Top 10 Cameos in ‘The Simpsons’ (Round 1)
So this is how we’re going to play this: there have been a massive number of celebrities and public figures adding their voices to The Simpsons over the past decades. Winding that number down to 10 is a daunting task so we’ve decided to make two Top 10’s. This article will only feature guest stars who played themselves, then tune in next week for the Top 10 cameos who play other characters. Make sure you voice your suggestions in the comments!
#10 – Adam West
Let’s start this undertaking off with some Batman. Following his role as Batman in the original television series West found himself heavily typecast to the point that he was forced to make a living doing live appearances as the caped crusader. This is said to be a rather dark time for the performer. That being said it is quite nice seeing that he can have a sense of humour about the experience, claiming to be the ‘real’ Batman and running off such an unusual triade about him not needing moulded latex and being ‘pure West’ that Bart, Lisa and Homer are left backing away…slowly…
#9 – N*SYNC
It’s not so much who they are or what they did on the show that earns them a spot on this list, but the behind the scenes malarkey. As it turns out Justin Timberlake got a little precious about his image during the recording session and refused to follow the script. What he took issue with was saying the line “word!” without any real context. Timberlake felt that this wasn’t fitting in with the N*SYNC image. The director and producers only got one take out of him, but milked it for all it’s worth. They looped the take and added it to the end of almost every N*SYNC line of dialogue. Word.
#8 – Professor Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking is quite a good sort when it comes to The Simpsons. Already a vocal fan on both this show and Futurama he’s managed to pop in a few times over the years. Whenever the people of Springfield needs an explanation of advanced physics or the local MENSA chapter needs assistance Professor Hawking turns up to solve their problems. He rarely has a central role in the action, just popping in and out. Best moment – clobbering Homer with a spring-loaded boxing glove for trying to impersonate his artificial voice.
#7 – Mark Hamill
Like Adam West this performer became very strongly associated with a particular role: Luke Skywalker. Although he’s found his place in the entertainment industry as a voice actor (best Joker ever, bar none) it took him a long time to escape from the Star Wars shadow. This is parodied in his The Simpsons appearance when he takes a part in a stage production of Guys and Dolls, except that the club owner has rejigged the play to fill it with Star Wars references. In an odd twist Hamill also voices the club owner.
#6 – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Anyone who read the autobiography Scar Tissue will already know that RHCP frontman Anthony Kiedis does not know the meaning of the word ‘humble’. Not really very shocking when the band routinely perform wearing nothing but modesty socks. It’s quite refreshing to see them so willingly take the piss out of themselves in this fashion, with the voice work suggesting that they were having a blast doing it. They get a spot for the scene when Krusty suggests that they change their lyrics.
#5 – Leonard Nimoy
The original Spock has turned up in Springfield more than once, appearing in the classic episodes Marge vs the Monorail and The Springfield Files. In each instance he plays himself and very much parodies his own reputation. Quoting Star Trek, basking in solar phenomena and generally being mysterious and aloof. Some of the best material is everyone else responding to him:
Nimoy: A solar eclipse…the cosmic ballet continues.
Passenger: Does anyone want to swap seats?
#4 – Bette Midler
You know why she made the cut.
#3 – Buzz Aldrin
The range of guests that have appeared on The Simpsons beggars belief. Everyone from politicians to scientists, pop stars to theatre actors, and even the second man on the moon have appeared. What makes Buzz Aldrin’s appearance so memorable is how good the material based around him is. The line “look out: they’re ruffled!” is pretty awesome, but nothing beats the awkward silence following “second comes right after first!”
#2 – Lollapalooza
There are so many great cameos and jokes in this episode you’re just going to have to pick your favourite. Peter Frampton and his lost pig, Sonic Youth stealing watermelon, Cypress Hill booking the London symphony orchestra…it’s an episode with some of the best gags in the series. Personally we’re sticking with “Homer Simpson, smiling politely”.
#1 – The Beatles
I love The Simpsons. I also love The Beatles. They’re two things that have been a big part of my life and seeing them come together in such brilliant ways is fantastic. Up until very recently Ringo Starr would work through his massive back catalogue of fan mail and send back personal responses. Considering that the amount of fan mail the Beatles would receive in their hey-day this was quite a commitment, and he worked on it for decades. An entire episode of The Simpsons was shaped around this little tidbit, with Marge receiving a very long awaited reply from the megastar that re-invigorates her love of painting. Ringo took the time out from answering fan mail to voice himself.
Next was the late, great George Harrison. When Homer, Barney, Apu and Principal Skinner make it big with a barbershop quartet called the Be Sharps they start moving in some pretty famous circles. Homer comes face to face with George Harrison, and this amazing exchange takes place:
Finally, as Lisa is taking her first steps into vegetarianism she gets her validation from Apu. And Paul and Linda McCartney who tend a garden on the roof of the Kwick-E-Mart for some unknown reason. As far as cameos run it’s a bit preachy, but the message that everyone needs to respect each others diet choices is one a few vegetarians need to hear (before you get cranky in the comments, I am a vegetarian as well). The tease that they’re going to perform a song is worth a giggle as well.
Remember to check back next week for the Top 10 Cameos (Playing Different Characters) on ‘The Simpsons’!