History of the World, Part II, Hulu’s series continuation of the Mel Brooks classic film, is epic on a lot of levels — especially when it comes to its guest stars. By Consequence‘s tally, there are at least 92 credited guest stars on the series, including big established comedy names like Seth Rogen, Taika Waititi, and Margaret Cho, as well as more unexpected performers like Blake Griffin, David Duchovny, and Marla Gibbs.
All of these people get their moments to shine, but some of them happen to shine a little bit brighter than the others. For the purposes of this ranking, we declared executive producers Nick Kroll, Ike Barinholtz, and Wanda Sykes off the table (as they play multiple characters across multiple sketches; it just didn’t seem fair), and instead focused on the performers who brought their all to their respective scenes. One thing all of these people have in common: No matter what, they stayed committed to the bit.
— Liz Shannon Miller
Senior Entertainment Editor
[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for History of the World, Part II.]
15. Fred Armisen as Pyramid Scheme Recruiter
It’s extremely fitting to see Fred Armisen lead a sketch as absurd as “What if the pyramids were built by people participating in a pyramid scheme?” In fact, it’s got a similar tone to the type of satirical sketches found in Armisen’s Portlandia. But his presence in History of the World, Part II is a treat — even if he’s performing entirely on his knees. — Paolo Ragusa
14. Josh Gad as William Shakespeare
Envisioning William Shakespeare as an egotistical showrunner is already a funny concept, but Josh Gad elevates the character to a whole new level. Never a stranger to the theatrical and over-the-top, Gad is a complete loose cannon in the sketch, and it’s probably because he hasn’t had his lunch yet. Many may debate the actual origins of Shakespeare’s plays, but Gad makes it easy to imagine The Bard as one of the first in a long line of narcissistic creators. — P.R.
13. Dove Cameron as Anastasia Romanov
A Disney Channel alum in the process of transitioning to adult roles, Cameron brings pitch-perfect influencer energy to the show’s take on the legendary Russian princess as a social media star, and even gets a lovely little romance with Schmuck (Kroll)’s son Joshy (Charles Melton). Like all the best comedy performances, what matters most here is Cameron’s commitment, hitting just the right tone as she tells her fans to remember to use her promo codes while she flees for her life. — L.S.M.
12. Johnny Knoxville as Rasputin
As Kroll tells it, Johnny Knoxville got the role of Rasputin after reaching out immediately after the show was announced, asking to play whatever role the writers wanted. His casting here is of course a direct homage to the Jackass oeuvre — the logic of course being that Rasputin was famously invulnerable, much like we’ve all assumed of Knoxville over the years. Knoxville is not actually invulnerable, but he still commits fully to the bit, complete with accent and wig. — L.S.M.
11. Ronny Chieng as Genghis Khan
The Daily Show correspondent and M3GAN star has a very specific comedy energy, but it works great when paired opposite Jake Johnson’s Marco Polo (also a stellar performance — Johnson might have been the #16 slot on this list) or when anchoring a commercial for Khancestry.com. Chieng might not be the most believable warlord we’ve ever seen on screen, but we’re aiming for comedy, not accuracy, with this series.