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'Alpocalypse' is coming

When parody artist "Weird Al" Yankovic was trying to pick a new name for his latest album, he started by jotting names in a notebook. Then he was struck with inspiration from a trendy wave of public fear — the end of the Mayan calendar — and decided he had a winner.

"I guess this is the year when the world comes to an end, and I thought I'd cash in on that," Yankovic says of "Alpocalypse," his first full-length studio album in nearly five years.

Yankovic brings his "Alpocalypse" tour to the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater, 23 S. Central Ave., Medford on Sunday, Aug. 19. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.

"It's a circus," Yankovic says of his new show. "It's awesome. It just gets bigger and bigger every time out. We just continually try to step it up."

Yankovic, who got his start as a teenager by sending in homemade tapes to the Dr. Demento Radio Show, has been entertaining for four decades.

He is one of the most successful comedy recording artists in history, having sold more than 12 million albums and garnering three Grammy awards.

Some of his biggest hit songs are "Eat It," "Like a Surgeon," "Fat," "Smells Like Nirvana," "Amish Paradise" and "The Saga Begins."

He's also gained fame for his television and video work, including his cult film "UHF," his late '90s Saturday morning series on CBS, "The Weird Al Show," and his AL-TV series of videos created for MTV and VH1.

Yankovic says "White & Nerdy," from his 2006 album "Straight Outta Lynwood," is his favorite.

"It's the most autobiographical song," Yankovic says.

The video for "White & Nerdy" reached No. 1 on iTunes for two weeks and has had more than 100 million views on the Web.

Yankovic says coming up with parodies isn't drudgery.

"I'm still very interested in pop culture and have my finger on the pulse of pop culture," Yankovic says. "It's not painful for me to listen to the radio, so I enjoy it."

Yankovic says he always asks permission from the artists he's poking fun at before he composes new material.

"I will immediately try to contact the original artist," Yankovic says. "I don't want to spend the time if they flat out don't like parodies."

If he gets the green light, he'll spend time coming up with ideas and concepts.

"It's like a puzzle. I'll try to put it all together and hope it's funny," Yankovic says.

How does he know it's funny?

"I use my own kind of calibration," he says. "It's hard to do comedy in a vacuum, so I'll run my lyrics by my wife or whoever is in the room, but mostly I rely on my own sick brain."

Yankovic worked as a DJ at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, where he earned a degree in architecture. He dubbed himself "Weird Al" because he liked to play weird music.

"I kind of considered myself the surrogate Dr. Demento of my campus," Yankovic says. "I felt it was my duty and obligation to play some comedy, novelty, odd stuff, new wave, whatever I had in my personal collection."

Tickets for Yankovic's show cost $47, $50 or $53, and $34, $37 or $40 for ages 18 and younger. Call 541-779-3000 or see www.craterian.org.

'Weird Al' Yankovic worked as a DJ at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, where he earned a degree in architecture. He dubbed himself “Weird Al” because he liked to play weird music. - Photo courtesy of Imaginery Entertainment