Lin-Manuel Miranda Talked Himself Out Of A Job With Weird Al
The list of music icons who aren’t Weird Al fans is pretty much just Weezer, Yoko Ono, and Prince’s ghost. This past Friday, legendary composer, playwright, and filmmaker Lin-Manuel Miranda went on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to promote his upcoming songbook, his residency in Las Vegas, and, for some reason, the upcoming parody biopic Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, a project with which the Hamilton creator has no confirmed connection beyond being a huge, massive, embarrassing Weird Al fanboy.
Miranda told the origin story of his love for the parody icon and described his first meeting with Weird Al during which Miranda, then just an aspiring music legend instead of an established one, completely blew his chances of working with his hero by telling Al about all the other writers who Al should work with instead of himself. Said Miranda, "I really pooped the bed.”
Fallon asked Miranda about his childhood inspirations while discussing Miranda’s upcoming piano/vocal/guitar songbook, The Lin-Manuel Miranda Collection, and Miranda had a surprise answer, saying, “I had the Weird Al songbook. Of course I had the Weird Al songbook.” Miranda said of his youthful aspirations, “My ambition was not as high as writing musicals when I was a kid. My dream was, ‘Maybe when Weird Al retires, I can be the next one.’”
Unfortunately, Miranda had to settle for winning 11 Tony Awards, three Grammys, two Emmys, a Macarthur Fellowship, and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama all while creating the most popular musical of the last decade with Hamilton. However, long before Miranda was a household name with a warehouse full of trophies, he was an aspiring music writer who was tapped by Weird Al as a potential candidate to help the Prince of Parody develop a full-length comedy musical.
“I took a meeting at his house in Hollywood and I drove there myself in a rented car,” said Miranda, “It's like meeting Santa Claus, meeting Weird Al … And I was so nervous that I, like, self-destructed." Miranda’s self-consciousness in the presence of his childhood hero got the best of him, and the future Encanto composer spent a good chunk of the interview telling Al about all the writers who would be a better fit for the project than him.
“Midway through it I said, ‘You know who you should work with? Bobby Lopez (who wrote Frozen, Encanto, and The Book of Mormon). He’s writing a show with the South Park guys. They’re funny, you’re funny, you should write with them!’” Miranda said as he frantically recalled mid-meeting meltdown. “I, like, talked him out of working with me… I got in my car, and I was like the guy from Boogie Nights, like ‘You’re an idiot. You’re an idiot. Why did you do that? Why did you do that?’”
Despite the initial embarrassment, Miranda says that he and Al have grown close post-Hamilton after Al approached him to do a polka medley of the award-winning soundtrack. Said Miranda, who is as much a fan now as when he was a teenager writing his own Al-inspired parodies, “it’s amazing that he’s friends with me.”
Miranda also took the time to plug Al's upcoming biopic, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, despite Miranda not being on the list of names attached to the film. When Fallon asked about the possibility of Miranda making a surprise appearance, Miranda slyly hinted to the audience, “I might have a cameo. I might have a cameo in it.”
Maybe Weird Al will have a cameo in the next tour of Hamilton – we’d love to see his take on Aaron Burr singing a Chris Rock/Will Smith-themed parody cover titled “The Room Where It Slappens.”