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

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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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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

E.coli-class-

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

ecoli-computer

IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

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

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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via GIPHY

We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

via GIPHY

The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

via GIPHY

They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

via GIPHY

Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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