.

To get you ready for Al’s latest appearance on Comedy Bang! Bang!, here are 10 things you may not have known about the hilarious cult comedy UHF.

1. The Spatula City billboard confused motorists for months.

1. Spatula City

Orion Pictures

Promoting the world-famous outlet shop where folks can go for all their spatula needs, the Spatula City billboard was erected for the film’s production alongside a seldom-traveled highway. Given the undesirable advertising location, the space wasn’t repurchased after the production’s rental period ran out, leaving the utensil-themed ad up and motorists scratching their heads — and occasionally redirecting their route — for months.


2. Emo Philips still reaps residuals for his small role.

2. Emo Philips

Orion Pictures

Despite his brief screen time as an accident-prone shop teacher, lanky falsetto comedian Emo Philips still receives residual checks from the Screen Actors Guild for his role in UHF. During VH1’s Behind the Music episode on Weird Al, Philips showed off a check for a whopping 30 cents — proving what decades of quoting “Is my face red!” is really worth to bottom-liners.


3. Sylvester Stallone was set to make a cameo.

3. Rambo

Orion Pictures

Yankovic dons a muscle-bound rubber torso for an extended Rambo fantasy/parody wherein he rents a helicopter from a booth worker to save Stanley Spadowski (Michael Richards). Although played by a non-speaking extra in the film, the booth worker role was set to be played by Rambo himself, Sylvester Stallone, who agreed to appear for the cameo. Scheduling conflicts, unfortunately, prevented Weird Al and Rambo from appearing onscreen together.


4. Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler plays guitar in the “Beverly Hillbillies/Money For Nothing” parody song.

4. Dire Straits

Orion Pictures

Utilizing state-of-the-art (for the time) computer graphics to emulate the look of Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing” video, Yankovic performs a send-up of the song using the Beverly Hillbillies theme song for source material. As a boon to the performance, Dire Straits singer Mark Knopfler agreed to the parody only if he could play the lead guitar lick, giving legitimacy to a sitcom about backwoods hicks striking oil.


5. Actor David Bowe was actually hurt by a frying pan wallop to the face.

5. David Bowe

Orion Pictures

In the movie, George’s business partner and best friend Bob (played by David Bowe) takes a frying pan to the face during the first “Uncle Nutsy’s Clubhouse” scene. The stunt required the pan to stop short of his face, but unfortunately for Bowe, it made contact and split his lip. His reaction to the blow is real, and because he never broke character, this take was deemed good enough to be used in the film.


6. The odor from the “Wheel of Fish” scene was particularly unpleasant.

6. Wheel of Fish

Orion Pictures

Yes, those are actual fish secured to a spinning platform for the “Wheel of Fish” segment, and as you can imagine, the stench emanating from the rotting carcasses fell far short from lilac-scented Febreze. According to Yankovic’s UHF DVD commentary, the fish were bought from a local market in the early morning and stayed secured to the wheel as a worker made sure it spun correctly until shooting began in the afternoon. A mixture of hot studio lights, summer weather, and a set that wasn’t air-conditioned left a heavy odor in the air that Al described as “ripe.”


7. The film is dedicated to Trinidad Silva, who played animal “expert” Raul.

7. Trinidad Silva

Orion Pictures

As Raul, the animal “expert” that nobody can remember hiring, actor Trinidad Silva showed kids at home that turtles are nature’s suction cups and poodles can achieve flight if thrown in just the right way. Tragically, Silva was killed by a drunk driver midway through production. The movie is dedicated to his memory and his character’s backstory, as well as a scene where Raul got his comeuppance by a roving band of vengeful poodles, weren’t included in the final cut.


8. Yankovic didn’t want the movie to be called UHF.

8. UHF

Orion Pictures

Before UHF was released, Yankovic and Orion Pictures butted heads on what the movie should be called. Al wanted The Vidiot, but Orion insisted on UHF, which Yankovic thought would be confusing in light of cable television’s rise in popularity. Domestically, the movie was released with Orion’s title, but for the overseas market, a compromise was reached: The Vidiot from UHF. Yankovic has gone on record about how much he dislikes both versions of the title.


9. Offbeat character actor Crispin Glover was offered a role in the movie.

9. Crispin Glover

New Line Cinema

Named for the inventor of television, the role of studio engineer and mad scientist Philo was offered to that personification of eccentric, Crispin Glover. The actor declined the part and reportedly asked to play the role of used car salesman Crazy Eddie, who’s willing to “club a seal to make a better deal.” As Glover wasn’t deemed right for that particular role, Yankovic and director Jay Levey passed.


10. Yankovic inserted a subtle reference to a club he started in high school.

10. Volcano Worshippers

Orion Pictures

As a noted academic overachiever (he was elected valedictorian of his senior class), Yankovic nevertheless displayed a quirky sense of humor in high school. He and his buddies started a “Volcano Worshipers” club just to get an extra picture of themselves in the yearbook. The actor gave a nod to the club as an addition to the TV lineup with the “Volcano Worshipers Hour”.

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Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

Uncle-Buck

Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…