“Weird Al” Yankovic had just completed five months on the road playing his insane musical stylings in sold-out venues. When the tour ended, he noticed that he had nothing on his schedule. That’s pretty rare considering how much Yankovic writes and records music, authors children’s books and makes guest appearances on TV shows and in films.
The downtime didn’t last long. The next day, Yankovic got a call from the team behind the IFC series “Comedy Bang! Bang!” asking him if he would like to be the new bandleader.
“The only way to make ‘Comedy Bang! Bang!’ more weird was to actually put someone with the word ‘weird’ in their name into the show, and that’s exactly what we’ve done for Season 5,” says IFC president Jennifer Caserta.
Yankovic, 56, makes his debut when Season 5 begins with back-to-back episodes Friday, June 3, on IFC. The offbeat talk show is hosted by the program’s creator, Scott Aukerman.
“I had been on the show and was very familiar with it. Plus, I have known Scott for a number of years,” Yankovic says.
The job of “Bang! Bang!” bandleader has been about as stable as being the drummer for Spinal Tap. Reggie Watts made the leap to “The Late Late Show With James Corden.” Most recently, Scott Mescudi, left to concentrate on his music career.
A true sign of happiness to me is getting to do what you love for a living.
‘Weird Al’ Yankovic
Yankovic reveals there is even a joke in the new season about all the changes. He says he’s willing to stay “as long as they will have me.”
“Comedy Bang! Bang!” is not a typical talk show. There are guests but the show also features elaborate comedy sketches. Yankovic is involved in all of that, plus in creating original tunes for all the guests.
After a career of writing music parodies with food themes, writing a song for an actor such as Kevin Bacon was a breeze. Yankovic says his only challenge is that sometimes he doesn’t know until the day before who the guest will be.
The new season returns with 20 episodes – 10 that run through July 1, and the remaining 10 set to air on IFC this fall.
I went back and looked at some old episodes, and I was ready.
‘Weird Al’ Yankovic on preparation for joining ‘Comedy Bang! Bang!’
Some episodes feature more of Yankovic than others. That has worked for him because his calendar is beginning to fill up again, including a performance at the Hollywood Bowl, his first time as a headliner there.
After his last tour included a date at the Greek Theatre, Yankovic suggested that his next tour not include a performance in Los Angeles. “Then I was told I had been offered a chance to play the Hollywood Bowl. And, to play it for two nights. I had to do it.”
Between “Comedy Bang! Bang!” and preparing for a new tour, Yankovic says it’s hard to find time to write another children’s book. His first is titled, appropriately enough, “When I Grow Up” (HarperCollins, $17.99).
Yankovic says he wanted to write a children’s book because there are always a lot of kids in his audiences. The inspiration for the book came from his father, Nick, who told his son to do “whatever made him happy.” The idea of exploring life’s possibilities is carried out in the book by 8-year-old Billy.
4 Grammy Awards won by “Weird Al” Yankovic, including his most recent win in 2015 for “Mandatory Fun,” the first comedy album to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard charts.
“A true sign of happiness to me is getting to do what you love for a living. I want kids to know that there’s a world of possibilities out there for them,” Yankovic says.
He’s been doing what he loves for more than three decades, in the process winning three Grammys and selling more comedy albums than anyone. Yankovic – a frequent visitor to the central San Joaquin Valley – continues to be a top concert draw.
And now, he can add talk-show bandleader to his long list of accomplishments.
Comedy Bang! Bang!
- 11 and 11:30 p.m. Friday, June 3, IFC