We all remember when Comedy Central’s
Stephen Colbert testified before Congress in 2010, right?
That was pretty bizarre, but it actually wasn’t the most bizarre celebrity testimony ever. It was actually quite predictable when you think about it. It is Colbert after all — he of various political stunts.
Celebrity testimonies are actually quite common. The usual suspects like
George Clooney (talking Darfur), Charlton Heston (gun rights), Michael J. Fox (stem cell research), and Alec Baldwin (arts funding) have all made their way to Capitol Hill in recent years. Who could forget Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich‘s vilified testimony over file sharing and music copyright laws?
But there are plenty of celebrity testimonies you may not have known about… and plenty of them are truly bizarre. We’ve made a list below.
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Dee Snider / Frank Zappa / John Denver
This one was actually quite serious.
In 1985, perpetual busybody Tipper Gore and her troupe of concerned adults hauled a bunch of musicians before the Senate to decry so-called "porn rock" and encourage the music industry to "voluntarily" (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) self-regulate themselves into parental advisory stickers.
Libertarian art-rocker Frank Zappa was characteristically feisty in his strong rebuttal to the nannying, while veteran folkie John Denver was much more polite.
But the reason this spectacle was bizarre? Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider, sans the pounds of face makeup, was reduced to defending his music against allegations of inspiring sadomasochism, rape, and bondage.
Sounds like a great use of tax dollars! Go, Congress?
Scroll through the 4+ hours worth of PMRC footage below, via C-SPAN:
Yep. Back in 2002,
Elmo, the fuzzy red puppet from our collective childhood, appeared before the House Education Appropriations Subcommittee to urge Congress to spend more money on musical instruments for school kids.
While practically defining the art of bizarre Congressional testimonies, Elmo spoke in characteristic third-person terms:
"Elmo knows that there is music in Elmo's friends all over the country, but some of them just don't know it yet. They don't know how to find their music. So that's why Elmo needs Congress to help."
Yes, it was an embarrassing moment for Congress, but hey -- it is highly likely that only a child's puppet could speak in terms legislators can understand.
Do we really need to explain why Simmons testifying about childhood obesity in 2008 would be bizarre?
Okay, fine, we'll lay it out in simple terms: Richard Simmons. The king of bizarre television. In a suit. At Congress. Testifying.
Watch a clip of Simmons' testimony below, via C-SPAN:
No, she wasn't testifying in defense of
Rick Santorum's "Hands" speech at the 2012 RNC.
Songwriter and '90s relic Jewel made her way to Congress in 2007 to testify about youth homelessness.
The Grammy-nominated singer actually knows a thing or two about this. Before achieving her fame, she was impoverished and living in her van as she traveled around the country to do small gigs and street performances.
Despite her relevance to the topic, it's still kinda bizarre to see Jewel on Capitol Hill.
Watch her prepared remarks below, via C-SPAN:
Why did legendary baseball manager
Tommy Lasorda testify before Congress in 1998?
Everyone's guess would be that it had to do with steroid use in baseball, right? But no... this was before that whole thing exploded.
So why was Lasorda on Capitol Hill? To testify in favor of the amendment to ban the burning of the American flag. Of course!
In a truly fiery speech, Lasorda pounded his fists and waved his hands as he beseeched Congress to "protect the flag" from "acts of violence" by banning its burning.
“Baseball, like the American flag and national anthem," Lasorda explained, "ties everyone in this great country of ours together."
Watch his testimony below, via C-SPAN:
Woody Allen testified before Congress?
Yep. He did. In 1987, the filmmaker sat down before a Senate committee to testify about the colorization of black-and-white films and TV shows.
Watch Allen and Sen. Patrick Leahy have a back-and-forth over whetha the mawket will eventually sawlve disputes ovah colorizing othah people's movies:
Master P / David Banner
Much like the absurdity that was the 1985 PMRC hearings (see slide #1), in 2007 Congress got all uppity about hip-hop and its "exploitation of violence and sexism for profit."
And so rappers Master P and David Banner sat down before a House committee to defend their industry from a bunch of old white dudes who clearly had nothing better to do with their time and tax dollars.
Master P gave a long-winded, at times nonsensical speech renouncing hip-hop's sins and promising to clean up the industry.
On the other hand, in the spirit of Frank Zappa's '85 speech, Banner gave a riveting testimony that admitted the industry's flaws but eloquently told the politicians to buzz off.
Watch a portion of the hearing below, via C-SPAN:
Sitting beside legendary astronauts
Buzz Aldrin and Walter Cunningham, actor/director Ron Howard testified before the House in 1997 about the need for continuing the U.S. space exploration program.
His expertise? " Apollo 13 director."
Thankfully, Howard himself recognized the bizarreness of having a film director testify about the need for space exploration, seeing as how, you know, he's just a film director who happens to like space stuff. He began his speech continually emphasizing that he is not an expert.
Watch his testimony below, via C-SPAN:
Nope, the deep-bass vocalist did not testify before Congress over anything related to chocolate salty balls,
South Park, or Shaft.
The late soul singer appeared in 1997 to testify about religious persecution... in Europe.
Hayes was a well-known member of the Church of Scientology. And his testimony was largely about Germany's treatment of his fellow scientologists. Actor John Travolta also made an appearance.
Watch Hayes' testimony here.
So you're flipping channels back in 2009, listening to that newfangled
Justin Bieber, and then all the sudden as you come across C-SPAN you see... Nick Jonas?!
The youngest of the three Jonas Brothers testified about juvenile diabetes... something he actually suffers from.
Nevertheless, seeing Nick Jonas testify before Congress (especially without context) is probably like seeing Miley Cyrus or Demi Lovato testifying. Just no.
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