Entertainment

Weird Al's still weird after all these years

"Weird Al" Yankovic did it again earlier this year with a ridiculously accurate send-up of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" called "Perform This Way."

It's been like this for 30 years, since his first parody - "Another One Rides the Bus" - landed on the Billboard charts: Every time you think the comedic songwriter has written his last witty hit, he resurfaces with fresh fun-poking.

"I never run out of source material. Pop culture never goes away," says Yankovic, 51, who brings his Alpocalypse Tour to Ovens Auditorium Saturday.

"It's difficult to come up with very clever ideas without repeating oneself, and do it consistently. Anybody can do a parody. It's difficult to do it in a creative and artistic and funny fashion, and do it where a song has repeated listenability. And to be able to write songs for 30 years - it amazes me myself."

What may be more amazing is Yankovic's live two-hour multimedia show, part of which aired on Comedy Central last weekend during an hourlong concert special. It incorporated bits of his famous videos through props, video and numerous costume changes.

"There's no way to re-create the entire music video live onstage, but there are costume changes for virtually every song. It's the live stage version of the video. I'm in the 'Fat' outfit. I'm in the 'Amish Paradise' costume with an Amish choir. I'm Kurt Cobain," he says.

Part of Yankovic's charm is striking while the iron's still hot. Digital media gave him an edge. He began writing the "Alpocalypse" album - which was just released in June - by parodying T.I.'s "Whatever You Like" back in fall 2008. The song focuses on the original's materialistic subject matter in the context of an increasingly dire economic environment.

"What I do is dependent in large part on being topical and timely," Yankovic says. "I was excited about the potential of digital distribution; iTunes is the 800-pound gorilla. It's hard to be timely and topical when you have to wait for the gears of the machine to turn. I figure, we're not going with the old model to wait until you have the whole album.

"I wanted to see, 'How quickly can I turn this around?' It turns out (the time) from getting the concept for the parody, to getting the permission to produce it, to recording and releasing it, took less than two weeks. T.I.'s song was still number one."

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