Inspired by the bizarre news that highbrow German filmmaker Werner Herzog (‘Aguirre the Wrath of God’, ‘Fitzcarraldo’, ‘Grizzlyman’) is to appear in loveable US sitcom ‘Parks and Recreation’, we’ve compiled six of the oddest sitcom cameos. Short, long, hilarious, toe-curling – all bases are covered.
1. Stephen Hawking in ‘The Big Bang Theory’
Nerd up! It’s a cameo from everyone’s favourite theoretical physicist and former Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge (thanks Wikipedia). In a 2012 episode of the all-conquering nerdcom, uber-geek Sheldon hyperventilates after Hawking has the gall to criticise his work. The pair’s exchange has a couple of neat gags and is nowhere near as awkward as you’d expect – high praise indeed!
Watch out for the blooper reel where Prof Hawking breaks mid-scene and cracks up very, very slowly. Ha… ha… ha… ha.
2. Yoko Ono in ‘Mad About You’
‘My Wife and I Sure Do See Things Differently!’ is how those wags at The Onion summed up the limp men-are-from-Mars-women-are-from-Venus shtick of Paul Reiser’s New York sitcom. A pretty middle of the road affair, then. That is until producers flicked an avant-garde streak of paint at the televisual canvas in the form of every Beatles’ fan’s fave bête noire, Yoko Ono. The result? Sheer tedium!
Compare the smugness and banality of this mercifully short clip to Yoko’s unofficial (and brilliant) cameo in ‘The Simpsons’. ‘I will have a single plum floating in perfume served in a man’s hat’.
3. Thomas Pynchon in ‘The Simpsons’
What do you mean you’ve never heard of Thomas Pynchon? He’s America’s foremost post-modern writer! ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’, ‘Vineland’, ‘The Crying of Lot 49’ – all mindbending works of fiction. With Pynchon a legendary recluse, only a show as smart as ‘The Simpsons’ could coax him away from his desk and into the spotlight. In typical oddball fashion Pynchon insisted on re-writing his lines after discovering they were none too kind to his favourite yellow d’oh-ball. ‘Sorry, guys. Homer is my role-model and I can’t speak ill of him.’ How sweet.
While we’re on the subject of reclusive writers: those rumours of a JD Salinger cameo in ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em’? Totally unfounded.
4. Donald Trump in ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’
It’s the battle of the barnets: Will Smith’s lofty flat-top versus Donald Trump’s toupée souflé. And in our book there’s only one winner (clue: it ain’t Trump). By all accounts it’s an exquisitely awkward cameo from the golf-course-grabbing gazillionaire. So awkward, in fact, it’s part of the 0.000001 percent of recorded television currently uncaptured by YouTube. Sorry folks. Here’s a heartwarming pic instead.
5. Brian Eno in ‘Father Ted’
Short but very, very sweet. In the farewell episode to the daft inhabitants of Craggy Island, Ted pays a visit to the annual ‘It’s Great Being a Priest’ conference, where he’s introduced to the former Roxy Music synth-wiz and all-round musical egghead who plays – yep, you guessed it – a priest. A priest named Father Brian Eno – a gag funnier than pretty much all BBC3 sitcoms put together (apart from ‘Pulling’, that was ace).
Reportedly a first draft exists where Eno attempts to explain Oblique Strategies to Dougal and Mrs Doyle over a cuppa. Ah go on, go on, ‘Honour thy error as hidden intention’, go on.
6. Mark E Smith in ‘Ideal’
The Fall frontman was worshipped as a God by the rock cognoscenti way before Johnny Vegas and co asked him to play Jesus for the day in this noughties drug-dealer sitcom. In a scene ripped straight from the New Testament, Smith’s magnificently grizzled, tab-smoking Jesus (Superking of the Jews!) instructs born-again-Christian Alan to kill Moz (Vegas). Heavenly.
By Mike Curle