The Nine Best Sesame Street Guest Appearances The Nine Best Sesame Street Guest Appearances
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Last week's controversy about Katy Perry's Sesame Street guest appearance reminded us that the show has a long history of working with celebrities. And while cleavage isn't exactly what they're looking for, Sesame Street's producers have always embraced clever adult humor. We dug through the archives to find some of the smartest, funniest, and strangest celebrity appearances in Sesame Street history, from Richard Pryor to Ricky Gervais.
In this segment, Johnny Cash drops by Oscar the Grouch's trash can to sing him a song about a guy named "Nasty Dan" and his unpleasant family. Two famously saturnine characters, one a music legend and the other a monster, tackle the darker sides of human nature in a way kids can understand.
You may not even need Muppets when Little Richard is on the set. In this segment, he sings the Rubber Duckie Song, fully clothed, in a bubble bath, without the slightest hint of irony. It makes for one hell of a show, and Hoots the owl is totally upstaged. Kudos to Sesame Street for introducing kids to the self-proclaimed "architect of rock and roll," even if he seems a little crazy.
If you grew up in the 1980s, chances are good you have Lily Tomlin's Edith Ann character forever seared in your memory. There was something powerfully compelling about this woman-child and her desultory tale about a sandwich. We don't know what this taught kids, exactly, but it was a story about making a mess that a five-year-old could relate to. (As an adult, watching this is more like sitting in on a regression therapy session.)
Richard Pryor was invited onto Sesame Street a few times, and was allowed, it seems, to go off book. In this spot, he provides a sort of improvised narrative structure to the alphabet. Sesame Street isn't afraid to pick celebrity guests who are a little edgy in their other work, and sometimes it bleeds over.
Ricky Gervais and Elmo have incredible chemistry on screen. It's as if they spent years together at Second City before they each became famous, and, as an adult, it's really fun to watch. We assume the kids enjoy this too. Even if Ricky's sensitivity about his celebrity status is over their heads, they can understand it's hard to sleep when he's shouting at you.
This outtake of Ricky Gervais and Elmo being interviewed together isn't technically a Sesame Street appearance, but it's amazing to watch them riffing this way. It's proof positive that there's a special chemistry between Elmo and Gervais—and that the people behind the show's puppets are quick wits.
Paul Simon's performance of "Me and Julio" on the classic Sesame Street stoop is a gem from an earlier era of media. The sheer innocence of this clip—in the production values; the lack of scripting; the awesome, spontaneous singing and dancing—is a big part of what makes Sesame Street so great in general.
Because Adam Sandler's comedic songs are generally pretty ridiculous, he happens to fit right in as a musical guest on Sesame Street without changing his routine all that much. This song about Elmo isn't dirty, of course, but it's probably just as funny as most of Sandler's other work, and viewers of all ages can appreciate the silliness.
Patrick's Stewart's "Soliloquy on B" makes the list both for its impassioned performance and because it exemplifies one of Sesame Street's best characteristics: the ability to be clever for adults and compelling and educational for kids all at once. See also: Patrick Stewart's "Make It So, Number One!"
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