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.
10. Richard Kind as Saint Peter
Richard Kind and his unforgettable eyebrows appears in a few episodes of History of the World, Part II as Saint Peter, and he gels perfectly with fellow apostles Nick Kroll, Ike Barinholtz, and J.B. Smoove. Perhaps his most shining moment arrives toward the end of “The Last Supper Sessions,” where he requests with true exasperation that the group drops their Liverpudlian accents. As the oldest member of the bunch, he brings ample irreverence, while nailing each of his quippy one-liners. — P.R.
09. Hannah Einbinder as Amelia Earhart
Turns out Amelia Earhart was not merely the first female aviator fly solo across the Atlantic — she was actually creating a safe space for women to “disappear” to and live out their wildest fantasies… together. Alongside Wanda Sykes, the Hacks star brings a delightful, knowing wink to the sketch, with an enjoyable Trans-Atlantic accent and an energy that just screams “Gay Rights!” It feels like Einbinder is frequently a moment away from completely breaking character and bursting into laughter, which is always a funny sight to behold. — P.R.
08. Everyone In the “Hummus” Sketch
“The Oslo Peace Accords” opens Episode 7 by sparking the debate of who truly invented Hummus — Israel, Palestine, Greece, or Turkey — and each representative is hilarious and memorable. D’arcy Carden’s Turkey spars with Jason Mantzoukas’ Greece, with Carden concluding that “the only thing that Greece invented is being a shitty little asshole!” Meanwhile, Andy Daly represents Norway with his usual cheery attitude, and Michaela Watkins’ reaction shots as Israel’s representative are gold. — P.R.
07. Jack Black as Joseph Stalin
Watching Jack Black belt his way through his appearances in the Russian Revolution sketches was to remember that it’s been way too long since the School of Rock star had a major leading role in something: In fact, beyond voice work his last major screen appearance was in 2019’s Jumanji: The Next Level. Point is, he remains such a talent, especially when the opportunity arises for him to blend music and comedy together. We don’t want to root for Stalin… But Black makes the idea very appealing. — L.S.M.
06. Pamela Adlon as Fanny Mudman
A gifted screen comedian as well as voice actress, the star/creator of FX’s Better Things gets to help the Russian Revolution, sing a few original numbers, and go toe-to-toe with Kroll, full Yiddish blazing. Pamela Adlon gets a lot of screen time, and is delightful for all of it. — L.S.M.
05. Danny DeVito as Czar Nicholas II
Look, Danny DeVito is going to be ridiculous in anything you put him in. So, it’s a delightful boost to the “Russian Revolution” storyline when he’s introduced. He may only appear in a single scene before his off-screen assassination, but his presence is undeniable — even opposite some terrific newcomers like Lisa Gilroy. Essentially, we deserved at least a little bit more of DeVito, but alas — the revolution had to begin. — P.R.
04. Zahn McClarnon as Private Mingoes
A Native actor who’s been working for decades but only recently gotten stand-out roles in projects like Westworld and Reservation Dogs, McClarnon really stands out as one of three Union soldiers sent on a mission to find Barinholtz’s Ulysses S. Grant. Abbott Elementary star Tyler James Williams is also solid in this storyline, but while many of those appearing on this list are leaning hard into their established personas, McClarnon creates a whole new goof of a character, one with aspirations of stardom and a killer catch-phrase: “You might be a colonizer…” — L.S.M.
03. Zazie Beetz as Mary Magdalene
Like the others cast in the Jesus storyline, the Atlanta star gets to play Mary Magdalene across all three different parodies, mainly getting the spotlight in “The Notebook of Mary.” But it’s when things shift to “The Last Supper Sessions” that Zazie Beetz really gets to shine, going full Yoko Ono for her contributions to the Get Back parody, right down to yowling into the mic. — L.S.M.
02. J.B. Smoove as Saint Luke
In a recent conversation with Consequence, Kroll revealed that while the History of the World team decided not to reach out to Curb Your Enthusiasm star Larry David about participating in the “Curb Your Judaism” sketches, “We truly don’t think we could have done it without J.B. Smoove. If JB had said no, I don’t think we could have done it.” It’s easy to see why Kroll said this, watching the sketches — Smoove’s energy is so naturally hilarious that even when translated to the time of Jesus, it still works, and he handles the transition to the Get Back parody really well, especially when the question of what accent people are supposed to be doing comes up. — L.S.M.
01. Ana Fabrega as Sacrificial Virgin
A true highlight of History of the World, Part II arrives at the start of Episode 4, where Ana Fabrega — of Los Espookys fame as well as a writer on the show — plays a young virgin being sacrificed in Mesoamerica. Only she claims she is indeed “not a virgin,” with her declaring “I’m one of the most disgusting people you’ll ever meet. I pork. I smash. I crush. I slurp. I pancake. I waffle. I brunch.”
She then tries to convince the sacrificers that they’re wrong, before an unexpected solar eclipse interrupts her: “The Gods know! The Gods know I fuck!” she concludes. Not only is the sketch itself a stellar opener, Fabrega is completely magnetic from the moment we see her on screen. With only about 90 seconds of sketch to work off of, she packs every moment she can with comedic poise. What more could you want? — P.R.