Two Legends: Weird Al Yankovic “Interviews” James Brown (1986)

Last week, America’s reigning bard of silly parody songs, “Weird Al” Yankovic scored his first number one album, Mandatory Fun. His vastly improved take on Robin Thicke’s catchy, if deeply creepy, earworm Blurred Lines alone might just be worth the price of the album. This weekend saw the release of the James Brown biopic Get On Up, starring Chadwick Boseman, Octavia Spencer and Dan Aykroyd. So we thought you all might be interested in watching Weird Al’s interview of the Godfather of Soul in 1986. You can watch it above.

Ok, so that interview didn’t actually happen. It was cobbled together to make it look like Weird Al was peppering the music legend with bizarre and inane questions. Example: “What was it like the very first time you sat in a bucket full of warm oatmeal?” or “What can you do with a duck that you can’t do with an elephant?”

Back in the ‘80s and early ‘90s when MTV played videos and not endless reality TV shows about the drunk and the vapid, Weird Al regularly hosted Al-TV, a parody of the music channel. Boasting the tagline “putting the ‘vid’ in video and the ‘odd’ in audio,” Al-TV featured skits, fake news reports and, of course, Weird Al’s trademark music video spoofs. It also featured dada-esque “interviews,” like the one with Brown. Below we have some more to check out, like this one where Weird Al ridicules that most dull and pompous of pop stars, Sting.

Weird Al’s interview with pop genius Prince is really odd, and not just because of Weird Al’s dopey questions — “What do you do when someone on the street gives you a piece of cheese?” Perhaps it’s that knowing smirk on Prince’s face.  Or maybe it’s because the interview happens while surrounded by his well-coiffed entourage.

And finally, Weird Al doesn’t have to do much with Avril Lavigne. One suspects that the original interview would be pretty funny even without the jokes. At one point, Yankovic asks, “Can you ramble incoherently for a while about something that nobody cares about?”

Related Content: 

“Weird Al” Yankovic Releases “Word Crimes,” a Grammar Nerd Parody of “Blurred Lines”

Every Appearance James Brown Ever Made On Soul Train. So Nice, So Nice!

James Brown Blows Away the Rolling Stones in 18 Electric Minutes (1964)

James Brown Gives You Dancing Lessons: From The Funky Chicken to The Boogaloo

Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring one new picture of a vice president with an octopus on his head daily. 



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