Back in 2011, I worked on a fairly extensive oral history of The Dana Carvey Show for GQ — a show that only lasted seven episodes, but featured a murderer’s row of today’s biggest comedy stars: Names like Louis C.K., Stephen Colbert, Robert Smigel, Steve Carell, Robert Carlock… and Charlie Kaufman. As Carell said about Kaufman for that piece, “Who knew that way back then, the quiet guy at the end of the hall was going to become the mad genius of cinema?”
I never got the opportunity to speak to Kaufman for the GQ piece, but many of his former colleagues spoke highly of him. But my favorite story came from 30 Rock and future Kimmy Schmidt showrunner Robert Carlock, who details an never-aired sketch that Kaufman wrote about Weird Al Yankovic and Weird Al’s brother, Weirder Al Yankovic:
The one sketch of his I really enjoyed was Weird Al Yankovic and his brother, Weirder Al Yankovic—who took Weird Al Yankovic’s songs and parodied them so they would turn back into the original song. And then Weirdest Al Yankovic would take those songs and make gibberish out of them. The usual meta nonsense.
Earlier this week, I spoke to Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson, who together directed the wonderful Anomalisa. I’ve been waiting four years to ask Kaufman about this lost Weirder Al Yankovic sketch and Kaufman did not disappoint, remembering it in greater detail than I ever imagined he would. (It’s great that, tucked away in his brain, amid all the wonderful things Kaufman has written, he still has a place for Weirder Al.) The full interview will publish in a few weeks, but for my own personal satisfaction, here’s Kaufman talking about his lost Weirder Al Yankovic sketch.
Robert Carlock said you wrote a sketch in which Weirder Al Yankovic converts Weird Al’s songs back to normal?
No, I think the sketch went: There was Weird Al Yankovic, Weirder Al Yankovic, Weirdest Al Yankovic and — I’m not sure, I may be making this part up — then there was Regular Al Yankovic. And they were just named that by their parents. So, it got more and more insane. One of them would do a parody of the other one doing the other one. And then the third one would turn it back to the regular song.
I wish this existed.
Well, a lot of people really liked it and talked about it. And then they were going to do it on Mr. Show, because Dino Stamatopoulos and David Cross and Bob Odenkirk all worked on Carvey. But Mr. Show decided that they didn’t want to do anything that was based on real people in popular culture. That was one of their rules. So, it never got made. It’s a shame. [Sarcastically] It’s a terrible shame.
Mike Ryan has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and New York magazine. He is senior entertainment writer at Uproxx. You can contact him directly on Twitter.