Emmys 2014: Weird Al Yankovic sticks to his theme, and gets reactions

Weird Al Yankovic, with a blond-wigged Andy Samberg, spoof theme songs at the Emmys, a segment that some loved, some hated.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Last year, we had the weird Emmys; this year, we had Weird Al Yankovic.

The curly-haired pop-music parodist took the stage Monday at the Nokia Theatre to perform a medley of theme songs from Emmy-nominated shows including “Mad Men,” “Game of Thrones” and “Scandal.” He was joined by a troupe of dancers and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” star Andy Samberg, decked out in a robe, crown and blond wig like King Joffrey, the loathsome “Game of Thrones” villain.

Since none of the selected theme songs has lyrics, Weird Al made up his own, bemoaning the fact that “Mad Men” star Jon Hamm never won an Emmy, noting how often Kerry Washington’s lips quiver on “Scandal” and ridiculing Claire Danes’ “ugly crying” on “Homeland.”

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But he devoted the most time to “Game of Thrones,” remarking on the show’s high death count and ending with a plea to author George R.R. Martin to write faster, lest the series catch up with his books: “Type, George, type as fast as you can. We need more scripts,” he sang as Samberg offered Martin a typewriter.

In a night that was otherwise comedically challenged and plagued by predictability (“Modern Family” again?), for better or worse Weird Al provided a rare memorable moment. Reactions to his performance, much like his comedy, were decidedly polarized.

“One of those times I wish I could fast-forward live TV,” tweeted CNN media reporter and Weird Al detractor Brian Stelter. Others, like the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, found much to celebrate: “The Weird Al resurgence makes me love America so much.”

The reception might have been mixed, but the performance made at least one thing clear: Yankovic is having quite a year. The singer, who has been delighting adolescents for three decades with such pop music spoofs as “Eat It” and “Amish Paradise,” has experienced an unexpected late-career surge that almost makes the much-heralded McConaissance pale in comparison.

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In July, the 54-year-old promoted his upcoming 14th album, “Mandatory Fun,” by releasing eight music videos in eight days, lampooning current hits by Lorde, Iggy Azalea and Pharrell Williams. The videos went viral, quickly amassing millions of views and turning Weird Al — a guy who’s been up to the same shtick since Madonna was a provocative newcomer — into the talk of the Internet. Best of all, “Mandatory Fun” hit the Billboard charts at No. 1, a first for the singer.


Up next: an Emmy?

Twitter: @MeredithBlake