Let’s count down 15 of the best walk-ons:
15. REM’s monster mash. In just over three minutes, Michael Stipe and friends take us on an emotional roller-coaster with Furry, Happy Monsters, a cover of their own Shiny, Happy People, televised in 2000. Watch the monsters mosh happily, cry sappily, and then bring it all back with a booming grand finale.
14. James Taylor’s Jelly Man Kelly. In this classic clip from 1979, folksy James Taylor sings a campfire tune with the help of some enthusiastic kids and a big guy on a big tuba. He turned out to be a Sesame Street regular, also dueting with Oscar in That Grouchy Face (a spoof of That Smiling Face), and singing Up On The Roof, up on a roof.
13. Feist teaches counting basics. Singer-songwriter Feist does a walk-on in August, 2008 teaching kids to count to four. “1-2-3-4, monsters walking ‘cross the floor. I love coun-ting, counting to the number four.”
12. Overruling Law & Order. File this one away in the dusty trivia bin in your brain: Sesame Street and Law and Order actually share a studio in Queens, New York. Yeah, seriously. As a result, many actors in each show have done cameos in the other. Sesame Street upped the ante in 2006 when it debuted the Special Letter Unit spoof. Watch it and you’ll be saying “chung chung” forever.
11. R2-D2 and C-3PO on love. Our favorite intergalactic comedy duo does a touching segment on The Street in 1980. After chasing stormtroopers across the galaxy, it seems R2 is looking for love in all the wrong places. Good thing 3po is there to offer some sage advice.
10. Larry King phones one in. In an Abbott and Costello-esque routine from 2004, Larry King hosts the Letter W and takes callers from Wabasha, Wichita, and Wala Wala. Worth it for the crooked glasses and messy hair at the end.
9. Norah Jones missing her Y. Norah Jones sings a sad cover of Don’t Know Why in 2004, where she talks about how her Letter of the Day pal ‘Y’ failed to show up when he said he would. Seems she’s taking it pretty personally, too. “We used spelled great words together. Now I can’t spell ‘anything.‘”
8. Neil Patrick Harris as The Shoe Fairy. In this acid-inspired showtune sing-a-long from August, 2008, Doogie Howser floats and flies around Sesame Street snapping and popping pairs of possessed shoes onto everybody’s feet. Keep an eye out for the Doctor or you may find yourself bowling melons or mopping sidewalks with your feet. If you want to skip the plot buildup, scroll a few minutes into this clip for the jazzy number.
7. Robert De Niro on how to be an actor. Bob pokes fun at himself and pretends to be a dog and a cabbage while teaching Elmo about acting. Features the classic De Niro line “Hey, look at me, I’m a cabbage. Good source of riboflavin.”
6. Tony Bennett crooning with Big Bird. In 1998, Tony sings about Slimey the Worm’s heart-wrenching voyage to the moon in a Fly Me To The Moon cover. And hey, if you like this one, be sure to check out his 1995 walk-on song about how big the little things in life can be. Tony, we’re right there with you, buddy.
5. Robin Williams goes nuts. In a classic Robin Williams moment in 2000, he plays almost fifteen characters in just over a minute to teach Elmo about what he can do with a stick. It’s a short, captivating bit showing the magic of imagination. Just try to focus on that, not his shirt.
4. Stevie Wonder jamming in the Street. An old 1973 street party clip featuring Stevie Wonder and his band jamming Superstition with a pile of kids dancing on the fire escape. A spinning six minutes from over thirty-five years ago.
3. James Blunt crying about geometry. In a great parody of his popular tune You’re beautiful, James tears up as he wistfully mourns his long lost triangular love. Watch as his mournful memories cut to smoky scenes from the discotheque and when Telly Monster chimes in with a great line about the hypotenuse. Math jokes at their finest, people.
2. Johnny Cash and Birdy Big. The Man in Black put in a few classic Sesame Street guest appearances over the years, but perhaps none finer than this dusty, warbly 1992 cover of Don’t Take Your Guns To Town featuring Big Bird as the lonely cowboy.
1. Andrea Bocelli sings Elmo to sleep. Your heart might melt a bit over this soaring 2005 lullaby as long as you aren’t creeped out by the grizzled, crooning tenor hanging out at Elmo’s bedside. A classic scene about enjoying tomorrow.
Hard as it may be to believe, Sesame Street is now ramping up to nearly forty seasons on the boob tube. Yes, Big Bird has proven Mr. Snuffleupagus exists, Oscar’s mellowed out a little, and even though the Cookie Monster still loves cookies, he now considers them a Sometimes Food.
For kids and parents alike, there’s something special about seeing celebrities cool it down a notch, ham it up a notch, and just let themselves hang out there on daytime television. Because maybe these celebrity appearances just remind us all of sunny days, sweeping the, clouds away. They take us away, to where that air is sweet.
And they help us all forget, forget life without Sesame Street.
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Photo from: here