'Weird Al' Yankovic talks 'Comedy Bang! Bang!,' moving past the accordion and more
Friday will be a busy night in the life of “Weird Al” Yankovic.
At 8 p.m., the iconic song parodist will take the stage at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, kicking off the second leg of his gargantuan Mandatory World Tour. Then around 11 p.m., he’ll make his debut as the new bandleader and co-host of IFC’s faux talk show Comedy Bang! Bang!, filling the shoes of Kid Cudi and, before him, Reggie Watts.
“After you see the show ,you’ll have to run home and watch it on TV,” Yankovic said in a recent phone interview.
Talking to Yankovic was a lot of fun, and he had some interesting things to say about his future, his eternal relevancy and the fact that he never got around to parodying David Bowie or Prince. Click here to read our interview.
But because we here at Soundcheck are huge fans of Comedy Bang! Bang! — both the show and the podcast that spawned it, both hosted by Emmy-winning writer-actor Scott Aukerman — we couldn’t resist diving into the Vicar of Yanks’ new gig. So here’s a B-B-B-BONUS-S-S-S-S outtake Q&A that’s all about Comedy Bang! Bang!. Enjoy.
I’m guessing you didn’t plan it this way, but what’s Friday night going to be like? Will you head to a watch party or start live-tweeting as soon as the show’s over?
I really hadn’t thought it through that far. I tend not to live-tweet things like that, because I’d rather people just actually watch the show and not be distracted by whatever nonsense I’ve got going on my Twitter feed. And I have seen the show already, so it’s not like I need to rush home and watch it, because I’ve seen it. But I’ll be looking forward to watching people’s comments when I get back to the bus that night.
How did Scott pitch you the gig? Are you really just meant to play bumper and walk-on music, or is it more along the lines of a traditional comedic sidekick?
It’s the same gig that Reggie and Kid Cudi both had: It’s both. I play all the music cues on the show, and they write me into a lot of sketches. “Co-host” is sort of a generous term, because Scott’s actually the host, but every now and then I’ll make some random, stupid comment. But it’s basically the same gig that Reggie and Cudi did. I try to emulate what they did, but at the same time, add my own particular twist to it.
What’s your setup like? Will you have an accordion?
Comedy Bang! Bang! is about subverting expectations, so there’s nary an accordion in sight. I basically have the same set up that Reggie had, plus a couple of other pieces of gear. I wanted to learn how to use a looper so I could do some of the vocal things that Reggie was famous for doing, and I came to the set a bit more prepared. Reggie is an improvisational genius, and I’m not known for my improv skills, so I figured I’d better have stuff prepared in advance. So I came to the set basically already knowing what I was going to play, which, I learned was not historically what they did.
People don’t really get to see you play other instruments in concert besides the accordion, right?
Not so much. I play other keyboard instruments, because the right hand of an accordion is basically a piano keyboard. That’s what I do on Comedy Bang! Bang — I play keyboards and also I do some singing. That’s something that I’m maybe not known for, but it’s something I can pull off.
Have you been writing full songs with people in the writers’s room?
They’re not full songs. They’re basically bumpers. I play in and out of commercial. Anytime a guest comes on the show, I play the walk-on music. I do something this season that hadn’t been done in previous seasons, which is, I write specific theme songs for all the guests that come on. That was kind of fun. So over the course of Season 5, I think I wrote about 100 music cues, and most of them are just straight music bits, and some of them are kind of funny, but it was a nice little exercise. I got to be more or less a straight bandleader, which was fun.
Scott’s a big musical theater guy. How does your style of comedy intersect with his? Have you guys figured out the points of commonality where your senses of humor overlap?
I think so. It’s hard for me to articulate what that would be. But I’ve always been a big fan of his show. I’ve always felt an affinity for that style of humor, and Scott obviously thought I was a good enough fit that he invited me to tag along.
Scott and I are a good team on the show. I’ve read some detractors online wonder how it’s going to be, because they felt that Reggie and Scott and Cudi and Scott were different enough that there was more of a dynamic between them. With me and Scott, they thought it was not as much chocolate and peanut butter, but chocolate and chocolate and peanut butter and peanut butter. But I still think there’s a really fun dynamic. And I think it’s a really strong season. I may be a little biased, but I’ve seen rough cuts of the first 10 episodes, and I think it’s really strong. I’m very excited to see how people are going to react to it.
-- Jay Cridlin