City Lights: Al, like other celebrities, isn't that weird

As I've noted before, I don't get awed by meeting celebrities. Over the years, I've encountered Rainn Wilson, Giada de Laurentiis, Gillian Welch, Kelly Slater and a slew of others, and the feeling is always the same: a second or two of giddiness, followed by the quick realization that they're just hardworking folks like everyone else.

That said, I will confess to a little burning anticipation when I prepared to interview "Weird Al" Yankovic on Friday morning. It's not because I view him as some kind of icon, although any songwriter who could pen "The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota" clearly ranks among the great poets of our time.

Rather, it was because I had to find out where he got that footage of Paul McCartney.

In addition to his famous novelty songs, Yankovic has a series of short films called "Al TV," in which he takes interview footage of pop stars, cuts the footage into snippets and edits himself in to create imaginary conversations. His "interviews" with Keith Richards, Madonna, George Harrison and Kevin Federline, to name a few, are gut-busters.

But the crown jewel among them, by far, is McCartney.

If you haven't seen it yet, go to your record collection and put on the most eloquent, tasteful McCartney ballads you can think of — "Let It Be," "Yesterday" and the like. Then go to YouTube, punch in "Weird Al McCartney" and enjoy nearly six minutes of the Cute One making silly faces, talking in dialects, impersonating guitar sounds, gasping, covering his eyes and generally behaving as if he's just taken half a dozen narcotics.

Every time I've shown anyone the video, they've always had the same question: Where did Yankovic find that astonishing material? And so, with the bard himself coming to the Pacific Amphitheatre for a "pre-summer O.C. Fair Show" on July 9, I had my chance to find out.

For most of our phone interview, we talked about the typical subjects: his plans for the summer tour, his songwriting process, his views on the record industry. You'll read about all that in an upcoming story.

But before we hung up, I asked him about the origin of the McCartney footage. Did he remember much about it? It turned out that he did, even 15 years after the fact.

The original interview, he said, came from the Canadian TV station MuchMusic, and it was conducted with a female interviewer (the one that Yankovic, of course, edited out and replaced with himself). He noted that McCartney seemed to be enjoying himself during the show, to say the least.

"That was a really bizarre interview," Yankovic said. "Paul was feeling really loopy or silly that day."

Later that morning, I found the website for MuchMusic and sent an e-mail asking for a copy of the raw footage. I haven't heard back yet, but my pursuit will go on.

Sir Paul, be very afraid.

City Editor MICHAEL MILLER can be reached at (714) 966-4617 or at

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