It has been more than 50 years since a comedy album reached the top of the Billboard 200 chart. So it’s easy to see why “Weird” Al Yankovic did not expect his latest record, Mandatory Fun, to hit No. 1. When the comedy singer received the news on Tom Green Live, he was clearly in shock.
“Weird Al” appeared on the AXS TV series last week, before the Billboard chart was even printed. Green then surprised the singer with a framed printout of the rankings, featuring Mandatory Fun at No. 1. “Weird Al” was nearly brought to tears when he discovered his accomplishment.
“Wow. Wow,” “Weird Al” said when presented with the proof of his No. 1 album. “Thank you. I’m having a moment… this is really amazing.”
“It doesn’t feel real,” replied “Weird Al.” “This is something that I never thought was possible. I never thought in my wildest I would be looking at something like that. There’s never been a comedy album practically my entire lifetime at the top of the charts. You just thought that was not ever going to happen. It’s pretty crazy.”
Watch “Weird Al” Yankovic react to his No. 1 album below.
Indeed, the last comedy album to reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 before “Weird Al” Yankovic’s Mandatory Fun was Allan Sherman’s 1963 record My Son, The Nut. The closest efforts came from Cheech & Chong and Steve Martin, who each reached No. 2 in the 1970s.
Ironically, “Weird Al” Yankovic’s first No. 1 album came a year after the comedian announced that he would focus on digital singles instead of full records once his current contract expired. And the success of Mandatory Fun has not changed his strategy.
“I continue to think the same things that I thought prior to the album going to Number 1,” “Weird Al” Yankovic said. “I still think that albums for me are not the most efficient or intelligent way for me to present my music to the public. I would prefer to get my songs out in a more timely fashion.”
“Weird Al” Yankovic’s use of digital media likely helped Mandatory Fun reach No. 1 on Billboard. The singer released one music video a day for eight straight days to celebrate the album’s release. This allowed some of his hilarious parodies, like the incredibly catchy “Tacky” (based off Pharrell’s “Happy”) , and the grammar nerd’s anthem “Word Crimes” (a takeoff of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”) to go viral and fuel album sales.
“There was always the danger people would get tired of it, by the third day I was wondering if people would be going, ‘Oh no, more Al,’” Yankovic said of his Mandatory Fun strategy. “[Instead] it kind of had a snowball effect. By the end of the eight days there was a little bit of a Pavlovian effect as well, because when it ended, people were like, ‘Where’s the “Weird Al” video?”
Watch “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “Word Crimes” video below.