"Weird Al" Yankovic wants everyone to smile when he takes the stage this year at the Orange County Fair. EspeciallyLady Gaga.
The parodist has tweaked just about every major recording artist over the last three decades. But unlike, say, Eminem, he doesn't invite hostility from the people he satirizes. So when he heard from Gaga's management that she disapproved of his song "Perform This Way," a spoof of her hit "Born This Way," he planned to spike it from his new album.
Then, according to Yankovic, Gaga's manager admitted that he had personally nixed the parody and Gaga herself gave it a green light. For Yankovic, who seeks permission from every artist, that meant "Alpocalypse" could come out as planned.
"I'm very non-confrontational," said Yankovic, who will kick off his summer tour with a pre-fair concert July 9. "I really don't enjoy when things go awry like that."
So when Yankovic hits the Pacific Amphitheatre, he'll be assured that Don McLean, Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus and any other potential targets don't object. And it's doubtful he'll offend many in the audience, considering that his recent songs tend to skewer everyday things like ringtones, e-mail forwards and Craigslist rather than hot-button political issues.
But if the past is any indication, the "Eat It" auteur should draw a packed house, fair Chief Executive Steve Beazley said.
Yankovic first performed at the fair in 1999 and has returned many times, even doing five-night engagements in 2004 and 2007. Two years ago, the fair debuted "Al's Brain," an educational exhibit on the human brain that Yankovic created.
While "Al's Brain" won't be back this year, the fair has another first-time offer: Anyone who buys a ticket to the July 9 show can use it as a fairgrounds pass for one day.
"Everything with Al feels like the first time, because we always try things with him," Beazley said.
Yankovic, a Southern California native, has stayed on the charts longer than many of the artists he's spoofed. He first gained a following by taking hits of the day and rewriting their lyrics — Madonna's "Like a Virgin" as "Like a Surgeon," the Knack's "My Sharona" as "My Bologna" — which he put over in his trademark nasal, almost over-enunciated voice.
In recent years, Yankovic said, the Internet has made parody songs and videos more common. The field, though, was different three decades ago.
"In the '70s, we went through a phase where music got very serious," Yankovic said. "I'm not saying the fun went out of rock 'n' roll, but I'd say the comedy did, to the point where, when I appeared in the '80s, I was pretty much in a vacuum."
Is there a serious album in Weird Al, too? Probably not any time soon.
"I think there are a lot of people in the world who do unfunny music," he said.
If You Go
Who: "Weird Al" Yankovic
Where: Pacific Amphitheatre, 100 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa
When: 8 p.m. July 9
Cost: $15 to $35