Watching Mick Jagger doing comedy on the recent Saturday Night Live finale was a rare treat. Well… it was rare. Musicians tend to avoid acting – especially scripted TV comedy. For comedy ain’t exactly in their wheel house (unless you’re Weird Al). Comedy is risky. And letting fans see you acting “goofy” can definitely hurt your cool musician rep.
Yet, every so often, a pop, rock or hip-hop star will let down his or her guard long enough to look silly on TV. Mostly, they play themselves. Results vary. Even at their worst, these TV cameos are rarely boring. Here’s a few of the more absurd:
‘WHAT’S HAPPENING?’ MEETS THE DOOBIE BROTHERS (1978): This one is cool not only because it features all 800 or so members of The Doobie Brothers performing – but doing dialogue as well. The plot finds Happening cast regulars Raj, Dee, Rerun and Dwayne being fooled into making a bootleg of a Doobie performance of “Taking It To The Streets” – only to get caught by the Doobs.
That’s right! An anti-bootlegging episode! Eventually, the band – who are uniformly awkward playing themselves – joins the gang at the soda shop to catch the real culprit. Uh, table for 14 please:
‘EXTRAS’ MEETS COLDPLAY (2006) – Chris Martin of Coldplay is pretty hilarious in a douchebag parody of himself (or is it a parody at all?) in this episode of Ricky Gervais’ hit show. Martin is seen doing a charity TV spot for starving children as a way to promote Coldplay’s latest hits album. He eventually forces his way onto Extras show-within-a-show (an obnoxious-looking BBC comedy called WhenThe Whistle Blows) playing himself again.
So let’s get this straight – Martin is parodying himself on a comedy show featuring a fake comedy show where Martin also plays himself? It is better if you just watch:
‘METHOD AND RED’ (2004) – You wouldn’t have expected two edgy, weed-shrouded rappers (one from the Wu-Tang Clan) to star in a Fox sitcom, but they did. And they shouldn’t have. While Method Man and Redman are okay in this low brow series, the show really plays it broad (if not downright offensive). The plot finds cool hip-hop buddies Method and Red moving to a gated white community where…uh…wait. This doesn’t involve the Neighborhood Watch, does it?
Naww. Instead, the show offers a standard-fish-out-of-water plot in which the black and white stereotypes (not to mention hip hop clichés) are front and center and fairly obnoxious. A laugh track doesn’t help. It lasted only a handful of episodes and was pretty much disavowed by the duo. It’s not hard to see why:
‘I DREAM OF JEANNIE’ MEETS PHIL SPECTOR (1967) – This episode – titled “Jeannie The Hip Hippie” – is cool for a host of reasons. First, Barbara Eden looks awesome in a series of late sixties outfits as she works as a music agent for Boyce and Hart (who are better known as the songwriters behind early Monkees hits).
Still, while B&H are nice to see (they also appeared on The Flying Nun and Bewitched!), it’s the unexpected appearance by eccentric producer Phil Spector – unconvincing as himself – that is the highlight. Currently serving time in prison for murder, Spector does some schtick with Jeannie and generally appears not crazy. “The tempo is awful. The lyric? Stinks. I think you got yourself another smash”. Here’s the man himself:
‘MARRIED… WITH CHILDREN’ MEETS THE SIXTIES (1992) – Here’s quite a treat for sixties rocker fans. Appearing as themselves are – big breath – John Sebastian (The Lovin’ Spoonful), Spencer Davis, Mark Lindsay (Paul Revere and The Raiders), Richie Havens, Peter Noone (Herman’s Hermits), and Robby Krieger (The Doors). The plot finds the Bundys pretending to be a rock band so they can get on a first-class flight (where they meet all the rockers). The show ends with the charity song parody “We Are The Old” featuring the memorable opening lyric “We are the old/We have arthritis/Our gums are weak (so weak)/With gingivitis”. Here’s the music video if you want to donate to the cause:
‘HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER’ MEETS BRITNEY (2008) – Britney Spears was trying to rehab her image when she appeared on this current sitcom. And one must applaud her for not playing herself – but a ditzy, naive receptionist with a crush on beleaguered Ted . Unfortunately, Ted rejects her (What? I’m starting to wonder about this Ted guy). Britney’s not great, but was apparently good enough to reprise the character the following season to torment Ted and sleep with Barney. She is cute though in a psycho sort of way:
‘THE KNIGHTS OF PROSPERITY’ MEET MICK (2007): Once titled “Let’s Rob Mick Jagger”, this short-lived series even lists Jagger as executive producer – though he only appeared in the pilot. The plot finds a cast of dimwitted New Yorkers attempting to rob celebrity homes – including Jagger, Kelly Ripa and Ray Romano. Jagger appears as himself – giving us a TV tour of his New York condo. A Stones tongue sculpture dispenses popcorn butter. Jagger then baths in a tub filled with yogurt, plays soccer with his man servant and even shows off his Hat Room where “I keep them at 62 degrees. 10 per cent humidity”. Funny but brief clip will leave you pining for much more Mick. It didn’t happen:
‘THE A-TEAM’ MEETS BOY GEORGE (1986): Okay, it’s not a comedy, but come on! George Peppard and Boy George! Together at last! Plus, it’s set in a western town – adding to the absurdity. Club owner Face done thought he’d booked “Cowboy George” for his country dance hall. But, dagnabbit, he got Boy George. Meanwhile, some ornery no-good pole cats are fixin’ to hold up a payroll truck. Fancy Boy George eventually wins over the plum angry dance hall folks by singing pretty-like as The A-Team blows the tar out of those payroll thievin’ rattle snakes. Don’t you love it when a plan done comes all together-like? Here’s lots of singing and shootin’: