Entertainment

Weird Al long-playing

During the early '80s, a couple of MTV program hosts had some fun trying to predict how long song parody master Weird Al Yankovic would last on the pop culture landscape.

As it turns out, it was longer than those on-air personalities lasted on the network formerly known as Music Television.

Yankovic, who first earned a name for himself with his hilarious take on The Knack's "My Sharona" in 1979, is still going strong more than 30 years later.

"Straight Outta Lynwood," released in 2006, was Yankovic's first album to debut in the Billboard Top 10. "White and Nerdy," his hilarious parody of the Chamillionaire hit "Ridin,' " also hit the Billboard Top 10.

Yankovic, 50, has entertained his audiences with numbers such as "Eat It" (Michael Jackson's "Beat It,") and "Like a Surgeon" (Madonna's "Like a Virgin").

The wiseguy is touring now to promote his best-of CD, "The Essential Weird Al Yankovic." Tracks such as "Canadian Idiot" (parodying Green Day's "American Idiot") and "You're Pitiful" (James Blunt's "You're Beautiful"), are among the highlights.

"I try my best," Yankovic said. "I work very hard at this. That's something that has never changed. My music may be funny but I take it seriously. ... I feel like more people are getting it now than ever."

Yankovic, who will perform Tuesday at the Cotillion, just may be right. Fans showing up at performances range from teenagers to seniors.

The laid-back character, who has won three Grammys and has four gold records and six platinum discs to his credit, doesn't just connect with fans. Most of the recording artists he has parodied also have raved about his work.

"Nirvana loved my parody ("Smells Like Nirvana")," Yankovic said. "They said that they knew they had made it once I did a parody (of "Smells Like Teen Spirit.") The cool thing is that most recording artists have been great about what I do. They know I'm joking."

Not everybody has been good with Yankovic's humor.

Fourteen years ago Yankovic asked hip-hop artist Coolio if he could turn "Gangsta Paradise" into "Amish Paradise." After receiving permission, Yankovic got word that Coolio was unhappy with the song.

A few months after the song was released, Yankovic and Coolio boarded a plane together in Los Angeles bound for Toronto.

"I was hiding in the back of first class behind a newspaper," Yankovic said. "It was pretty tense. After all these years, I ran into Coolio and it's all fine now. At least I was able to get permission to do the song. Some people never gave me permission. But I can't complain. I've been able to make a career out of something I love in music and I've been able to do it for a very long period of time. I'm an exception."

If you go>

weird al yankovic

What: Comedian and song parodist

Where: Cotillion, 11120 W. Kellogg

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday

How much: Tickets $35, available at Select-A-Seat outlets, by phone at 316-722-4201 or at www.thecotillion.com.

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