"I don't listen to the radio going, 'Hmmm, how can I screw this one up?'"
"I have had songs censored," Weird Al Yankovic reveals. "I had a song about Star Wars called The Saga Begins and there was a radio channel in the States called [Radio Disney]... It was basically for kids and there was a line in the song, um, 'Did you see him hitting on the Queen?' And I guess even saying "hitting on" was too risque for their audience [laughs] so I had to change it to, 'Did you see him talking to the Queen?'... But even as innocuous as most of my material is, ha ha, I've sometimes been asked to tone it down so, you know, you always have somebody being offended by something you do, no matter what."
The S-word even gets censored in the US, but Yankovic stresses, "I don't even use that. My humour is very family-friendly... I tend to stay away from profanity."
"I'm a big music fan in that I certainly listen to music mostly for my own personal enjoyment... and then it is part of my job to take what's big in pop music and put a twist to it."
It should come as no surprise that Yankovic was weaned on MAD, the magazine for which he became its first-ever guest editor for the April edition this year. "Certainly when I was growing up it always felt a little bit anarchistic and deviant to have a MAD magazine," he recalls. "I subscribed for a while and sometimes my parents would pick up the magazine before I got to it and they would be unhappy with the tone [laughs and puts on generic disgruntled parent voice], 'I don't know if you should be reading this stuff, Alfred.'"
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He's taken on artists such as Madonna (Like A Surgeon), Coolio ft LV (Amish Paradise) and, more recently, Lorde (Foil). Does Yankovic froth when a new artist arrives on the scene that seems tailor-made for a parody? "I don't listen to the radio going, 'Hmmm, how can I screw this one up?'" Yankovic promises. "I don't always have my antenna out looking for the next target. I'm a big music fan in that I certainly listen to music mostly for my own personal enjoyment... and then it is part of my job to take what's big in pop music and put a twist to it. So it is always nice when there's fresh meat, I guess; some new target for me to have my way with."
In an episode of The Simpsons, Homer Simpson says, "He who's tired of Weird Al Yankovic is tired of life." Of his many onscreen cameos, Yankovic admits, "The Simpsons is one of my favourites.
"I mean, the writer came up to me at some point after that episode aired and told me, 'Hey, I wrote that because I believe it,' you know? Very sweet guy."
Yankovic says he finds it "really kind of ironic" that he's had a career spanning almost four decades in his genre, "Because even though song parodies are considered dispensable, some of my songs have become classics. I mean, I've done some songs literally over a thousand times on stage and they're actual song favourites — there are people that have nostalgia about them." So will we clap eyes on the Fat suit during Yankovic's upcoming shows? "I do the Fat suit on stage and I have a latex appliance that substitutes for hours of effects work. So from ten feet back it actually looks pretty good. I mean, you can see the seams up close..."