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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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Thank Azaria

Best. Characters. Ever.

Our favorite Hank Azaria characters.

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GIFs via Giphy

Hank Azaria may well be the most prolific voice and character actor of our time. The work he’s done for The Simpsons alone has earned him a permanent place in the pop culture zeitgeist. And now he’s bringing another character to the mainstream: a washed-up sports announcer named Jim Brockmire, in the aptly titled new series Brockmire.

We’re looking forward to it. So much so that we want to look backward, too, with a short-but-sweet retrospective of some of Azaria’s important characters. Shall we begin?

Half The Recurring Simpsons Characters

He’s Comic Book Guy. He’s Chief Wiggum. He’s Apu. He’s Cletus. He’s Snake. He’s Superintendent Chalmers. He’s the Sea Captain. He’s Kurt “Can I Borrow A Feeling” Van Houten. He’s Professor Frink. He’s Carl. And he’s many more. But most importantly he’s Moe Szyslak, the staple character Azaria has voiced since his very first audition for The Simpsons.

Oh, and He’s Frank Grimes

For all the regular Simpsons characters Azaria has played over the years, his most brilliant performance may have been a one-off: Frank Grimes, the scrappy bootstrapper who worked tirelessly all his life for honest, incremental, and easily-undermined success. Azaria’s portrayal of this character was nuanced, emotional, and simply magical.

Patches O’Houlihan

Dodgeball is a “sport of violence, exclusion and degradation.” as Hank Azaria generously points out in his brief but crucial cameo in Dodgeball. That’s sage wisdom. Try applying his “five D’s” to your life on and off the court and enjoy the results.

Harold Zoid

Of Futurama fame. The crazy uncle of Dr. Zoidberg, Harold Zoid was once a lion (or lobster) of the silver screen until Smell-o-vision forced him into retirement.

Agador

The Birdcage was significant for many reasons, and the comic genius of Hank Azaria’s character “Agador” sits somewhere towards the top of that list. If you haven’t seen this movie, shame on you.

Gargamel

Nobody else could make a live-action Gargamel possible.

Ed Cochran

From Ray Donovan. Great character, great last name [editorial note: the author of this article may be bias].

Kahmunra, The Thinker, Abe Lincoln

All in the Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian, a file that let Azaria flex his voice acting and live-action muscles in one fell swoop.

The Blue Raja

Mystery Men has everything, including a fatal case of Smash Mouth. Azaria’s iconic superhero makes the shortlist of redeemable qualities, though.

Dr. Huff

Huff put Azaria in a leading role, and it was good. So good that there is no good gif of it. Internet? More like Inter-not.

Learn more about Hank Azaria’s newest claim to fame right here, and don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Flame Out

Brockmire and Other Public Implosions

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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There’s less than a month until the Brockmire premiere, and to say we’re excited would be an insulting understatement. It’s not just that it stars Hank Azaria, who can do no wrong (and yes, that’s including Mystery Men, which is only cringeworthy because of Smash Mouth). It’s that the whole backstory of the titular character, Jim Brockmire, is the stuff of legends. A one-time iconic sportscaster who won the hearts of fans and players alike, he fell from grace after an unfortunate personal event triggered a seriously public meltdown. See for yourself in the NSFW Funny or Die digital short that spawned the IFC series:

See? NSFW and spectacularly catastrophic in a way that could almost be real. Which got us thinking: What are some real-life sports fails that have nothing to do with botched athletics and everything to do with going tragically off script? The internet is a dark and dirty place, friends, but these three examples are pretty special and mostly safe for work…

Disgruntled Sports Reporter

His co-anchor went offsides and he called it like he saw it.

Jim Rome vs Jim “Not Chris” Everett

You just don’t heckle a professional athlete when you’re within striking distance. Common sense.

Carl Lewis’s National Anthem

He killed it! As in murdered. It’s dead.

To see more moments just like these, we recommend spending a day in your pajamas combing through the muckiness of the internet. But to see something that’s Brockmire-level funny without having to clear your browser history, check out the sneak peeks and extras here.

Don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Mirror, Mirror

Portlandia Season 7 In Hindsight

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available Online and on the IFC App.

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Another season of Portlandia is behind us, and oh what a season it was. We laughed. We cried. And we chuckled uncomfortably while glancing nervously around the room. Like every season before it, the latest Portlandia has held a mirror up to ridiculousness of modern American life, but more than ever that same mirror has reflected our social reality in ways that are at once hysterical and sneakily thought-provoking. Here are just a few of the issues they tackled:

Nationalism

So long, America, Portland is out! And yes, the idea of Portland seceding is still less ludicrous than building a wall.

Men’s Rights

We all saw this coming. Exit gracefully, dudes.

Protests

Whatever you stand for, stand for it together. Or with at least one other person.

Free Love

No matter who we are or how we love, deep down we all have the ability to get stalky.

Social Status

Modern self-esteem basically hinges on likes, so this isn’t really a stretch at all.

These moments are just the tip of the iceberg, and much more can be found in the full seventh season of #Portlandia, available right now #online and on the #IFC app.

via GIPHY

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