“Weird Al” Yankovic, ace of the accordion and king of mock, will thrill audiences in Puyallup next week as part of his “Mandatory World Tour.”
Last year, the artist released eight videos in eight days to promote his 14th album, “Mandatory Fun.” The videos lampooned chart-toppers by Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams, Lorde and Iggy Azalea, and mocked bad grammar, gauche behavior, conspiracy theorists and touted the skills of a local fictitious handyman.
The social media blitz helped propel “Mandatory Fun” to Yankovic’s first No. 1 Billboard appearance. Yankovic will appear Monday at the Washington State Fair.
Q: Surprisingly, or maybe not, a lot of people who work for government, they are big fans of your song “Foil,” a parody of Lorde’s song “Royals.” It starts out innocently enough as what looks like a commercial for aluminum foil, but quickly turns into a song about government conspiracy theories. How did you come up with the idea for that song?
A: When I first came across the idea of “Foil” … I immediately had the idea of doing a twist. The first half of the song you think is just “Oh, it’s another Weird Al song about food.” … And then halfway through the song it takes a very weird and dark turn and goes into the whole conspiracy theory thing.
Q: You’ve got a lot of stuff going on in that song. You’ve got the black helicopters, the Illuminati, the all-seeing eye, the lizard people thing. Is that all stuff that you knew about before or did you have to research it?
A: Anytime I do a song like that I research it and get more ideas and try to know my subject matter really well. I was really amused by the fact that after the song came out, there were some people that thought I wasn’t kidding. There’s a 20-minute video on YouTube somewhere where a guy’s going like “Al nailed it! He got it exactly right!” I don’t think he’s being ironic.
Q: What are some word crimes people make that you did not cover in your song on grammar?
A: Oh, there are a ton of them. My notebook is full of things. I only have three-and-a-half minutes to air my pet peeves on grammar, and there are so many other ones. Probably my biggest pet peeve is people don’t know the correct iteration of “there” or “your.” Whether it’s “THERE” or “THEIR” or “THEY’RE” or “YOUR” or “YOU’RE.” It’s not that hard to learn, but anytime I read a sentence or a post where they get it wrong, the hairs on the back of my neck go up.
Q: You talk pretty big on “Word Crimes.” How are you on prosecuting them?
Well, you know, you can’t police the Internet. I try not to let it bother me. I guess I don’t go about prosecuting them, so that song is my one overarching response to it all.
Q: What new things will fans see in your “Mandatory Fun” concert?
It’s still a highly produced multimedia show, but this show, being the Mandatory Tour, will include a lot of material from “Mandatory Fun.” … We still do as many of the greatest hits as we possibly can, as well as the new material and throw in a few deep cuts to surprise the hardcore fans.
Q: Rumor has it you turned down a lucrative beer endorsement at one point. Did that happen?
It did. That happened in the late ’80s. … My fan base is demographically pretty wide, but I do appeal to a lot of young kids, and I’m pretty sure the beer company was quite aware of that.
I just thought, you know, “As much as I like money, I can’t accept this.” It just doesn’t make sense for me to be promoting an alcohol product when I’ve got so many young fans. They just couldn’t believe I was turning them down. … The last offer I turned down was for $5 million. … I don’t regret turning down the money. If it was offered to me today, I’d still turn it down, but every once in a while I have the thought, “Gee, an extra $5 million sure would come in handy right about now.”
Q: I think people were touched by a story of a girl who was bullied by her peers for liking Star Wars. You then invited her backstage at one of your concerts in Virginia. What would you like to say to any of your fans who are being bullied or have been?
As the saying goes, it gets better. You have to never be ashamed of what you love or who you are. And that’s one of the reasons why I became “Weird Al,” or gave myself that moniker way back when, was I wanted to own my weirdness. People were making fun of me for being weird. I decided to take that on as a form of empowerment and just wave my freak flag high and say, “This is who I am.”
I’ve heard from a lot of people over the years that they’ve taken some inspiration in that. You can be yourself. You can be different and be proud of that. If I’ve made anybody feel better about themselves in that way that’s a huge thing for me.
‘WEIRD AL’ YANKOVIC’S MANDATORY TOUR
When: 7:30 p.m., Monday. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Washington State Fair Events Center in Puyallup.
Cost: VIP tickets are sold out. Some remain for $30-$40.
Buy tickets: thefair.com/fun/details/weird-al-yankovic.
Weird Al memorabilia
Kenneth Guinup of Tacoma is putting some of his extensive “Weird Al” collection on display at the Washington State Fair’s Hobby Hall. Guinup has collected items related to the artist for more than 30 years.
More than 100 items, including rare bootleg singles from Israel of his earlier work, will be on display. Other items include T-shirts, promotional items, and a scarf that “Weird Al” placed around Guinup’s wife’s neck during a concert in 1996.
The display is located in the Hobby Hall, one building south of the concert venue, at Booth 41.