Over the past 40 years, “Weird Al” Yankovic has poked fun at everyone from Miley Cyrus and Iggy Azalea to Green Day and Michael Jackson. None of them has minded.
“They enjoy it,” Yankovic said in a telephone interview from his Los Angeles home. “They’re amazed at how well they I’m able to emulate their sound.”
Yankovic (who, contrary to the enduring urban myth, is unrelated to polka king Frankie Yankovic), will be in St. Petersburg on Friday. He’ll bring his band and his “Manadatory Fun” national tour to the Mahaffey Theater.
The show, he said, is a lot more than just a guy singing “My Bologna” to the tune of “My Sharona” and turning “Beat It” into “Eat It.”
Never miss a local story.
“We try to make it an event,” he said. “We try to put as much production into it as we can. We have costume changes — we change costumes after almost every song — and there’s an LED video screen behind us.”
On recordings, Yankovic’s parodies don’t just play on the original songs’ lyrics. They capture and parody the production and musicianship of the source recordings as well.
Accomplishing that in the the studio is one kind of challenge. Doing it onstage is another. Yankovic long ago assembled a band that’s versatile enough to credibly perform everything from polka to punk.
We try to make it an event. We try to put as much production into it as we can. We have costume changes — there are costume changes after almost every song — and there’s an LED video screen behind us.
“Weird Al” Yankovic
“I’ve had the exact same band since the beginning,” he said. “The drummer’s been with me since 1980, and the guitarist and bass player have been with me since 1982. The keyboard player didn’t join us until 1991. He’s the new guy. We’re still breaking him in.”
The main reason artists never complain about being the targets of “Weird Al” lampoons is that Yankovic always makes sure they’re OK with it from the start.
“I do get their permission and their blessing before I do the parody,” he said.
Almost all of the artists he’s approached have been amenable, even enthusiastic. One notable exception was Prince.
“He’s the one guy who adamantly said no every time,” Yankovic said. “And I respected that. One reason I’ve been able to last so long in this business is that I’ve always respected artists’ wishes.”
“Weird Al” hasn’t just endured, he’s become more popular as the years have gone on. His latest album, “Mandatory Fun,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 200 chart. It’s his first No. 1 album, and in fact the first comedy album to top the pop charts since Allan Sherman’s “My Son, the Nut” in 1963.
Yankovic counts Sherman among his comedic forbears.
“My comedy Mount Rushmore is Allan Sherman, Tom Lehrer, Spike Jones and Stan Freberg.” he said. “Allan Shermen is definitely one of my heroes.”
Sherman was a pioneer in the song parody genre, whose best-known song was “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah.” Yankovic said he doesn’t see too any promising young musical parodists ready to carry on the tradition. Still, he said, the future of comedy music has never been brighter.
“There are people like Flight of the Conchords and Tenacious D,” he said. “There are more people making funny than ever before.”
Details: 8 p.m. June 3, Mahaffey Theater, 401 First St. S., St. Petersburg. $37.50, $47.50, $57.50, $67.50. 727-892-5767, themahaffey.com.