McGinnis: ‘Sesame Street’s’ strangest cameosWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | email@example.com
By now, everybody’s heard about Katy Perry’s cleavage being too hot for “Sesame Street,” and Perry’s pseudo-witty response on “Saturday Night Live.” Perry, however, is just the latest in a long line of guests on the long-running PBS staple — some of whom fit in better than others.
The classic children’s show has welcomed many celebrity guests through the years. A virtual cavalcade of stars has found their way to Big Bird’s neighborhood. But for every performer whose appearance brings a smile to the faces of both adults and children, some leave viewers … well … puzzled. Here are a few of “Sesame Street’s” most head-scratching cameos:
Robert De Niro. Now, right away, you gotta admit there’s something that just feels wrong here. Sure, De Niro’s been making strides with family comedies and such during the past decade, but for most of us, it’s hard to imagine him doing anything but dropping F-bombs and beating someone to within an inch of their life.
So, we were already treading on odd ground when De Niro did a scene with Elmo, discussing being an actor. Then, he mentioned all the kinds of things he can pretend to be … like, say, “a New York City taxi driver, an out-of-shape boxer or a cabbage.” Hmm. What’s weirder: That Bob plugged “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull” on a kids’ show, or that he mentioned playing an inanimate vegetable in the same breath as a role he won an Oscar for?
Kofi Annan. It all started innocently enough. A bunch of the monsters on Sesame Street were bickering about who should get to sing the Alphabet song. This clearly has the makings of an international incident. Good thing the then-Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, was waiting right off camera.
Really, the skit was nice, and a lesson about cooperation was learned by all. It just makes you wonder what universe “Sesame Street” is set in, where prominent heads of state have time to settle minor disputes among puppets. Thank goodness Oscar the Grouch wasn’t involved, or a military strike may have been called in.
R2-D2 and C-3PO. An appearance by the iconic droids from “Star Wars” actually seems to fit right into the “Sesame Street” universe. Sure, technically they’re from “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away,” but if we can accept a 7-foot talking bird, the arrival of sentient robots from the distant past isn’t too far of a stretch.
No, things only start to get strange when R2 proclaims that he’s fallen in love, and then shows 3PO the object of his affection — a fire hydrant. It’s hard for anyone with even a slightly dirty mind to hear 3PO’s description of R2’s quasi-lover with a straight face: “Firemen come along, attach their hoses to it, and water comes out.” Also puzzling is 3PO’s final advice to a dejected R2: “It’s better to have loved a fire hydrant than never to have loved at all.”
Ralph Nader. Long before he regularly ran for president, Nader was seen on “Sesame Street” examining the wheels on a red wagon. He introduced himself to series regular
Bob as a “consumer advocate.” Didn’t know shoddy workmanship was actionable in the land of Muppets. Maybe Cookie Monster could sue a bakery for the addictions that have crippled his life?
Bob and Ralph conversed long enough to fire off some one-liners which went completely over the heads of their young audience, and probably most of their parents:
Bob: “Hey, you’re the guy with the great memory, right?”
Bob: “Yeah, I understand that you have … total recall!”
Ralph: “I wish I could recall that joke.”
Pfft. Everyone’s a critic.
Ice-T. Imagine you’re watching a segment with your kid extolling the virtues of rhyming. Children on the street naming words that rhyme. A cute cartoon involving animals with rhyming names. All exactly what you expect on “Sesame Street.” Then, suddenly, you hear the familiar “doinkdoink!” sound effect from “Law and Order,” and now, you’re watching one of the founders of the gangsta rap movement, Ice-T. Surely, you’d think you accidentally changed the channel, right?
Nope, the great T made a brief appearance on “Street” saying how much he loved words that rhyme with “rhyme,” like “time,” “chime,” “sublime” and “mime.” Wait. “Mime?” Really? How much street cred do you lose for talking about loving French street performers on a kids’ show?
E-mail Jeff at PopGoesJeff@gmail.com.