Since getting his start sending home tapes to the Dr. Demento Radio Show as an accordion-wielding teen in the ’70s, ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic has become a cultural icon beloved for his extensive catalog of pop song parodies. A touchstone of MTV’s heyday – with music videos for “Eat It,” “White and Nerdy,” and “Like a Surgeon” – the singer-songwriter lampooned everything from grunge to gangster rap,  cementing his status as one of alt comedy’s most innovative and enduring voices.

Over his 40 decades in show business, Yankovic became the biggest-selling comedy recording artist of all time, receiving five Grammys, and four gold records for his albums. He’s written two children’s books, 2011’s When I Grow Up and 2013’s My New Teacher and Me! and his last comedy album, 2014’s Mandatory Fun, became his first number-one hit during its debut week. In January, it was announced that Daniel Radcliffe would be starring as Yankovic in a much-anticipated biopic of the artist’s life, set to be released on Roku later this year.

Sharing a recommended reading with for the New York Post, Yankovic included biographies of his comedy heroes, Steve Martin and Allan Sherman, along with more serious tomes on the limits and rewards of human endurance. Find his favorite books below, and check out the bookshelves of other famous comics here.

Weird Al’s Reading List

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin (also rec’d by Bill Nye & Trevor Noah)

“I don’t think there’s anyone in my generation who’s as much of a comedian rock star. He paints a great picture of going from working tiny clubs to playing huge arenas, and his search to find his own comic voice. He’s always done comedy on his own terms.” -WA

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

“I usually read light, funny things, and this isn’t that: It’s a real saga of Louis Zamperini, the toughest, bravest guy on the planet. In World War II, his plane went down over the Pacific and he was stranded for weeks, punching sharks in the face, before he wound up in a Japanese prison camp, where he was tortured daily. I can’t handle it when they run out of croissants on my first-class flight to New York!” -WA

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (also rec’d by Jay-Z)

“It’s not wonky, it’s a page-turner. He’s debunking the myth of the self-made man, saying that while talent is a part of success, it’s more a combination of opportunity and effort. If you put in 10,000 hours doing something, you’ll be great. I thought I’d be an architect but got on the ‘Dr. Demento’ radio show…” -WA

Overweight Sensation by Mark Cohen

“Allan Sherman [‘Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah’] passed away when I was 13, before I got to meet him. He’s one of my all-time heroes, and on my Mount Rushmore of musical inspirations. This book is a kind of cautionary tale about his rise and fall. He was so popular for a short period of time, then made a lot of really bad decisions. Fame ruined him.” -WA

(via The New York Post)

Categories: Comedians Musicians