South Park hasn’t necessarily been a hotspot of celebrity voice-overs since it first went on the air in 1997. Sure, creators (and main voice actors) Trey Parker and Matt Stone have impersonated—with varying success—a number of famous people. Who can forget Parker’s crazed Mel Gibson or eccentric Michael Jackson voices?
But, especially in its early years, South Park certainly had its share of cool, quirky celebrity guest shots. And in honor of our recent interview with Korn bassist Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu—who acted with his band in the 1999 episode “Korn’s Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery”—we’ve put together a list of 10 of the best celebrity appearances on the show.
Now, keep in mind, we’re talking the real celebrities here—people who actually provided their voices—so don’t yell at us that we missed the goat everyone mistook for Stevie Nicks in the 2001 classic episode “Osama bin Laden Has Farty Pants.”
OK, here goes:
10. Brent Musberger in “City on the Edge of Forever” (Season Two, 1998)
The legendary sports announcer made a weird appearance as a weird character in this weird episode, playing the leg of Scuzzlebutt, the local monster. Yes, the leg. This was a flashback episode in which the boys recall events from earlier episodes, but their memories are somehow … different (SPOILER: It was all a dream). Clearly not the highlight of Musberger’s distinguished sportscasting career, but that was really his voice, and his inclusion was delightfully random.
9. Jay Leno in “Cartman’s Mom is a Dirty Slut” (Season One, 1998)
This big cliffhanger, which closed out the show’s first season with the question “Who is Cartman’s father?”, inexplicably featured the voice of Jay Leno, playing Cartman’s pest of a cat, Mr. Kitty. This wasn’t the first time a celebrity provided the non-verbal voice of a small animal …
8. George Clooney in “Big Gay Al’s Big Gay Boat Ride” (Season One, 1997)
The fourth episode of the series featured the famous actor who reportedly helped Parker and Stone land a TV deal: George Clooney. And in typical South Park fashion, he didn’t say a word—just barked. Clooney’s portrayal of Sparky (Stan’s gay dog—long story) was arguably better than his work in Batman & Robin.
On second thought, it was definitely better than his work in Batman & Robin.
7. Radiohead in “Scott Tenorman Must Die” (Season Five, 2001)
Besides showing Cartman at his absolutely cruelest, this extremely dark episode featured the band Radiohead, who unknowingly play a part in Cartman’s evil plan. The story revolves around Cartman’s scheme of revenge against Scott Tenorman, who conned Cartman out of $10. First, Cartman dubs his voice on a Radiohead interview video, making it seem like the band (Scott’s favorite) hates Scott. Then, after a series of increasingly harsh pranks, Radiohead actually comes to South Park and make fun of Scott for crying—the ultimate insult.
The moral of the story: Don’t f— with Cartman (or you’ll be humiliated by the members of Radiohead).
6. Malcom McDowell in “Pip” (Season Four, 2000)
This parody of PBS mainstay Masterpiece Theatre featured distinguished British thespian McDowell (probably best known for his legendary work in A Clockwork Orange) narrating a riff on Dickens’ Great Expectations spotlighting Pip, the lone English character on the show who was promptly written out soon after. But it was great use of an impressive guest star (who actually appeared onscreen in a rare live-action sequence), me droogies!
5. Cheech and Chong in “Cherokee Hair Tampons” (Season Four, 2000)
This episode, in which the classic 1970s stoner comedy team played Native American New Age hucksters, marked a sorta-reunion of the duo at the time—even though they didn’t record their lines together! Still, it’s a pretty crazy one, man, and Cheech, as Carlos Ramirez, and Chony, as Chief Running Pinto, were hysterical in it.
4. Robert Smith of The Cure in “Mecha-Streisand” (Season One, 1998)
Who better to fight a rampaging, Godzilla-sized Barbara Streisand than the lead singer of The Cure? Smith was awesome in this big part, especially when he transforms into a psychedelic giant butterfly thing for the climactic battle.
3. Jennifer Aniston in “Rainforest Shmainforest” (Season Three, 1999)
This ranks high on the list, because not only did Aniston play a major part in this show, but she was hilarious in it! The story finds the boys in the rainforests of South America as part of a singing troupe called Getting Gay with Kids. Aniston plays the group leader who, along the way, is brutalized by all manner of giant insects and the dangers of the rainforests. By the end, she says “F— the rainforest!”
2. Korn in “Korn’s Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery” (Season Three, 1999)
In our recent interview with Korn bassist Fieldy, we discussed the nu-metal band’s appearance on the show, in which they were embroiled in a Scooby-Doo-like groovy mystery involving pirate ghosts and “those meddling kids.” This was another case in which the guest stars were integral to the show’s plotline, and the members of Korn showed great humor with their voice acting on this one. It was also memorable for when the band united to take on the “powers of Korn”, revealing superpowers all related to … corn (one member transformed into a box of popcorn). We also met Korn’s goofy avian sidekick, Niblet! Now considered a Halloween classic, this episode is vintage South Park: silly and brilliant.
1. EVERYBODY in “Chef Aid” (Season Two, 1998)
Our top slot has to go to this episode, which featured more guest stars than have ever been in a South Park episode before or since. The plot was simple: When Chef (voice of Issac Hayes) loses a copyright lawsuit (prosecuted by Johnny Cochran with the classic “Chewbacca defense”), he calls on his musician friends to stage a benefit concert to pay off his debt. The musicians who appeared in the concert (and played themselves on the soundtrack) included Clash legend Joe Strummer, Rancid, Ozzy Osbourne, Ween, Primus, Elton John, Meat Loaf, Rick James, DMX and Devo. This episode had a lot to do with the fact that South Park had entered into a record deal, and all of the music from this show became the basis of the first CD under the deal. Still, this show offered back-to-back musical giants, plus special moments like when Ozzy mistook Kenny for a bat, and bit his
So those are our picks. Anything we left out, or appearances you like better? Sound off in the comments!