The only thing better than a great joke in a comedy movie is a great joke in an otherwise completely serious movie. In some ways, a little levity in a drama is way more satisfying because it’s so unexpected. When we’re watching a comedy, we expect to laugh — in fact, we often get annoyed when the gags don’t come fast and furious. But a joke in a heavy drama, especially one with a lot of tension or nail-biting moments, is like somebody saying something unexpectedly humorous at a funeral. It gives everybody a pause from the stress, a brief respite from all the exhausting emotions.
Here are 30 of our favorite funny scenes, jokes or one-liners from otherwise dramatic (or at least mostly serious) films. For more zingers from your favorite Hollywood stars, check out The 30 Funniest Sitcom Jokes of All Time.
Leave the gun, take the cannoli; The Godfather
The Godfather, one of the best gangster movies ever made, isn’t supposed to be a funny movie. But it does have at least one laugh line, and it’s a doozy.
Mafia henchmen Clemenza drives out to the countryside with a pair of gangsters, with orders to kill one of them. After the murder, he instructs his assassin Rocco to “Leave the gun – take the cannoli.” A cannoli is an Italian pastry, which Clemenza had almost forgotten was in his back seat. It works because it’s such a ridiculous thing to say after a mafia hit. According to Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola, that line wasn’t even in the script. It was entirely improvised! And for more on the cannoli, here are the The 30 Funniest Movie Lines of All Time.
Indiana Jones brings a gun to a sword fight; Raiders of the Lost Ark
Our favorite moment in Raiders of the Lost Ark is also its funniest. Adventure-loving archaeologist Indiana Jones (played, of course, by Harrison Ford) is confronted in the streets of Cairo by a master swordsman. Jones watches the swordsman show off his skills, and then pulls out his gun and casually shoots him.
The epic scene only exists because Ford was suffering from dysentery during the shoot, and didn’t want to be outside for longer than necessary. “The poor guy was a wonderful British stuntman who had practiced his sword skills for months in order to do this job,” Ford said in an interview, “and was quite surprised by the idea that we would dispatch him in five minutes.” To check out our favorite action hero bringing his life-saving chops off screen, See Harrison Ford Rescue Woman From Car Crash.
Disco dancing; Ex Machina
Nothing breaks up the tension in a sci-fi thriller like a sudden and unexpected disco dance party. Somewhere in the middle of the 2015 indie hit about sexy cyborgs, Ex-Machina, tech mastermind Nathan (played by Oscar Isaac) breaks into a synchronized dance routine with his sexy robot maid (played by Sonoya Mizuno). Why? It’s unclear. But as Nathan announces, “I’m going to tear up the (expletive) dance floor, dude, check it out.” And for more great laughs, check out these 20 Celebrities Who Look Like Their Pets.
E.T. gets overserved; E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial
It’s been years since we’ve seen the 1982 Steven Spielberg film E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, but there’s on scene we’ll never forget: When the little alien dude finds a refrigerator full of beer and ends up getting soused. A thoroughly inebriated E.T. falling flat on his face in the kitchen may be the best slapstick Spielberg has ever done. And for more funny facts, here are the 20 Things Everyone Secretly Finds Hilarious.
Robin Williams makes the camera guy shake; Good Will Hunting
Gus Van Sant’s Good Will Hunting was a highly emotional movie from 1997 about a Boston street kid (played by Matt Damon) who’s secretly a genius. It’s not the kind of flick you put on when you’re in the mood to laugh, but it does have one hilarious moment. It comes from the psychologist, played by Robin Williams, who tells a story about his late wife’s involuntary nighttime flatulence. The lines were improvised, and even the cameraman wasn’t expecting them. Watch around the 1:00 mark and see how the screen starts to shake. Yep, that’s because the guy holding the camera is laughing so hard. To see more lovable characters, check out the 30 Funniest Movie Characters of All Time.
Daniel Day-Lewis is going to drink your milkshake; There Will Be Blood
Daniel Day-Lewis is the only actor to ever win an Academy Award for pretending to steal a milkshake with a gigantic, invisible straw. Okay, so he probably deserved it for more than that scene, but it’s still the one that everybody remembers from 2007’s There Will Be Blood. The merciless oil tycoon (played by Lewis) explains to a preacher, with an elaborate and silly milkshake metaphor, why he’ll always win in the end. “I… drink… your… milkshake!” he bellows. “I drink it up!” So strange and so funny.
Mark Wahlberg needs a knife, not a duck; Lone Survivor
It’s like a “who’s on first” Abbott & Costello comedy routine, but in a movie about a Navy SEAL stuck in Afghanistan. Mark Wahlberg just needs a knife, but the Afghan kid who might be his only hope can’t understand what he’s saying, so he brings him a duck. “That’s not a knife,” a bloody and bruised Wahlberg implores. “It’s not a knife. It’s a … duck!” And for more silly humor, here are the 20 Hilarious Words for Everyday Problems.
Batman tries to be subtle; The Dark Knight
Batman isn’t exactly a laugh riot in filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s take on the comic book hero, but there are a few unexpected laughs, like this one-liner from 2008’s The Dark Knight. When butler Alfred (the brilliant Michael Caine) asks Batman (played by Christian Bale) if he’ll be taking the Batpod to his next showdown with the Joker, the caped crusader is not amused. “In the middle of the day, Alfred?” he asks. “Not very subtle.” To which Alfred responds, under his breath, “The Lamborghini then. Much more subtle.” Want to see Christian Bale now? Here he is Fat and Bald As Dick Cheney.
Scarface wants you to say hello to his little friend; Scarface
It’s possible that this line, uttered by drug dealer Tony Montana (played by Al Pacino), was supposed to be menacing. But when he picks up a machine gun and screams “Say hello to my little friend,” before shooting a bunch of bad guys through a door, it’s just laugh out loud funny.
Never mind the bombs, let’s surf; Apocalypse Now
Lieutenant Colonel William “Bill” Kilgore, played beautifully by Robert Duvall, is not going to let something as irrelevant as enemy fire raining down on the beach stop him from surfing. “If I say it’s safe to surf this beach, Captain, then it’s safe to surf this beach,” he screams. And then he takes his shirt off. You know, like you do in war.
Darth Vader screams “NOOOOOOOO!”; Stars Wars: Revenge of the Sith
At the end of 2005’s Revenge of the Sith, Dark Vader is having a really, really bad day. He killed his pregnant wife, brought about the collapse of a peaceful intergalactic government, and got such bad burns that he’s stuck forever in a funky black suit with a weird wheezing face mask. He has ever right to be upset. But when he screams “Nooooooo,” it always makes us laugh. It’s just too melodramatic and silly. And for more on everyone’s favorite sci-fi franchise, here are the Best New Star Wars Locations You Can Actually Visit.
It looks clear to Vin Diesel; Pitch Black
A science-fiction horror movie starring Vin Diesel shouldn’t be making you spit out your popcorn with laughter. But that’s what we got in 2000’s Pitch Black, about a predatory alien attacking a human crew stuck on a strange planet. While hunting for the creatures at night, Diesel announces that “it looks clear.” Turns out, he’s very wrong, and a ferocious alien nearly makes a meal of them. “You said clear,” one of the crew members scolds Diesel, and the action star responds with a perfect deadpan, “I said it looks clear.”
Hooper and Quint compare scars; Jaws
There’s a lot of waiting in 1975’s killer shark thriller Jaws, but it’s not all filled with agonizing tension. In one scene, two of the hunters, Hooper (played by Richard Dreyfuss) and Quint (Robert Shaw) compare their shark scars. It reaches a laugh-filled conclusion when Hooper points to a nonexistent scar on his chest and says, “Mary Ellen Moffat. She broke my heart.” For a few seconds, we almost forgot about the shark destruction to come. And for some great movies brimming with amazing jokes, here are the 30 Greatest Comedies of All Time.
A pre-burial snack with Tommy’s mother; Goodfellas
One of the darkest scenes in Martin Scorsese’s 1990 gangster drama Goodfellas is also its funniest. (Yes, this is some pretty dark humor here. Be forewarned.) Three gangsters need to dispose of a body, and Tommy (played by Joe Pesci) suggests stopping by his mom’s place to get a shovel. His mom is awake and insists on making a big meal for them. As they eat and drink, telling stories about the “deer” they hit and admiring a crazy dog painting, we can hear the victim in their car, banging frantically from the trunk.
Trailer park lady 1, Mass murderer 0; No Country For Old Men
The Coen Brothers’ No Country For Old Men is a movie filled with carnage and bloodshed. It also includes this oddly funny scene, in which the killer (played by Javier Bardem) confronts a terse trailer park manager, who refuses to tell him what he wants to know. “Sir, I ain’t at liberty to give no informations about our residents,” she barks at him. Given how many people we’ve seen him murder already, we figure she’s done for. But even he can’t survive a showdown with this woman with a spectacular perm.
It’s Doctor Strange, not Mr. Strange; Doctor Strange
You don’t usually look to superhero movies for vaudevillian wordplay, but that’s what we got in 2016’s Doctor Strange. The eponymous hero, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, confronts the bad guy Mikkelsen, who attempts a greeting by calling his nemesis “Mister…”, waiting for Dr. Strange to fill in the rest. Strange corrects him, saying “Doctor.” Mikkelsen, looking confused, asks “Mister Doctor?” Dr. Strange corrects him again by saying, “It’s… Strange.” The bad guy, now thoroughly perplexed, says, “Maybe. Who am I to judge?”
Benicio Del Toro will flip ya; The Usual Suspects
Anybody have any idea what Fred Fenster (played by Benicio Del Toro) is saying when he’s being interrogated in 1995’s The Usual Suspects? “I said he’ll flip ya. He’ll flip ya for real.” His nonsense confession — or threat, who can be sure — is much-needed comedy relief in this crime noir classic that’s otherwise wall-to-wall drama.
Jack Nicholson and the stubborn waitress; Five Easy Pieces
One of Jack Nicholson’s best performances was in 1970’s Five Easy Pieces, about a moody oil-rig worker and former piano prodigy who returns to his hometown when he learns that his dad is dying. The movie’s most famous scene is also its funniest, with Nicholson at a diner, trying to order a side of toast despite the waitress’s instance that it’s not on the menu. He concedes to order a chicken salad sandwich, asking her to “hold the butter, the lettuce, and the mayonnaise.” What should she do with the chicken salad? “I want you to hold it between your knees,” he says. Only Jack Nicholson could make a line like that the funniest thing you’ve ever heard.
Ben’s enduring love of NKOTB; It
Last year’s smash horror hit It reintroduced a new generation of viewers to Stephen King’s ultra-scary clown, Pennywise, played by the devilishly brilliant actor Bill Skarsgard. Our favorite part of the movie, however, was the running gag that Ben—the portly newcomer to the group of pals—is a massive fan of the boy band New Kids on the Block. It all culminates in a hilarious moment when the gang visits his bedroom, only to shut the door, revealing a NKOTB poster on it.
Laurence Fishburne is leaving; Event Horizon
In 1997’s sci-fi horror flick Event Horizon, astronauts on a rescue mission try to figure out what happened to the missing crew of a spaceship and they discover a video log filled with images of blood and torture. Their captain, played by Laurence Fishburne, views the disturbing footage, and then, with a perfect deadpan, says, “We’re leaving.”
Never trust a guy with an axe who loves Huey Lewis; American Psycho
Does being wildly enthusiastic about Huey Lewis and the News make you a serial killer? Of course not. That’s just Patrick Bateman (played by Christian Bale) in the 2000 horror flick American Psycho. But just to be safe, if anybody asks us, “Do you like Huey Lewis and the News?”, we’re gonna keep our eyes open for the axe.
The hobbits may be over their head; Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
Leave it to hobbits to deliver the funniest line in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. This scene happened at the beginning, in 2001’s Fellowship of the Ring. Frodo’s pals Sam and Pippin crash the secret meeting to save Middle Earth, declaring that “you need people of intelligence on this sort of… mission…quest… thing…” It’s agreed that the hobbits can join, and then, the perfect punchline, a hobbit named Pippin asks, “Where are we going?”
Dumbledore’s got style; Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
One of our favorite characters in the Harry Potter series is Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of the wizarding school Hogwarts and an all-around cool dude. In 2007’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the Ministry of Magic attempts to arrest Dumbledore for conspiring with Harry and other students. But he of course isn’t going quietly, and makes his escape in the most insane way possible. Shacklebolt, another ministry wizard, remarks with the truest (and funniest) thing ever said about Dumbledore: “You may not like him, Minister, but you can’t deny; Dumbledore’s got style.”
Head bonk on Titanic propeller; Titanic
As the boat sinks in the 1997 disaster movie Titanic, it’s nonstop horror and fear. And then we see a guy fall from the ship and hit his head on the propeller blade, and it makes an almost comical BOOONG. It shouldn’t be funny, but it’s so, so funny. He has his own Facebook page. Billy Crystal mentioned him in his Oscar song in 1998, calling him “the propeller guy.” Yes, it’s very tragic that he was probably falling to his doom. But that bong! Oh man, it gives us the giggles every time.
Iron Man wants shawarma; The Avengers
After a climatic battle in New York against alien invaders, a very beaten up Iron Man asks his fellow heroes, “Have you ever tried shawarma? There’s a shawarma joint about two blocks from here. I don’t know what it is, but I wanna try it.”
It’s a weird and funny moment in the otherwise laugh free 2012 movie The Avengers, and it gets even better after the credits roll. We won’t ruin it for you, check it out yourself.
Heywood reads The Count of Monte “Crisco;” The Shawshank Redemption
It’s everyone’s favorite feel-good, heart-wrenching drama from the 1990s—a film about two men who meet in prison to forge a life-long friendship—but amid all of the sentimentality and horrifying scenes in prison, there’s at least one moment that’s just pure LOL gold.
When Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) works as the prison librarian, Heywood (William Sadler) asks him where on the shelves to put a copy of The Count of Monte “Crisco.” While that’s funny enough, it’s his mispronunciation of author Alexandre Dumas’ last name that will have you howling.
Cyclops and Wolverine; X-Men
You can’t be too careful when you’re a mutant superhero, especially when one of the villains is a shapeshifter who keeps disguising as people you trust. In 2000’s X-Men movie, Cyclops isn’t so sure that Wolverine is in fact Wolverine. “Prove it,” he asks. Wolverine responds with one line: “You’re a [jerk].” That’s all Cyclops needed to hear.
Nobody gets Raisin Bran on a date; Silver Linings Playbook
If you judged it just by this one restaurant scene, you’d probably think 2012’s Silver Linings Playbook was a light-hearted comedy. Not so much. But in this weirdly funny exchange, Pat (played by Bradley Cooper) argues with Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) about whether eating Raisin Bran counts as a date, among other ridiculous topics.
Mr. Pink doesn’t believe in tipping; Reservoir Dogs
It’s probably the only moment in Quentin Tarantino’s 1992 debut Reservoir Dogs that isn’t filled with cursing and bloodshed. It also happens to be the funniest. Mr. Pink (played by Steve Buscemi) explains why he never tips a waitress. Such a jerk. And we’re not even saying that because of his murdering and diamond heisting.
Mark Zuckerberg checks your math; The Social Network
2010’s The Social Network is a gripping drama about the rise of Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg). The Facebook mastermind isn’t exactly the world’s funniest dude, but he does get in at least one zinger, in which he double checks the math on 18 +1. Ah, so that’s how he became the richest man in the world. In love with this movie? Get ready to cast your ballot, and check out the 11 Signs Mark Zuckerberg is Definitely Running for President.
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