“Weird Al” has been making the interview rounds in anticipation of his new gig as the bandleader and cohost of Comedy Bang! Bang!, as well as his “Mandatory World Tour,” which launches this June. His latest stop was with shock jock extraordinaire Howard Stern, who got Al to open up about his unlikely career. Here are just a few highlights, which you can listen to below.
5. He Recorded “My Bologna” in a Bathroom.
Al was just a college kid with a dream when he laid down the tracks for “My Bologna,” his parody of The Knack’s “My Sharona.” Lacking a proper recording studio, he sought out a room with the best acoustics, which just so happened to be the bathroom across from the college’s radio station where he worked. He recorded it between flushes, got it on the radio and Capital Records ended up releasing the bathroom recording as a single which launched his career.
4. Kurt Cobain Asked If Al’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” Parody Would Be About Food.
“Weird Al” always asks the musicians he plans to parody for permission, but Kurt Cobain proved a hard one to track down. Thankfully, Al had worked with then SNL cast member Victoria Jackson in his cult film UHF, and used Nirvana’s musical guest gig on the late night show as a chance to reach out. When he got Kurt on the phone, the moody musician couldn’t have been nicer. He just wanted to know if the parody would be about food. When Al explained he wanted to make fun of how no one could understand the lyrics to “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Cobain loved it. In fact, he later said he thought the song was genius, and it was the first time he knew he’d made it.
3. Lady Gaga’s Manager Ran Al Through the Ringer.
Al also tried to get permission from Lady Gaga to parody her hit “Born This Way,” but could only get as far as her manager. While Al usually just explains the premise of the song, this guy wanted to see all the lyrics. When Al complied, he said he needed to hear the song. Al then went and recorded his take, “Perform This Way,” only to get a rejection from the manager, thereby wasting everyone’s time. While he normally wouldn’t go against anyone’s wishes, because he was run through he ringer, Al decided to release the song online, with a caveat that he never got permission. It proved to be an instant hit, and when Lady Gaga heard it, she loved it. In fact, no one had ever told her that he’d reached out.
2. It takes time for him to get into the “Fat” suit.
Al is embarking on his 2016 Mandatory Fun Tour, a multimedia extravanganza that features “three more costume changes than Lady Gaga.” Al says it takes him “a minute or two” to get into the iconic oufit from the “Fat” music video, which he changes into while funny videos show on a screen.
1. Prince Sent Al a Telegram Requesting No Eye Contact.
Years ago, Al was supposed to be seated near Prince at the American Music Awards. Shortly before the ceremony he received a telegram of all things letting him know that he was not to look the Purple One directly in the eyes, under any circumstance. He’s since spoken to other musicians, like the boys in Night Ranger, who received the same telegram, so at least it was nothing personal.