Fictional municipalities are rarely clockwork operations. There wouldn’t be much of a story if local governments were run with lockstep efficiency, and the source of the dysfunction and bureaucratic mismanagement usually falls to the very top: The Mayor. Even with the best of intentions and the noblest of corruption, the administrations of fictional mayors tend to be unconventional at best and disastrous at worst. But no matter what, they’re always pretty funny.
To celebrate Kyle MacLachlan‘s ever chipper mayor returning to Portlandia this Thursday at 10P on IFC, check out 10 pop culture mayors that gave us multiple terms of hilarity. (Click here to find IFC on TV in your area.)
1. Mayor of Portland, Portlandia
Laid back (not counting the exercise ball) and diligent (not counting the “real roots reggae” band), Portland’s fictional mayor is the absolute ideal in “dream of the ’90s” leadership. Hands-on, idealistic, and ably assisted by real-life Portland mayor Sam Adams, he is the only candidate to keep the largest city in Oregon weird in a way that’s totally different from Austin. (Check out behind-the-scenes Portlandia photos and anecdotes from Kyle McLachlan’s Instagram takeover.)
2. Mayor “Diamond” Joe Quimby, The Simpsons
If you ever wondered how far a suitcase full of money could get you in politics, look no further than the man in charge of Springfield, USA. There’s nobody who isn’t in the mayor’s pocket (and vice versa) and no good-lookin’ broad who doesn’t have his hotel key. But incumbency is always a lock thanks to the low-information voter, i.e. every single Springfieldian, and what can’t be excused can be defended with something as simple as “I didn’t do it.”
3. Mayor Goldie Wilson, Back to the Future
It’s rare to actually witness first-hand the humble beginnings of an elected official. Tales of blue-collar origins and “common man” rhetoric come cheap, so it’s always refreshing to see a young, starry-eyed go-getter rise from sweeping the floors to cleaning up the town. And to think, it all stemmed from a casual comment from your average, everyday time traveler.
4. The Mayor of Jefferton, Tom Goes to the Mayor
Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim quickly established their acid-trip sensibilities with the Adult Swim series Tom Goes to the Mayor. Heidecker plays community-minded citizen Tom who attempts to corral Wareheim’s clinically insane mayor but typically winds up bruised and defeated in the process. Actual government work is entirely incidental.
5. Mayor Lenny, Ghostbusters movies
Trying to fill the big shoes left behind by Fiorello H. La Guardia — and occasionally chatting with his ghost — scrappy New York mayor and man of the people Lenny (his only identifier) is an open-minded leader who will listen to and healthily fund paranormal exterminators for the good of the island and its people. And any genitally-impaired suit from the EPA won’t stand in his way. (Click here to check future airings of Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II on IFC.)
6. Mayor Adam West, Family Guy
Speaking of clinically insane mayors, mellifluous actor Adam West plays a crackpot alternate version of himself as the mayor of Quahog, Rhode Island. His administration is teeming with conspiracy (he’s convinced someone is stealing his plant’s water), paranoia (he’s cemented coffins shut as a sure-fire prevention against zombies), and flat-out insanity (he’s entered into matrimony with his own hand).
7. Mayor Clarence Royce, The Wire
The lying, cheating, backstabbing snake of a mayor Clarence Royce is the grinning embodiment of institutional failure, so it’s always a delight to see the system bite him in the ass. And much to the credit to actor Glynn Turman, his fall from backroom puppet master to ousted primary candidate is filled with schadenfreude hilarity — especially when he tries to cover it with that mile-wide smile.
8. Mayor of Townsville, Powerpuff Girls
Consistently demolished due to wanton superhero destruction, the city of Townsville is in desperate need of strong, determined leadership. Unfortunately, they’ve elected a dimwitted, diminutive worrywart mayor whose panicky bewilderment puts the entire community at risk. If it weren’t for the cogent and level-headed assistance of Ms. Sara Bellum, the city would be in peril even more often than it is.
9. Mayor Richard Wilkins III, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
In a town filled with demons, goblins, and vampires, one can’t provide effective authority without some shape-shifting powers of his own. Such is the case with Sunnydale mayor Richard Wilkins III, a centuries-old sorcerer who is hell-bent (heh) on becoming an immortal purebred demon — all while maintaining the image of a conservative, family-values politician. Which is perhaps the most realistic version of a politician in this list.
10. Mayor McCheese, McDonaldland
Glorified figurehead Mayor McCheese governs McDonaldland practically by proxy. Citizens have long known — and visitors quickly come to find — that frantic clown Ronald McDonald is the sole public figure who brings the town together and makes it run smoothly (with the exception of the rampant hamburglary). Suffering through term after term of that loopy Ed Wynn-inspired voice, McDonaldland deserves a leader that isn’t half-morphed into a second-rate menu item.
Meet Austin’s mayor on this week’s brand-new Portlandia, Thursday at 10P on IFC.