Hey! Welcome to the second annual Weird Al Week! Over the course of seven days, Milwaukee Record will fill your feed with fresh, funny, and slightly fanatical Al-related materiel. It all leads up to Weird Al’s “Strings Attached” show at the Miller High Life Theatre on July 27! Fun!
Imagine, for a moment, a television channel that played nothing but music videos. Like, all day, every day. Now, imagine if that same television channel occasionally gave over a sizable chunk of its programming to an artist primarily known for goofy parody songs about food. Well, there’s no need to imagine, because THIS…IS AL TV!
Yes, for 10 times between the years 1984 and 2006, MTV (and later VH1) gave “Weird Al” Yankovic the keys to the proverbial castle. The premise of Al TV was simple: using a private satellite transmitter and broadcasting from his fever-dream bedroom, Al would take over the airwaves and play the videos he wanted to watch. Celebrity “interviews,” music and movie news, fake commercials, random sketches, plenty of Al videos, and other Al-tastic shenanigans would also be involved. While the latter-day installments ran an hour or two, the earliest Al TV specials ran for a whopping four hours.
Here’s the very first installment, which aired on April 1 (of course), 1984. The rocket noises, the moon landing toys, and the accordion theme are still hilarious.
Al TV was a glorified promo, of course (each installment corresponded to a new Al album, covering most everything from In 3-D to Straight Outta Lynwood), but good grief, what a glorified promo it was. And how mind-boggling is it that MTV, at the height of its powers, would give any artist such freedom? The bite-the-hand-that-feeds aspect of the show is right up there with the Deadpool movies.
The most popular Al TV segments were the celebrity “interviews.” Using questions from himself and pairing them with existing celebrity interview clips, Al would seemingly have ridiculous and absurd conversations with everyone from George Harrison and Snoop Dogg to Tom Petty and Celine Dion (his “close, personal friends”). The segments proved so popular that they’re still used in Al’s live show today. Who could forget his extended piss-take chat with Eminem? Know what I’m saying?
Like Al’s music, the best installment of Al TV is the one you saw when you were roughly 13 years old. So may we submit the 1992 installment—tied to the release of Off The Deep End—as the Very Best Installment of Al TV.
The Ozzy Osbourne interview is worth the price of admission alone. Now what the hell is hammysink?!
Okay, the Vince Neil one is goofy-nutty-zany-cuckoo, too.
And Tom Petty. And George Harrison. (“They were all…alcoholics!”)
So yeah, the interviews were great. But there was something to be said for the “general fooling around” aspect of Al TV, too. Hell, it could even lead to real-life, non-silly revelations. The 1992 installment was the first time we saw the anime video for Matthew Sweet’s “Girlfriend,” for example (spiked here with clips from Ren & Stimpy).
And then there was this.
The clips go on. Unfortunately, Al TV did not. The final one-hour special (of almost nothing but celebrity “interviews”) aired December 15, 2006 on VH1. And while it’s inconceivable to imagine something like Al TV existing today (ditto old-school MTV and VH1), the internet-takeover publicity blitz surrounding 20014’s Mandatory Fun came close. Does this conclude the AL TV broadcasting day? Probably. But what a run.