Nickelodeon’s beautifully absurd and life-affirming show, The Adventures of Pete & Pete, boasted a regular cast of captivating characters. There was the older, introspective Pete Wrigley [Michael C. Maronna], the sassy young Pete [Danny Tamberelli], the somewhat manic Artie, the strongest man in the world [Toby Huss], the wonderfully sweet Ellen [Alison Fanelli], and the most romantic bus driver of all time, Stu Benedict [Damian Young].
The show’s creators, Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi, also put together an impressive cast of cameos who acted as characters in the eccentric world of Wellsville (state mysteriously never mentioned). Here are the famous faces you may have not recognized at the time.
In the role of Ms. Brackett, Janeane Garofalo plays a smug teacher in the teacher’s lounge who is reading My Life as Poem and cackles after saying “Let the substituting begin!”
In the last episode of Pete & Pete, Big Pete needs a haircut from Barber Dan, as played by J.K. Simmons, whom he describes as “the guy who has been cutting my hair for years and still doesn’t say a word to me. He just cuts and cuts and cuts.” But when he learns that Dan is a nut about quality footwear, Pete brings up the subject, and Dan opens up to an insane degree. Dan laughs like a fool, and they begin chugging the comb sanitation liquid together like old pals.
LL Cool J
LL Cool J plays the hip teacher Mr. Throneberry in the episode where Little Pete avoids going to school by saying he has food poisoning. Mr. Throneberry, and the rest of the teachers, rejoice over the news that he will not be at school and celebrate as though they are on a Hawaiian vacation.
Steve Buscemi played a reoccurring role as Ellen’s father, as well as the school principal. In one episode he goes to prank war with the Pete’s dad Don Wrigley, resulting in the creation of a mini Steve Buscemi doll.
Iggy Pop acts as Nona’s [Michelle Trachtenberg] overprotective father. In a touching episode, he serenades her at the school dance.
Musician Syd Straw is the reoccurring math teacher Miss Fingerwood, a woman who lives for math. Her cat’s name is Square Root of Seven, she bakes Pi pies accurate to 121 decimal places. The first time she saw the number two, she thought it was her mother.
When Little Pete joins his father for a bowling outing with his league, he brings along Artie, to his father’s dismay. Vincent Pastore, however, plays the bowling agent impressed with Artie’s game.
“Why be a bus driver when you could be a bear?” is an important question that Big Pete must answer at his school’s career fair. This leads him to becoming an assistant to bus driver Stu. While shadowing this career, he falls for the gorgeous girl who sits at the back of the bus, Selma Blair.
R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe sells Big Pete a sludgsicle at the beach right before their family digs up a 1978 Cutlass Supreme.
Little Pete sticks a Dwight D. Eisenhower shaped cereal up his nose. Shortly after this Meterman Ray, played by Chris Elliott, comes by for an inspection. He has this amazing ability to see the future when he looks at household temperature meters and asks little Pete, “Do you have a bomb shelter?”
Pete and Pete approach their neighbor, Debbie Harry, trying to sell her landmines. She says she’ll have to ask her husband, to which they inquire “Is he home?” “No, I’m not married.” She says. “But as soon as I do meet that certain special someone I’ll be sure to ask him.”
James Rebhorn is John McFlemp, head of the International Adult Conspiracy. His plan is to rid the town of Artie, the Strongest Man in the World. The kids of Wellsville are clearly in psychological torment at the thought of a world without Artie.
Gordon Gano, of the Violent Femmes, is Mr. Zank, who poses complicated math questions about detergent to his class.
David Johansen, of the New York Dolls, is a forest ranger who gets very upset with how fast Don Wrigley is driving through the national forest. “I’m going to be looking out for you,” he warns, “and so will all the plants and rocks and birds and bugs and things.