Shalom Life | March 16, 2014

Jewish Top 10s: Simpsons Cameos

After 25 seasons, The Simpsons has remained as one of the most cultural, topical and popular shows on television, and naturally, has hosted celebrity cameos of a very high caliber; here's a look at some of our favourites

By: Zak Edwards

Published: March 14th, 2014 in Culture » TV » News

Welcome to Jewish Top 10s, where we compile lists that highlight the best and the brightest of everything yehudi, from delicious recipes to funniest actors, to most obnoxious Jewish wedding songs.

By now, The Simpsons has become one of the most important shows in existence, a comedic institution in its own right. The show has had its ups and downs, negotiated changing comedy trends, and been on the verge of cancellation more times than we would all like to admit. By now, it is a staple of any upbringing, whether you were allowed or forbade to watch it, and phrases like “D’oh!” and “Eat my shorts!” are part of our speech and even in the dictionary.


But while the Simpsons family is nearly and necessarily the quintessential WASP family, they are surrounded by a myriad of Jewish people and celebrities. For being such a small town in whatever state, Springfield sees plenty of celebrities. Here’s our favourite Jewish cameos and appearances in The Simpsons, our favourite people all done up in yellow.

10.


Thomas Pynchon

Episodes: “Diatribe of a Mad Housewife” and “All’s Fair in Oven War”

While Pynchon’s relationship to his own Jewish heritage is as dense and complex as any one of his novels, his cameo was absolute brilliance. The well known recluse writer took a page from J.D. Salinger and has kept completely off the public’s radio. Rumour has it that only one person actually knows where he lives, his agent, and that is so they can send him his cheques. His Simpsons cameos have played off his recluse status, with one seeing him standing in front of a well lit sign with a bag over his head. He spoke some lines for his other appearance, but they were recorded over the phone.

9.


Stephen Jay Gould

Episode: “Lisa the Skeptic”

One of the great things about cameos in The Simpsons is they are not limited to celebrities in popular culture; they branch out beyond the usual recognizable film, television, and musical stars. One in particular was Stephen Jay Gould, the paleontologist and evolutionary biologist. He appears in “Lisa the Skeptic,” where a skeleton convinces the town they are headed for the apocalypse. Gould loved the script and apparently opposed just one line, describing himself as the “world’s most brilliant paleontologist.” The show dedicated their 13th season finale to him just a couple of days after his death in 2002.

8.


The Cast of Cheers

Episode: “Fear of Flying”

Yes, we know the entire cast of Cheers is not Jewish, but a few of them are and their appearance is unforgettable. In “Fear of Flying,” Homer is on a quest for a new bar after being kicked out of Moe’s Tavern. He visits plenty of bars, including a lesbian bar, but also wanders into Cheers, where the cast is waiting for him. The sequence is absolutely amazing, start to finish, and uses cameos in the best way: surprisingly and irreverently.

7.


The Ramones

Episode: “Rosebud”

The Ramones showed up in Springfield to play for Mr. Burns’ birthday. They appear for only a minute to play “Happy Birthday” for a clueless Mr. Burns (he orders the Rolling Stones killed after the performance), but deliver some great jokes. Oh, and they have some excellent crowd interactions, including “Up yours, Springfield!” and “Go to hell, you old bastard!” The rest of the episode plays off Citizen Kane in the most brilliant ways, but it’s The Ramones making fun of Springfield that everyone remembers.

6.


Jon Lovitz

Episodes: Plenty!

Sure, Jon Lovitz isn’t so much a cameo as a guest star, playing all sorts of memorable characters, but his impact on the show is paramount. His best recurring role is as Artie Ziff, the man Marge almost married, which adds a great history to Homer and Marge’s relationship. Something The Simpsons used to always do was show that, as dysfunctional as their family is, the marriage is surprisingly strong, and having Jon Lovitz’ Ziff come in to show just how great Homer can be is always endearing. The story of Homer and Marge has changed throughout the years, the show isn’t exactly a stickler for continuity, but Ziff always comes into play. Homer isn’t the ideal guy, but his opposite is almost as awful, and we’re glad Marge made the right decision, time and time again.

Continue Reading on Page 2 for Top 5 Jewish Simpsons Cameos

 

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