Weird Al knows what his fans want

04/25/2012 5:00 AM

04/25/2012 5:04 PM

He’s been weird since he first started singing about bologna in the 1980s.

And now, Weird Al Yankovic, the comedic singer who rose to fame with his pop parodies such as “My Bologna,” “Eat It” and “Yoda,” is bringing his weird to a whole new generation.

Calling from his home in Los Angeles last week, Alfred Matthew “Weird Al” Yankovic — who performs Tuesday at Hartman Arena — talked about his tour, songs he doesn’t perform anymore, songs he knows he could never get away without performing and the joys of watching new sets of juveniles discover his often juvenile humor.

“It’s a family-friendly show,” he said. “I look out and see pretty much every generation. It’s become this family bonding thing. People who were into me in the ’80s are now reproducing and bringing their kids to the show.”

Weird Al, who now is 52, has enjoyed a three-decade-long career that’s far outlasted what many 1980s critics predicted for him.

It’s included gold and platinum albums, three Grammy awards and a string of silly hits that playfully mock musical artists du jour. (He’s had lots of stops at The Cotillion, most recently in 2010. This is the singer’s first concert at the relatively new Hartman Arena.)

It all started in 1979, when the curly-haired comedian recorded “My Bologna,” a spoof of The Knack’s hit “My Sharona,” a song that became famous when it was included on the nationally syndicated radio program, the “Dr. Demento Show.”

He got a real recording contract a few years later, and his goofy MTV videos for songs such as “Fat” and “Like a Surgeon” helped make him a star.

The hits kept coming through the 1990s (“Amish Paradise,” “Smells Like Nirvana”) and the 2000s. His 2006 album “Straight Outta Lynwood” included the hit “White and Nerdy,” a takeoff of “Ridin’ ” by Chamillionaire. The album debuted at No. 10 on the Billboard Charts.

The tour he’ll bring to Hartman Arena is a 12-date extension of last year’s “Alpocalypse Tour.” Yankovic describes it as a “high-energy rock show,” a whole multimedia experience that some people have told him resembles a Broadway production.

The “Alpocalypse” album, released last year, showcases the singer’s current obsession with Lady Gaga, the target of the hit “Perform This Way.”

At first, Weird Al said, the outrageous singer seemed too obvious of a spoofing choice. But his fans disagreed.

“Part of my job description is to give people what they want,” he said. “Everyone was banging on my door saying, ‘When are you doing a Lady Gaga parody?’”

The other thing people want: to hear Weird Al’s biggest hits, which he knows he must deliver. Concert attendees can count on seeing him perform “White and Nerdy,” “Yoda,” “Amish Paradise,” “Fat,” “Eat It” and more. (They won’t hear “Like a Surgeon,” a hit the singer has retired in recent years, though he suspects it may someday rejoin the rotation.)

Yankovic likes to keep his shows different and changing, he said, but he never gets tired of performing his biggest hits.

“If the audience is into it and responding positively, I don’t get tired of that,” he said. “I’ve played ‘Yoda’ easily over 1,000 times — at every show I’ve done since 1980, and I never get tired of playing it because the audience enjoys it.”

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