Here’s what made Werner Herzog’s cameo in Parks And Recreation so hilarious. German filmmaker Werner Herzog has given the world some amazing movies like the cult epic Aguirre, The Wrath Of God, horror remake Nosferatu The Vampyre and documentary Grizzly Man. Herzog’s films might be critically acclaimed but he’s also seen as the mad German auteur of the filmmaking world thanks to some of his more outlandish stunts. There's the time he insisted on hauling a real 320-ton steamship up a mountain while filming Fitzcarraldo, for example, or that time he lost a bet and ate his own shoe - as documented in the appropriately titled Werner Herzog Eats His Own Shoe.
The enigma that is Werner Herzog is also seen as a tad gloomy, nihilistic and more than a little offbeat. Yet despite all his supposed seriousness, Herzog isn’t afraid to poke fun at himself. He’s appeared in several self-parodying cameo voice roles in shows like The Boondocks, American Dad and the animated film Penguins Of Madagascar which riffed on his 2007 Antarctica documentary Encounters At The End Of The World. In such cameos, he’s often tasked with saying some pretty ridiculous lines but it’s made all the more hilarious delivered in his signature deadpan style.
Herzog’s appearance in Parks And Recreation came in the first episode of its seventh and final season “2017”. He’s cast as Ken Jeggings – the ever so slightly crazy owner of a creepy house April and Andy are looking to buy that comes with such modern amenities as three bomb shelters, five dumbwaiters and a staircase to nowhere.
He informs the couple he’s had no offers on the house on account of it being haunted, disgusting and a former holding cell for people who went insane while working on the assembly line at the Pawnee Doll Head Factory. And the reason Ken Jeggings is selling the house? He wants to move to Orlando to be close to Disney World. It makes absolutely no sense and Ken Jeggings is totally in line with the usual kind of wacky residents that call Pawnee, Indiana home. But the special ingredient – Herzog’s straight face and deadpan delivery – is what makes his cameo so hilarious.
Parks And Recreation had some brilliant cameos and guest stars over its seven-season run like Henry Winkler as Dr. Saperstein and Patricia Clarkson and Megan Mullally as Ron Swanson’s terrible ex-wives Tammy I and Tammy II. But among all those cameos, Werner Herzog’s – however brief – stands out as one of the show’s best.