“Marge, I would appreciate it if you didn’t tell anybody about my busy hands. Not so much for myself, but I am so respected it would damage the town to hear it.” – Artie Ziff
Today a website called “The Top 13” (they make – you guessed it – Top 13 lists) ranked the top thirteen guest voices on the Simpsons. The best part about it is that there is nary a trace of Zombie Simpsons. Indeed, this is from the intro:
But as the show has changed over time, in our view the quality of the guest appearances has fallen off – now you are more likely to see an ill-fitting celebrity cameo than one that helps drive a funny plot.
So we know that their hearts are in the right place, and the list itself is very well constructed. There are even video clips for each guest voice. However, I have a couple of problems with it. Let’s look at the top 3:
1. Phil Hartman
2. Kelsey Grammer
3. Joe Mantegna
This is minor, but I’d like to offer a brief definitional objection. The top three all made numerous and great contributions to the show but they’re not really guest voices, are they? With the exception of Albert Brooks (#4) nobody else on the entire list was in more than two episodes, but Hartman, Grammer and Mantegna were practically cast members. Grammer you could at least make a case for being a guest voice since he starred in all the episodes in which he appeared, but Hartman and Mantegna routinely showed up for little more than single lines. I love what they did, but if we’re counting them as “guest voices” don’t we also have to count Marcia Wallace, Doris Grau and several others who showed up routinely as the same characters?
The main problem I have with this list is the massive, inexplicable, glow-in-the-dark omission of Jon Lovitz. That’s right, there’s no Aristotle Amadopolis, no Sinclair siblings, no Professor Lombardo or Artie Ziff. Darryl Strawberry and Johnny Cash make the cut for being tiny parts (albeit awesome ones) of single episodes but a guy who helped carry multiple episodes doesn’t rate? For shame.
Where you want to put Lovitz on the list can be debated, but not having him, especially when you’ve got three more slots than is typical to fill, is just bizarre. If it’s an omission, just a slip of the mind, that’s understandable. But even if you really hated Jon Lovitz for some reason doesn’t his prevalence in the early years at least demand a mention? The name “Lovitz” doesn’t even appear anywhere on the page and it’s a gaping hole.
Finally, and this is more of a judgment call, but the complete lack of any XX chromosomes on here is a little glaring. Especially down near the bottom where you’ve got guys like Tito Puente and Barry White playing themselves. I love both of those appearances and both of those guys did fantastic jobs. However, when you mention in the opening that you’re not keen on celebrity cameos it seems a little hypocritical to list them while ignoring the fantastic work done by, say, Christina Ricci in “Summer of 4 ft. 2”, Winona Ryder in “Lisa’s Rival”, Sara Gilbert in “New Kid on the Block”, Michelle Pfeiffer for “The Last Temptation of Homer” . . . and I could go on. It’s also worth pointing out that all of those women had larger parts in their respective episodes than most of the voices near the bottom of the list. Just sayin’.
Update at 4:36 EST: In addition to the comment from Jason below we had a brief conversation on Twitter. It turns out they did think of Lovitz. Here’s the exchange (remember it’s Twitter so read up from the bottom):