The undisputed king of musical comedy and parody songs is getting his own biopic and the casting choice is amazing. Former Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe is playing “Weird Al” Yankovic in the upcoming Roku Channel original movie WEIRD: The Weird Al Story, which itself is a feature-length adaptation of a fake trailer released by Funny Or Die in 2010.
The stellar news reminds of some of the notable “Weird Al” Yankovic movies and TV shows in which the musician was the star - like the 1989 TV industry parody UHF (which he also co-wrote), or the short-lived children’s program The Weird Al Show from the late ‘90s, or when he became the bandleader for Comedy Bang! Bang! However, what I would rather talk about right now are the funniest and most memorable times he made a surprise cameo in a movie or had a smaller guest or recurring spot on a TV show. For instance…
The Naked Gun Movies (1988-1994)
One of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s first movie appearances was in the brilliant detective spoof The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!, in which the late, great Leslie Nielsen’s Lt. Frank Drebin believes reporters waiting to see the musician really want his interview outside an airport. Yankovic also showed up in the 1991 sequel, The Naked Gun 2-1/2: The Smell of Fear, as a thug whose police station hold up is unwittingly stopped by Frank simply opening a door. “Weird Al” played himself again in The Naked Gun 3-1/3: The Final Insult, in which Frank and his wife, Jane (Priscilla Presley), pose as the comic and his date, Vanna White, to get into the Oscars.
Spy Hard (1996)
“Weird Al” Yankovic was also involved in Leslie Nielsen’s espionage thriller parody, Spy Hard - in which the comedy legend plays a bumbling secret named Dick Steele (seriously) - but with more than a seconds-long cameo this time. Al appears throughout the extremely cartoonish film’s James Bond-style opening credits sequence, which essentially serves as the music video for the self-referential theme song that he writes and performs.
Halloween II (2009)
Sadly, “Weird Al” Yankovic does not perform any music in director Rob Zombie’s sequel to his brutal, 2007 Halloween remake, but does provide what is easily the film’s funniest moment while appearing on a talk show with Malcolm McDowell’s Dr. Samuel Loomis. When host David Newman (Chris Hardwick) asks the psychologist - promoting his new book about Michael Myers (Tyler Mane) - about accusations of “profiteering off the misery of others,” the musician jokingly interjects, as if assuming the question was about his own song parodies. Loomis, however, does not find it very funny and later scolds his publicist over the embarrassment.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2019)
“Weird Al” Yankovic did, thankfully, play music on a TV series that already welcomed such performances regularly and won multiple Emmy Awards for it. On a Season 4 episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Greg (Skyler Astin) wants to go all out for his date with Rebecca (star and co-creator Rachel Bloom) and books a hot air balloon ride for the two of them from Bernie (Yankovic). After setting up the appointment, the top-hat wearing clerk gives the gentleman a “word of warning” about there being no way to use the restroom in a hot air balloon with a serenade that uses “Weird Al’s” signature instrument: the accordion.
How I Met Your Mother (2011)
In a Season 7 episode of How I Met Your Mother, Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) tries to find someone to accompany him to a “Weird Al” Yankovic concert. He also claims that he gave the parodist the idea for his 1985 hit “Like a Surgeon,” which borrows from the tune of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin.” The rest of the HIMYM cast assume this to be a fantasy, until a flashback at the end of the episode featuring “Weird Al” as himself circa 1985 confirms that it was Ted’s fan letter that led to the song’s existence.
The Simpsons (2003-2008)
There have been many amazing celebrity guests on The Simpsons and “Weird Al” Yankovic is one of a few who has leant his voice to Matt Groening’s seminal animated series as himself twice, so far. The first was a Season 14 episode in which a heartbreaking revelation forces Homer to leave his family, so Marge enlists Al’s help with a parody of John Mellencamp’s “Jack & Diane” called “Homer & Marge.” The second time, in Season 19, he performed a parody of a song by Homer’s own band, Sandgasm - which, itself, is a parody of Nirvana. Parodyception?
BoJack Horseman (2016-2019)
On some rare occasions, “Weird Al” Yankovic has also leant his voice to a few animated characters that are not just fictionalized versions of himself. One of the more notable examples is when he appeared on Season 3 of Netflix’s BoJack Horseman as Captain Peanutbutter - the brother of Paul F. Thompkins’ Mr. Peanutbutter - who would become a recurring character, appearing in two more episodes in Season 6. It was actually executive producer and series regular Aaron Paul who helped get Yankovic on the show, bringing his performance as the musician in the aforementioned Funny Or Die sketch full circle.
Teen Titans Go! (2015-2018)
One of the more unexpected instances of “Weird Al” Yankovic playing an animated character is the multiple times he leant his voice to Teen Titans Go! as Darkseid - yes, the same ruthless, tyrannical god who appeared in Zack Snyder’s Justice League as played by Ray Porter. Speaking of the Justice League, in an episode in which the young heroes pose as their adult peers to save them from the villain, Cyborg (Phil LaMarr) - in a Green Lantern costume - points out his vocal resemblance to the musical comedian. Darkseid quips that even he is not as evil as someone who makes a living “making songwriters look like fools,” which is actually what leads to their epic standoff.
Bill And Ted Face The Music (2020)
A more recent “Weird Al” Yankovic cameo that you might have already forgotten, or maybe even failed to catch in the first place, was in Bill and Ted Face the Music - the long-awaited third installment of the sci-fi comedy franchise starring Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter. The blink-and-you-miss-it appearance occurs during the film’s ending credits as part of a compilation of musicians jamming to the soundtrack. Yankovic posted the brief clip to his Instagram with a mention that this cameo was not a paid gig, but the result of a contest to appear in the film that he, a fan of the original movies, entered for fun.
We have barely scratched the surface of all the fittingly weird “Weird Al” Yankovic appearances to look out for the big and small screen, but these are our favorites. What are yours?
Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
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