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"Weird Al" Yankovic breaks down the art of parody

He's lampooned the music of everyone from Madonna to Michael Jackson

As long as the music industry keeps churning out hits, "Weird Al" Yankovic won't have to worry about running out of material.

In a career now in its fourth decade, Yankovic's song parodies have lampooned chart-toppers ranging from The Knack's "My Sharona" — reimagined as an ode to luncheon meat — to Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," which Yankovic turned into a riff about people with bad grammar.

Yankovic also struck comedy gold with his parodies of Michael Jackson's hits "Bad," and "Beat It," among other hits.

What makes a pop song ripe for parody?

"I try to pick a song that's popular, that's hit No. 1 on the charts," Yankovic said in a phone interview. "But it's got to be a song with some musical or lyrical hook that makes it immediately identifiable. If it's an artist or a band that has a personality that's easy to lampoon, that's a plus."

The four-time Grammy winner brings his repertoire to southcentral Pennsylvania when he performs at the Hershey Theatre on Sept. 13.

It's part of Yankovic's Mandatory World Tour that will take him to 200 cities over the course of two years.

Some entertainers might bemoan the constant traveling.

But Yankovic sees it as a chance to sleep late, surf the Internet and catch up on some of his favorite TV shows. He's been watching "Mr. Robot" and comedian Louis CK's series "Horace and Pete."

"I like being brainless on the road," Yankovic said. "I get to binge-watch a  lot of TV I wouldn't get to see otherwise. A normal person would consider it a huge waste of time."

Growing up in the Los Angeles area, Yankovic's early musical influences included satirists and comedians Tom Lehrer, Stan Freberg and Allan Sherman.

Yankovic's latest album "Mandatory Fun," is the first comedy disc to hit No. 1 on Billboard's Top 200 chart since Sherman's "My Son, the Nut," in 1963.

Yankovic's fans, in addition to seeing him on tour, will also soon get to catch him — his voice, anyway — on the small screen.

Yankovic does the voice for the title character in the Disney XD cartoon show "Milo Murphy's Law."

The show premieres Oct. 3.

If You Go

What: "Weird Al" Yankovic brings his Mandatory World tour to Hershey Theatre

Where: Hershey Theatre, 15 E. Caracas Ave., Hershey

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13

Tickets: Remaining tickets are $39 to $45

To order: At the box office, online at or by phone at 717-534-3405