"Weird Al" Yankovic Net Worth & Biography

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Introduction

NET WORTH

$25M

"Weird Al" Yankovic is an American musician, record producer, actor, and author who is known for humorous songs that make light of pop culture and often parody specific songs by contemporary musical acts. He also performs original songs that are style pastiches of the work of other acts, as well as polka medleys of several popular songs, most of which feature his trademark accordion.

Since having a comedy song aired in 1976, Yankovic has sold more than 12 million albums (as of 2007), recorded more than 150 parody and original songs, and performed more than 1,000 live shows. His work has earned him five Grammy Awards and a further 11 nominations, four gold records, and six platinum records in the U.S.

His first top ten Billboard album (Straight Outta Lynwood) and single ("White & Nerdy") were both released in 2006, nearly three decades into his career. His latest album, Mandatory Fun (2014), became his first No. 1 album during its debut week. As of , "Weird Al" Yankovic has an estimated net worth of about $25M.

At a Glance

Full name: Alfred Matthew Yankovic

Other names: "Weird Al" Yankovic

Birthday: October 23, 1959

Age:

Net worth: $25M

Occupation: Singer, Songwriter, Musician, Record Producer, Satirist, Actor, Music Video Director, Author.

Nationality: United States of America

Net Worth

With "Word Crimes" from Mandatory Fun debuting at No. 39 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2014, Yankovic became the third musical artist after Michael Jackson and Madonna to have a song in the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 over each decade since the 1980s, his other Top 40 songs being "Eat It", "Smells Like Nirvana", and "White & Nerdy".

Since then, only U2 and Kenny G have also entered this elite group. Billboard named Yankovic #15 of the top 100 music video artists of all time in an August 2020 compilation, addressing that alongside his musical fame, "his accompanying video parodies are a vital part of the recipe".

With his four-decade career, Yankovic's work has also influenced newer artists. Andy Samberg of the group The Lonely Island considered Yankovic an influence during his childhood. Lin-Manuel Miranda directly credits Yankovic as an influence on his musical Hamilton. Television producer Michael Schur considered that Yankovic's music represented a "deep egalitarian spirit of our culture" that allowed his comedy writers to reflect on society within his shows.

In 2020, Mark Riedl, a researcher at Georgia Tech, created an algorithm that generates lyrics to match the rhyme and syllable schemes of preexisting songs. The algorithm was called "Weird A.I. Yankovic" in reference to Yankovic's similar song parodies. As of , "Weird Al" Yankovic has an estimated net worth of about $25M.

Early Life

Alfred Matthew Yankovic was born in Downey, California, on October 23, 1959, the only child of Mary Elizabeth (née Vivalda) and Nick Yankovic. He was raised in Lynwood, California. His father, who was born in the Strawberry Hill neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas, was of Slovene descent (the original surname spelling being Janković) and began living in California after earning two Purple Hearts for his service as a medic during World War II.

He believed "the key to success" was "doing for a living whatever makes you happy" and often reminded his son of this philosophy. Yankovic's mother, who was a stenographer of English and Italian descent, married his father in 1949. She had come to California from Kentucky and gave birth to Yankovic 10 years later.

Yankovic's first accordion lesson, which sparked his interest in music, took place on the day before his seventh birthday. A door-to-door salesman traveling through Lynwood offered his parents a choice of accordion or guitar lessons at a local music school.

Yankovic claims that his parents chose the accordion over the guitar because "they figured there should be at least one more accordion-playing Yankovic in the world", referring to Frankie Yankovic, to whom he is not related. Additionally, he said that they chose the accordion because "they were convinced it would revolutionize rock". As his mother was over-protective of him, he did not spend much time outside the house, giving him plenty of time to practice the instrument at home.

He continued lessons at the school for three years before deciding to learn on his own. In the 1970s, Yankovic was a big fan of Elton John and claims John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album was partly how he "learned to play rock 'n roll on the accordion".

As for his influences in comedy and parody music, he listed artists including Tom Lehrer, Stan Freberg, Spike Jones, Allan Sherman, Shel Silverstein, and Frank Zappa, as well as "all the other wonderfully sick and twisted artists" he found through The Dr. Demento Radio Show.

Other sources of inspiration for his comedy came from Mad magazine, Monty Python, and the Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker movies. He had also enjoyed George Carlin's FM & AM comedy album so much that he had transcribed it by typewriter himself.

Yankovic began kindergarten a year earlier than most children and skipped second grade, later saying, "My classmates seemed to think I was some kind of rocket scientist so I was labeled a nerd early on." He attended Lynwood High School, where his unusual schooling experience meant he was two years younger than most of his classmates.

He was not interested in sports or social events at school but was active in its extracurricular programs, including the National Forensic League-sanctioned public speaking events, a play based upon Rebel Without a Cause, the yearbook (for which he wrote most of the captions), and the Volcano Worshippers club; the latter, according to Yankovic, did "absolutely nothing" and was started "just to get an extra picture of [themselves] in the yearbook".

He graduated in 1975, and was valedictorian of his senior class. He attended California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, where he earned a bachelor's degree in architecture.

Favorite Quotes from Weird Al Yankovic

“Like, I have had moments, which I think most people have, where you’ll be watching TV, and it’ll be interrupted by some tragic event, and you’ll actually find yourself thinking, ‘I don’t want to hear about this train being derailed! What happened to ‘The Flintstones’?'” – Weird Al Yankovic
“You slammed my face down on the barbecue grill, now my scars are all healing, but my heart never will.” – Weird Al Yankovic
“I love the way they run in fright when I turn on the kitchen light. And when I squish them on the ground, they make a pleasant crunchy sound.” – Weird Al Yankovic
“As much as people are griping about the Internet taking sales away from artists, it’s been a huge promotional tool for me.” – Weird Al Yankovic
“I make charts of songs that are good candidates, good targets, so to speak. Then I try to come up with ideas for parodies. And 99% of those ideas are horrible.” – Weird Al Yankovic
“I write and write and write, and then I edit it down to the parts that I think are amusing, or that help the storyline, or I’ll write a notebook full of ideas of anecdotes or story points, and then I’ll try and arrange them in a way that they would tell a semi-cohesive story.” – Weird Al Yankovic

Career

1976–1981: Dr. Demento and early fame: Yankovic received his first exposure via syndicated comedy radio personality Dr. Demento's Southern California-based radio show, saying "If there hadn't been a Dr. Demento, I'd probably have a real job now."

Despite his mother having caught Yankovic listening to Dr. Demento's program and banning him from listening it again in the future, he found ways to listen to it discreetly. In 1976, Dr. Demento spoke at Yankovic's school where the then-16-year-old Yankovic gave him a homemade tape of original and parody songs performed on the accordion in Yankovic's bedroom into a "cheesy little tape recorder".

The tape's first song, "Belvedere Cruisin'" – about his family's Plymouth Belvedere – was played on Demento's comedy radio show, launching Yankovic's career. Demento said, "'Belvedere Cruising' might not have been the very best song I ever heard, but it had some clever lines [...] I put the tape on the air immediately." Yankovic also played at local coffeehouses, accompanied by fellow dorm resident Joel Miller on bongos. Yankovic said:

It was sort of like amateur music night, and a lot of people were like wannabe Dan Fogelbergs. They'd get up on stage with their acoustic guitar and do these lovely ballads. And I would get up with my accordion and play the theme from 2001. And people were kind of shocked that I would be disrupting their mellow Thursday night folk fest.

During Yankovic's sophomore year as an architecture student at Cal Poly, he became a disc jockey at KCPR, the university's radio station. Yankovic had been called "Weird Al" originally as a more derogatory nickname from others within the dormitory he shared, as he was seen as the strange outcast compared to other residents.

Though he initially took it as an insult, Yankovic eventually "took it on professionally" as his persona for the station. In 1978, he released his first recording (as Alfred Yankovic), "Take Me Down", on the LP, Slo Grown, as a benefit for the Economic Opportunity Commission of San Luis Obispo County. The song mocked famous nearby landmarks such as Bubblegum Alley and the fountain toilets at the Madonna Inn.

In mid-1979, shortly before his senior year, "My Sharona" by The Knack was on the charts and Yankovic took his accordion into the restroom across the hall from the radio station to take advantage of the echo chamber acoustics and recorded a parody titled "My Bologna".

He sent it to Dr. Demento, who played it to good response from listeners. Yankovic met The Knack after a show at his college and introduced himself as the author of "My Bologna". The Knack's lead singer, Doug Fieger, said he liked the song and suggested that Capitol Records vice president Rupert Perry release it as a single.

"My Bologna" was released as a single with "School Cafeteria" as its B-side, and the label gave Yankovic a six-month recording contract. Yankovic, who was "only getting average grades" in his architecture degree, began to realize that he might make a career of comedic music.

On September 14, 1980, Yankovic was a guest on the Dr. Demento Show, where he was to record a new parody live. The song was called "Another One Rides the Bus", a parody of Queen's hit, "Another One Bites the Dust".

While practicing the song outside the sound booth, he met Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz, who told him he was a drummer and agreed to bang on Yankovic's accordion case to help Yankovic keep a steady beat during the song. They rehearsed the song just a few times before the show began. 

"Another One Rides the Bus" became so popular that Yankovic's first television appearance was a performance of the song on The Tomorrow Show (April 21, 1981) with Tom Snyder. On the show, Yankovic played his accordion, and again, Schwartz banged on the accordion case and provided comical sound effects. Yankovic's record label, TK Records, went bankrupt about two weeks after the single was released, so Yankovic received no royalties from its initial release.

1981–1992: Band and fame: 1981 brought Yankovic on tour for the first time as part of Dr. Demento's stage show. His stage act in a Phoenix, Arizona, nightclub caught the eye of manager Jay Levey, who was "blown away". Levey asked Yankovic if he had considered creating a full band and doing his music as a career. Yankovic admitted that he had, so Levey held auditions. Steve Jay became Yankovic's bass player, and Jay's friend Jim West played guitar. Schwartz continued on drums. Yankovic's first show with his new band was on March 31, 1982. Several days later, Yankovic and his band were the opening act for Missing Persons.

Yankovic recorded "I Love Rocky Road", (a parody of "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" originally recorded by The Arrows) which was produced by Rick Derringer, in 1982. The song was a hit on Top 40 radio, leading to Yankovic's signing with Scotti Brothers Records.

In 1983, Yankovic's first self-titled album was released on Scotti Bros. The song "Ricky" was released as a single and the music video received exposure on the still-young MTV. "Ricky" broke the top 100 videos on MTV at the time, which Yankovic took as a sign that his career was in music, quitting his job as a mailroom clerk at the local offices of Westwood One to pursue the music career.

Yankovic released his second album "Weird Al" Yankovic in 3-D in 1984. The first single "Eat It", a parody of the Michael Jackson song "Beat It", became popular, thanks in part to the music video, a shot-for-shot parody of Jackson's "Beat It" music video, and what Yankovic sarcastically described as his "uncanny resemblance" to Jackson.

"Eat It" was also aided by the first of Yankovic's Al TV specials that aired on MTV on April 1, 1984, the network looking to Yankovic's rising popularity to help fill its programming time. Peaking at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 on April 14, 1984, "Eat It" remained Yankovic's highest-charting single until "White & Nerdy" placed at No. 9 in October 2006.

In 1985, Yankovic co-wrote and starred in a mockumentary of his own life titled The Compleat Al (the title being a parody of the 1982 documentary The Compleat Beatles), which intertwined the facts of his life up to that point with fiction.

The movie also featured some clips from Yankovic's trip to Japan and some clips from the Al TV specials. The Compleat Al was co-directed by Jay Levey, who would direct UHF four years later. Also released around the same time as The Compleat Al was The Authorized Al, a biographical book based on the film. The book, resembling a scrapbook, included real and fictional humorous photographs and documents.

Yankovic and his band toured as the opening act for The Monkees in mid-1987 for their second reunion tour of North America. Yankovic claims to have enjoyed touring with The Monkees, even though "the promoter gypped us out of a bunch of money".

In 1988 Yankovic was the narrator on the Wendy Carlos recording of Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf. The album also included a sequel to Camille Saint-Saëns's composition The Carnival of the Animals titled "The Carnival of the Animals Part II", with Yankovic providing humorous poems for each of the featured creatures in the style of Ogden Nash, who had written humorous poems for the original.

Yankovic's success led to a deal to for his film UHF, which premiered in July 1989. While the film had since become a cult title, its initial release was against mediocere reviews, and it was up against several other summer blockbusters, including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Ghostbusters II, Batman, and Licence to Kill. While Yankovic released an associated soundtrack album, UHF – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and Other Stuff, it was not as successful as his previous albums. Yankovic fell into a slump over the next three years as a result of the poor performance of the film.

Rubén Valtierra joined the band on keyboards in 1991, allowing Yankovic to concentrate more on singing and increasing his use of the stage space during concerts.

Up through 1992, six of Yankovic's albums were produced by Rick Derringer, for which he won two Grammy Awards. However, due to a combination of Yankovic's more complex musical scores (involving horns and other instruments), and drug-related issues that Derringer had at that time, Yankovic took over production of his albums in 1992.

1992–1997: Revived career: Yankovic had returned to the studio to prepare songs for his next album Off the Deep End around 1990, but during recording still did not have a strong parody and was waiting for the next big hit to work from.

When Jackson released his next album, Dangerous, and its hit single Black or White, Yankovic had quickly written a parody, "Snack All Night", from it, and hoped Jackson would all him to use the parody. Jackson denied Yankovic this, as Jackson felt Black or White carried a serious message that would be undermined by the parody.

Again, Yankovic fell into a mood and delayed release of Off the Deep End without a lead parody. Around this time, Nirvana and the grunge music scene began to take off. Yankovic wrote a parody of Nirvana's hit Smells like Teen Spirit, as Smells Like Nirvana and was able to secure the band's permission for the parody; Nirvana's lead singer Kurt Cobain was said that getting Yankovic to parody their work was a sign their band had "made it".

"Smells Like Nirvana" became the lead song on Off the Deep End, landing at #35 on the Billboard charts, his second top 40 hit in the United States. Off the Deep End reached #17 on the Billboard 200, and helped to revitalize Yankovic's career after the failure of UHF.

Yankovic's next two studio albums were modest successes in light of Off the Deep End. Alapalooza was released in 1993, and led with "Jurassic Park", a spoof of "MacArthur Park" by Richard Harris while mocking the 1993 film of the same name. Alapalooza peaked at #46 on the Billboard 200. Bad Hair Day in 1996 headlined with "Amish Paradise", a parody of Coolio's "Gangsta Paradise". "Amish Paradise" reached #53 on the top Billboard 100 singles, while the album reached #14 on the Billboard 200, and eventually was certified Double Platinum in sales by RIAA, making it one of Yankovic's more successful works.

In addition, Yankovic released a number of compilation works during this period, including Permanent Record: Al in the Box, a four-CD collection which included most of Yankovic's previous works as well as an informational booklet with contributions from Dr. Demento. Other compilations included Greatest Hits Volume II, a collection of songs that were not included in Permanent Record, and The TV Album, featuring songs loosely based on television shows.

1998–present: New look and later career: On January 24, 1998, Yankovic had LASIK eye surgery to correct his extreme myopia. When Running with Scissors debuted in 1999, he unveiled a radically changed look. In addition to shedding his glasses, he had shaved off his moustache and grown out his hair. He had previously shaved his moustache in 1983 for the video of "Ricky" to resemble Desi Arnaz, in 1989 for segments of the "UHF" music video, and in 1996 for the "Amish Paradise" video.

Yankovic reasoned, "If Madonna's allowed to reinvent herself every 15 minutes, I figure I should be good for a change at least once every 20 years." He parodied the reaction to this "new look" in a commercial for his nonexistent MTV Unplugged special. The commercial featured Yankovic in the short-haired wig from the music video for Hanson's "River", claiming his new look was an attempt to "get back to the core of what I'm all about", that being "the music".

Yankovic has also started to explore digital distribution of his songs. On October 7, 2008, Yankovic released to the iTunes Store "Whatever You Like", a parody of the T.I. song of the same title, which Yankovic said he had come up with two weeks before.

Yankovic said that the benefit of digital distribution is that "I don't have to wait around while my songs get old and dated—I can get them out on the Internet almost immediately." In 2009, Yankovic released four more songs: "Craigslist" on June 16, "Skipper Dan" on July 14, "CNR" on August 4, and "Ringtone" on August 25. These five digitally released songs were packaged as a digital EP titled Internet Leaks, with "Whatever You Like" retroactively included in the set.

In 2011, Yankovic completed his thirteenth studio album, titled Alpocalypse, which was released on June 21, 2011. The album contains the five songs from the previous Internet Leaks digital download release, a polka medley called "Polka Face", a song called "TMZ" for which Bill Plympton created an animated music video, and five other new songs.

Yankovic had reported an interest in parodying Lady Gaga's material, and on April 20 announced that he had written and recorded a parody of "Born This Way" titled "Perform This Way", to be the lead single for his new album.

However, upon first submitting it to Lady Gaga's manager for approval (which Yankovic does as a courtesy), he was not given permission to release it commercially. As he had previously done under similar circumstances (with his parody of James Blunt's "You're Beautiful", which was titled "You're Pitiful"), Yankovic then released the song for free on the internet.

Soon afterwards, Gaga's manager admitted that he had denied the parody of his own accord without forwarding the song to his client, and upon seeing it online, Lady Gaga granted permission for the parody.

Yankovic has stated that all of his proceeds from the parody and its music video will be donated to the Human Rights Campaign, to support the human rights themes of the original song. Yankovic was also a judge for the 10th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers.

Yankovic stated in September 2013 that he was working on a new album, but gave no details. In 2014, he used social media websites to hint at a July 15 release of this new album, as noted by Rolling Stone. The album artwork and title, Mandatory Fun, were affirmed by his publisher.

Yankovic said in an interview promoting the album that, with the end of his recording contract, it is likely his last traditional album, in the sense of recording and releasing that many songs at a time; he said he will likely switch to releasing singles and EPs over the Internet, a method which offers more immediate release opportunities as Yankovic considers his parodies in particular as something that can become dated by the time of release.

Mandatory Fun was released to strong critical praise and was the No. 1 debut album on the Billboard charts the week of its release, buoyed by Yankovic's approach for releasing eight music videos over eight continuous days that drew viral attention to the album as described below.

It became Yankovic's first No. 1 album in his career. Additionally, the song "Word Crimes" (a parody of Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines") reached No. 39 on the Top 100 singles for the same week; this is Yankovic's fourth Top 40 single, and made him the third musical artist, after Michael Jackson and Madonna, to have a Top 40 single in each decade since the 1980s. Since Mandatory Fun, Yankovic has not released any additional albums.

In a 2017 interview with Rolling Stone, Yankovic said, "I can't tell you when any material is coming out. Inspiration could strike tomorrow and I might have something out next month. There's no plan. It's just going to be whenever it winds up being."

After several years of fan-driven campaigns, Yankovic received his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2018.

In March 2018, Al released a new song, "The Hamilton Polka", a polka medley consisting of several songs from the musical Hamilton. The song holds the distinction of being the first polka song to chart on Billboard's Digital Songs Sales Chart. After Hamilton had premiered on Disney+ in July 2020, Yankovic released a video version of "The Hamilton Polka" that synched his song to video clips from the show. Also in March, Al released two remixes of songs by Portugal. The Man: "Feel It Still" and "Live in the Moment". In 2020, he collaborated with the band again on their single, "Who's Gonna Stop Me," which was released for Indigenous Peoples' Day.

Musical Style

Parodies: Yankovic is well known for creating parodies of contemporary radio hits, typically which make up about half of his studio releases. Unlike other parody artists such as Allan Sherman, Yankovic and his band strive to keep the backing music in his parodies the same as the original, transcribing the original song by ear and re-recording the song for the parody.

In some cases, in requesting the original band to allow for his parody, the band will offer to help out with the recreation: Dire Straits members Mark Knopfler and Guy Fletcher perform on "Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies*", Yankovic's parody of Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing", while Imagine Dragons provided Yankovic with advice on how to recreate some of the electronic sounds they used for "Radioactive" in Yankovic's parody "Inactive".

Yankovic's career in novelty and comedy music has outlasted many of his "mainstream" parody targets, such as Toni Basil, MC Hammer, and Men Without Hats. Yankovic's continued success (including the top 10 single "White & Nerdy" and album Straight Outta Lynwood in 2006) has enabled him to escape the one-hit wonder stigma often associated with novelty music.

Yankovic considers his body of work to primarily feature parodies, rather than satires of the original song or artist, as he found that satire of songs or artists has already been done before. Most Yankovic songs consist of the original song's music, with a separate, unrelated set of amusing lyrics.

Yankovic's humor normally lies more in creating unexpected incongruity between an artist's image and the topic of the song, contrasting the style of the song with its content (such as the songs "Amish Paradise", "White & Nerdy", and "You're Pitiful"), or in pointing out trends or works which have become pop culture clichés (such as "eBay" and "Don't Download This Song").

Yankovic's parodies are often satirical of popular culture, including television (see The TV Album), movies ("The Saga Begins"), and food (see The Food Album). Yankovic claims he has no intention of writing "serious" music. In his reasoning, "There's enough people that do unfunny music. I'll leave the serious stuff to Paris Hilton and Kevin Federline."

Yankovic considered that his first true satirical song was "Smells Like Nirvana", which references unintelligible lyrics in Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit". Other satirical songs include "Achy Breaky Song", which refers to the song "Achy Breaky Heart", "(This Song's Just) Six Words Long", which refers to the repetitious lyrics in "Got My Mind Set on You", and "Perform This Way", set to Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" that drew inspiration from Lady Gaga's outlandish but confident attitude.

Yankovic is the sole writer for all his songs and, for "legal and personal reasons", does not accept parody submissions or ideas from fans.

There exists, however, one exception to this rule: Madonna was reportedly talking with a friend and happened to wonder aloud when Yankovic was going to turn her "Like a Virgin" into "Like a Surgeon". Madonna's friend was a mutual friend of Yankovic's manager, Jay Levey, and eventually Yankovic himself heard the story from Levey.

In writing his parodies as well as his original songs, Yankovic spends a great deal of time in deciding the right words that not only match the beat of the original song but that fit theme of the parody. He says that some songs have taken him weeks to compose the lyrics to as he permeates the various choices, sometimes entering a "zombie phase" as he mulls these over in his home.

For example, Yankovic believes he could have written a completely different version of "White & Nerdy" based on the alternative choices of lyrics he had come up with and had discarded for the final song. He has also done significant research for other song parodies to get facts and keywords for certain areas of knowledge, such as for "I Think I'm a Clone Now" or hospitals for "Like a Surgeon". Yankovic has documented all these past lyrical attempts, first through binders and then computerized in case he needs to go back for future songs.

Polka Medleys: Most of Yankovic's studio albums include a polka medley of about a dozen contemporary songs at the time of the album, with the choruses or memorable lines of various songs juxtaposed for humorous effect.

In Yankovic's early career, before recording his first album, he had performed such polka medleys in live shows in California, though then using songs from lesser-known bands like Bad Brains and the Plasmatics. He had been inspired to do so from Spike Jones, who had transitioned classical music into polka.

Yankovic said that converting these songs to polka was "...the way God intended". Yankovic did not include a medley on his first album, but considered this for his second, In 3-D, recognizing that it would only work if he used well-known songs. The resulting "Polkas on 45", which featured songs from Devo, Deep Purple, Berlin, and The Beatles, was popular, and the polka medley became a staple of all but one of Yankovic's future albums.

Yankovic said that "fans would be rioting in the streets, I think, if I didn't do a polka medley." More current polka medleys features songs that Yankovic had wanted to parody but proved difficult, such as Daft Punk's "Get Lucky", which lacked sufficient lyrics to parody. The polkas are recorded in studio, including the sound effects which are performed live during recording, which Yankovic considered one of his favorite parts of recording.

Original songs: Yankovic has recorded numerous original humorous songs, such as "You Don't Love Me Anymore" and "One More Minute". Many of these songs are style pastiches of specific bands with allusions to specific songs. For example, "First World Problems" from Mandatory Fun is a style take on the Pixies, with the opening stanza reminiscent of the Pixies' "Debaser".

Other style parodies includes those of Rage Against the Machine with "I'll Sue Ya" (which features many aspects of the hit song "Killing in the Name"), Devo with "Dare to Be Stupid", Talking Heads with "Dog Eat Dog", Frank Zappa with "Genius in France", Nine Inch Nails with "Germs", and Queen with "Ringtone".

Some songs are pastiches of an overall genre of music, rather than a specific band (for example, country music with "Good Enough For Now", charity records with "Don't Download This Song") and college fight songs with "Sports Song". Yankovic stated that he does not have any unreleased original songs, instead coming up and committing to the song ideas he arrives at for his albums and other releases.

Yankovic has contributed original songs to several films ("This Is the Life" from Johnny Dangerously; "Polkamon" from the movie Pokémon: The Movie 2000, and a parody of the James Bond title sequence in Spy Hard), in addition to his own film, UHF. Other songs of his have appeared in films or television series as well, such as "Dare to Be Stupid" in The Transformers: The Movie.

Recurring themes: One of Yankovic's recurring jokes involves the number 27. It is mentioned in the lyrics of several songs, and seen on the covers for Running with Scissors, Poodle Hat and Straight Outta Lynwood.

He had originally just pulled the number 27 as a random figure to use in filling out lyrics, but as his fans started to notice the reuse of the number after the first few times, he began to purposely drop references to 27 within his lyrics, videos, and album covers.

He explains that "It's just a number I started using that people started attaching a lot of importance to." Other recurring jokes revolve around the names Bob (the Al TV interviews often mention the name, David Bowe's character in UHF is named Bob, and a song called "Bob", done in the style of Bob Dylan, is featured on Poodle Hat), Frank (e.g. "Frank's 2000" TV"), and the surname "Finkelstein" (e.g. the music video for "I Lost on Jeopardy", or Fran Drescher's character, Pamela Finkelstein, in UHF).

A number of songs use the phrase "internal organs". Also, a hamster called Harvey the Wonder Hamster is a recurring character in The Weird Al Show and the Al TV specials, as well as the subject of an original song on Alapalooza.

Other recurring jokes include Yankovic borrowing, or being owed, $5. In a number of Al TV interviews, he often asks if he can borrow $5, being turned down every time. This motif also occurs in "Why Does This Always Happen to Me?", in which his deceased friend owes him $5. Another recurring joke is his attraction to female nostrils or nostrils in general.

This also appears in numerous Al TV interviews as well as in several of his songs ("Albuquerque" and "Wanna B Ur Lovr" to name a few.) Yankovic also asks his celebrity guests if they could "shave his back for a nickel". This also appears in the song "Albuquerque". Yankovic has also put two backmasking messages into his songs. The first, in "Nature Trail to Hell", said "Satan Eats Cheez Whiz"; the second, in "I Remember Larry", said "Wow, you must have an awful lot of free time on your hands."

Music videos: While Yankovic's musical parodies generally do not include references to the songs or the artists of the original songs, Yankovic's music videos will sometimes parody the original song's music video in whole or in part.

Most notably, the video for "Smells Like Nirvana" uses an extremely similar set to Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit", including using several of the same actors. This video contended with "Smells like Teen Spirit" at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards for Best Male Video.

Other videos that draw directly from those of the original song include "Eat It", "Fat", "Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies*", "Bedrock Anthem", "Headline News", "It's All About the Pentiums", "Amish Paradise", "Like a Surgeon", and "White & Nerdy". The video for "Dare to Be Stupid" is, as stated by Yankovic, a style parody in general of Devo videos.

Several videos have included appearances by notable celebrities in addition to Yankovic and his band. Dr. Demento appeared in several of Yankovic's earlier videos, such as "I Love Rocky Road" and "Ricky".

Actor Dick Van Patten is featured in both "Smells Like Nirvana" and "Bedrock Anthem"; Drew Carey, Emo Philips and Phil LaMarr appeared in "It's All About the Pentiums"; Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Donny Osmond, Judy Tenuta and Seth Green appeared in "White & Nerdy"; and Ruth Buzzi and Pat Boone appeared in "Gump".

The video for "I Lost on Jeopardy" includes an appearance by Greg Kihn, the artist whose song, "Jeopardy", was being parodied, along with Don Pardo and Art Fleming, Jeopardy's original announcer and host, as themselves. Florence Henderson plays an Amish seductress in "Amish Paradise".

While most videos that Yankovic creates are aired on music channels such as MTV and VH1, Yankovic worked with animation artists to create music videos for release with extended content albums. The DualDisc version of Straight Outta Lynwood features six videos set to songs from the release, including videos created by Bill Plympton and John Kricfalusi; one video, "Weasel Stomping Day" was created by the producers of the show Robot Chicken, and aired as a segment of that program.

For the 2010 Alpocalypse, Yankovic produced videos for every song; four of those were previously released for each of the songs on the EP Internet Leaks, with the videos for the remaining songs released via social media sites and included in the deluxe edition of Alpocalypse. These live-action and animated videos were produced by both previous collaborators such as Plympton for "TMZ", video content providers like Jib-Jab and SuperNews!, and other directors and animators.

To help promote his 2014 album Mandatory Fun in social media circles, Yankovic produced eight music videos for the album releasing them over eight consecutive days with release of the album, believing it "would make an impact because people would be talking about the album all week long".

RCA Records opted not to fund production of any of these videos, and Yankovic turned to various social media portals including Funny or Die and CollegeHumor which he had worked with in the past; these sites helped to cover the production cost of the videos with Yankovic foregoing any ad video revenue.

He chose to distribute the videos to different portals to avoid burdening any single one with all of the costs and work needed to produce them. This approach proved to be successful, as the total collection of videos had acquired more than 20 million views in the first week.

This release strategy was considered by The Atlantic as a "web-enabled precision video delivery operation, and evidence of some serious digital distributional forethought" as it allows the videos to be seen by different sets of audiences for each site.

The approach was considered to be essential to promoting Mandatory Fun to reach the No. 1 position on the Billboard charts on its debut week. Businessweek attributed the sales success of Mandatory Fun to the viral music video campaign. ABC World News elaborated that Yankovic's success is in part due to the Internet's interest in viral and humorous videos catching up with what Yankovic has been doing for his entire career.

Yankovic himself was amazed with the response he got from the album and video releases, stating that "I've been doing the same thing for 30 years and all of a sudden I'm having the best week of my life" and that he "kind of stumbled on my formula for the future".

Live performances: Yankovic often describes his live concert performances as "a rock and comedy multimedia extravaganza" with an audience that "ranges from toddlers to geriatrics". Apart from Yankovic and his band performing his classic and contemporary hits, staples of Yankovic's live performances include a medley of parodies, many costume changes between songs, and a video screen on which various clips are played during the costume changes.

A concert from Yankovic's 1999 tour, "Touring with Scissors", for the Running with Scissors album was released on VHS in 1999 and on DVD in 2000. Titled "Weird Al" Yankovic Live!, the concert was recorded at the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael, California, on October 2, 1999. For legal reasons, video clips (apart from those for Yankovic's own music videos) could not be shown for the home release, and unreleased parodies were removed from the parody medley for the performance.

In 2003, Yankovic toured overseas for the first time. Before 2003, Yankovic and his band had toured only the United States and parts of Canada. Following the success of Poodle Hat in Australia, Yankovic performed eleven shows in Australia's major capital cities and regional areas in October of that year. Yankovic returned to Australia and toured New Zealand for the first time in 2007 to support the Straight Outta Lynwood album. On September 8, 2007, Yankovic performed his 1,000th live show at Idaho Falls, Idaho.

Yankovic has invited members of the 501st Legion on stage during performances of his Star Wars-themed songs "Yoda" and "The Saga Begins", recruiting members of local garrisons (club chapters) while on tour. In appreciation, the 501st inducted Yankovic as a "Friend of the Legion", in September 2007.

He performed his first ever European mini-tour, including an appearance at the All Tomorrow's Parties music festival in Minehead, England in December 2010. Yankovic was picked to perform by the Canadian band Godspeed You! Black Emperor, who curated the festival's lineup. Yankovic played three other dates in the UK around his festival appearance before performing a single date in the Netherlands.

A second concert film, "Weird Al" Yankovic Live!: The Alpocalypse Tour, aired on Comedy Central on October 1, 2011, and was released on Blu-ray and DVD three days later. The concert was filmed at Massey Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, during Yankovic's tour supporting the album Alpocalypse. As before, video clips (apart from those for his own videos) and unreleased songs were edited out for legal reasons.

Yankovic performed George Harrison's "What Is Life" at the live-recorded George Fest (Los Angeles, 2014). DVD and Blu-Ray CD combos of the concert honoring George Harrison became available in early 2016.

Following the release of Mandatory Fun, Yankovic toured across the United States, Canada, and selected overseas venues in the "Mandatory World Tour" from 2015 through 2016, principally featuring songs from this album. 

After taking a year off, Yankovic returned to tour in the United States and Canada from February to June 2018 in "The Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour". On this tour, he performed mostly original songs (not parodies) and did not use costumes, props, or video screens. Comedian Emo Philips was the opening act. A further staple of this tour was Yankovic's cover performance of a different famous song at each venue, which Yankovic stated was something he and his band enjoyed doing.

Starting in June 2019, Yankovic went on his "Strings Attached Tour", where he performed every show backed by a forty-one piece orchestra assembled from local musicians. The tour was inspired by a 2016 performance he did with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, which he considered a "religious experience" and sought to replicate on tour. 

The shows were generally much shorter, as under unions rules Yankovic could only perform 90 minutes per show with an orchestra, requiring him to select songs that he felt would be ones that he had either long wanted to with an orchestra, such as the deep-cut "Harvey the Wonder Hamster" from Alapalooza, or that fit best with the orchestra backing. Yankovic had the shows open with the orchestra performing a few instrumental themes, seemingly giving the concert a high-brow quality, before he and his band entered and played his songs backed by the orchestra. The concerts finished with a large flashy production around Star Wars, including his songs The Saga Begins and Yoda.