Weird Al Yankovic has made a career out of his two passions: music and comedy. For years he’s been creating parodies of popular songs such as Michael Jackson’s Beat It (which he turned into the catchy tune Eat It) and Ridin’ Dirty by Chamillionaire and Krayzie Bone (which became the hilarious song White & Nerdy). The Grammy Award-winning singer is now conquering the world of children’s literature with his “humorous and whimsical” book When I Grow Up.
But did you know he is also a devoted family man? Weird Al sat down with Celebrity Baby Scoop and discussed his adorable soon-to-be 8-year-old daughter Nina, how fatherhood has shifted his priorities and how he hopes to inspire children with his new book.
CBS: Congratulations on your new children’s book When I Grow Up. Tell us about it.
WAY: “When I Grow Up tells the story of a hyper-imaginative 8-year-old kid named Billy who, much to his teacher’s chagrin, uses his show-and-tell time to describe – in great detail – all the bizarre, unusual future vocations he’s considering. It’s humorous and whimsical, but hopefully it also will get kids thinking about the universe of possibilities that awaits them.”
CBS: Do you think as a society we need to do more to encourage creativity in our kids?
WAY: “Kids are extremely creative and imaginative by nature, so as long as we don’t crush their spirits – as long as we keep reminding them that it’s okay to think differently and express themselves in unconventional ways – I think they’re going to be fine.”
CBS: What did you hope to be when you were a kid?
WAY: “I remember when I was very young I either wanted to be a fireworks-maker or a designer of miniature golf courses. A few years after that I thought maybe I could be a writer for Mad magazine – but after my guidance counselor convinced me that I most likely wouldn’t be able to make a living doing comedy, I decided to go to college and get a degree in architecture instead.”
CBS: You stay pretty busy being a singer-songwriter, music producer, actor, comedian and parodist. How do you manage all these things and raise a family?
WAY: “My family is the first priority, of course, which means that everything else just needs to slow down a little bit. In the ‘80s (when I was single) I would crank out an album every year. Now it’s every 4 years or so. I still tour, but we have a rule that I can’t go more than 2 weeks without seeing my wife and daughter. So either they’ll join me on the road for a few days, or I’ll make a pit stop back home.”
CBS: How old is your daughter Nina? What is she into? Do you see some of you in her?
WAY: “Nina will be turning 8 years old shortly after my book comes out. She’s very much into nature and animals (especially birds), and she’s also an amazing artist. She was very excited about Star Wars for a few years, but now she’s more obsessed with dinosaurs. Nina has a wonderful imagination, and she’s very funny. Physically, she has a lot of her mother’s features, but she’s very flexible like me, and for better or worse, our toes look exactly alike.”
CBS: What does your daughter think about the “Weird Al” persona? Is he the same at home as on stage or screen?
WAY: “Well, no, that would be a little off-putting, wouldn’t it? My daughter enjoys watching me perform, but she also realizes that I’m not going to be acting that way around the breakfast table. She understands the concept of what I do for a living.”
CBS: What’s one of your favorite father/daughter moments?
WAY: “When my daughter was a toddler, just learning to talk, she was crazy about baby ducks. She loved them to death. Anything with a picture of a baby duck on it made her happy, and when she actually got to see real baby ducks she was positively delirious. During that time period, when she would hug me goodnight, she would often smile and say ‘baby ducks,’ which, if you understood her very limited vocabulary, meant that she was content and very happy. And then I would say ‘baby ducks’ back to her.”
CBS: We read that you follow a strictly vegetarian diet. Why did you choose to become a vegetarian?
WAY: “Many years ago I found out something about hamburgers that really grossed me out. You may not know this, so I hope I don’t make you sick, but it turns out hamburgers are actually made out of dead cows. I am not making this up. Needless to say, as soon as I discovered that, I gave up meat entirely.”
CBS: Is it true that you’re going to do a Lady Gaga parody?
WAY: “Yikes. Several months ago a journalist asked me if I was going to do a Lady Gaga parody on my next album, and I said something like, ‘Well, she’s obviously a huge star, and like any huge star making music at the moment, I’d have to consider it, wouldn’t I?’ And then the next day in about a thousand papers, there was the headline: “Weird Al Considering Lady Gaga Parody!” It was pretty silly – must’ve been a slow news day or something. Anyway, the answer is the same now – I wouldn’t rule out a Lady Gaga parody, but currently I don’t have anything planned.”
CBS: There were rumors you were signing a Cartoon Network feature film early last year which fell through. Are you going to pursue this film elsewhere?
WAY: “The screenplay that I wrote for Cartoon Network was geared pretty specifically for them; it would probably need a bit of tweaking before it could be pitched elsewhere. I’ve got a pretty busy year ahead of me, so I’m guessing the script will probably just go back into my file cabinet for a while.”
CBS: Do you have any new projects you’re working you’d like to tell us about?
WAY: “I have several things I’m developing, but unfortunately there’s not much I can talk about right now. Aside from the book, about the only thing I can mention is I will be doing some more touring this year. And my new album is painfully close to being completed, so hopefully that will come out sometime this year too.”