The Independent goes inside the mind of “Weird Al” Yankovic 

You already know who the man is: Grammy-winning, accordion-pounding, Coolio-angry-making rock parodist with several gold and platinum albums to his credit. So without further ado, here’s what happened when we got to waste 15 minutes of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s precious time.

Is it Alan or Albert? It’s actually Alfred.

Well, Alfred, did you make any money on the Super Bowl this year, being an L.A. boy from way back when? Didn’t make a penny. I’m not a big football bettor.

What other hobbies occupy your time besides music? Do you collect anything? I collect lint. No, not much. I collect my own memorabilia, but I try not to collect much of anything just because it becomes kind of a sickness after a while.

Do you ever keep shoes and socks and things that have been thrown at you onstage? What’s the strangest thing that’s ever been thrown at you? Well, back in the old days, people threw things onstage with the intention of hitting me in the head. Nowadays it’s usually a gift of love.

You mean flowers and whatnot? Yeah, shirts or flowers. Or notes.

Speaking of collecting things, I have this light weight rock ’n’ roll hall of fame that consists solely of relics weighing three ounces or less. For example, I have an uneaten green onion garnish that was left by Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament. How do you think you would be best represented in three ounces or less in my hall of fame? Man, that’s the first time I’ve ever been asked that question. Maybe one of my wisdom teeth. I had two wisdom teeth and I had them both removed and I donated one to Alcon, which is like an Al convention they have in Illinois biennially. They auctioned off my wisdom tooth and somebody paid five hundred bucks for it. So I’m never throwing anything away ever again.

Wow, do you still have your appendix? You could probably buy another house. [polite laughter]

What is your guiltiest musical pleasure? I don’t think there’s anything to be guilty about as far as musical tastes. There’s nothing in my musical collection that I’m ashamed to have. I mean, I’m proud to own the Fabio album.

Would you rather be able to sneeze the sound of a bowling strike or belch the sound of a gong? It would kind of depend on how loud they were.

Sort of, you know, cocktail level. That’s tough. I like the sound of a bowling strike. It’s a satisfying sound. You know, I was going to go with the gong, but I’m changing my mind. I’m going to go with the bowling strike.

Good for you, although I doubt you’ll ever be called upon to make good on that decision. Now then, if we discard for a moment that time travel to the past would have a disastrously disruptive effect on the present, do you have a classic time machine fantasy of something you could go back and do or see or someone you could meet? Assuming it wouldn’t cause any rift in the space-time continuum? I’d like to go back about three weeks and pay my credit card bill on time and not get charged that interest. From just this century, it would have been nice to meet Spike Jones and some of the people who are my heroes. Alan Sherman, maybe. He died when I was 13. There’s tons of famous people throughout history who would be great to meet, but those are the ones who would be the most personal to me.

What’s the highest compliment that could be paid to you as an artist? “My, you have nice shoes.”

Can you still hop up and down with your foot behind your head? I still do that in the live show, but I generally don’t play the accordion while I’m doing it because that’s potentially a dangerous scenario there. But yes, it is possible.

Do you still have those quilted pants that you wore when you played “Another One Rides the Bus” on the Tom Snyder show? Yes. Those are still in my closet at home and I may auction them off one of these years. Maybe that’ll be an eBay item someday if I ever lose all my money.

How much do you think you could get for hocking one of your gold or platinum albums at a pawn shop? I have no idea. I’m pretty conservative with my money, so I doubt I’ll ever get to the point where I need to, like, hock one of my Grammies to buy dinner. I don’t know how much they’re going for. On the bus we were watching QVC or some home shopping channel and they were actually selling personalized gold albums where you can have your name on your favorite gold album. Everybody in the band was kind of irate about it, like, “That’s not fair! Nobody deserves that! We had to work for those!”

Al, do you ever accept suggestions for parodies? Because my friend Ferd has got a great version of “Riders on the Storm,” except it’s “Renters of the Porn.” I’m sure he’d sell it to you. Um, heh heh. That sounds pretty funny, but I do try to discourage people from giving me fun suggestions.

What do you think is the greatest problem facing America today? That the Earth is going to crash into the sun.

In what, like 30 billion years? Yeah.

Do you think human nature is fundamentally predisposed towards good or evil? No. I think there is good and evil in all of us.

Are you familiar with the formula for picking a porn star name, which consists of your first pet’s name plus your mother’s maiden name? My porn star name would be China Vivalda. So now you can access my bank account, right?

Pretty much. So, Al, with all the highs and lows, can you name a single thing that’s made it all worthwhile? I mean, aside from just getting onstage and playing for a bazillion adoring fans every night? You know, it’s hard to pick, but I would have to say: this interview. This interview has pulled it all together for me.

Aww, that’s really sweet of you to say, Al.

“Weird Al” Yankovic plays Saturday, Feb. 19 at the University Theatre at 7 p.m. Tickets $25. Call 1-888-MONTANA.

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