30 Funniest Awards Speech Acceptance Punchlines
Mr. Big Bald Spot On the Side of Your Head finally gets his due.
There’s something mesmerizing about watching your favorite celebrity—someone you’ve seen deliver dialogue with impeccable timing onscreen countless times—fumble their way through an emotional awards-show acceptance speech in front of millions of people. And though it’s sometimes painful to watch (see: Winona Ryder), it’s utter bliss when he or she delivers a perfectly well-timed zinger.
With the Oscars lurking around the corner, we took this opportunity to compile these 30 most clever and funny speeches from awards shows, from comedians and non-comedians alike. So read on for a truly hilarious trip down awards-show memory lane.
Will Ferrell drops—and breaks—his award.
While accepting his Mark Twain comedy award in 2011, actor and comedian Will Ferrell dropped and literally shattered his award. Eek. This could have been a truly embarrassing moment for Ferrell. Good thing the actor has made it his life’s mission to turn embarrassing moments into hilarious punchlines.
Punchline: [Immediately after dropping the award] “As I stare at this magnificent bust of Mark Twain, I am reminded of how humbled I am to receive such an honor and how I vow very much to take very special care of it.”
Adam Sandler thanks his teacher, “Mrs. Rotten Breath.”
Adam Sandler has already thanked enough people in his lifetime. During this acceptance speech at the People’s Choice Awards in 2012, Sandler wanted to thank the grade school teachers who shaped his young life. He dedicated his award to, among others, Mrs. Rotten Breath, Mr. Big Bald Spot On the Side of Your Head, and Mrs. Really Old Lady with the Bad Wig Who Died Halfway Through the Second Grade. He owes you guys so much.
Punchline: “While I might not remember all of your names, teachers, I remember you, because you’re forever in my heart. Thank you so much, to the nice, short teacher with the weird glasses from kindergarten.”
Tina Fey calls out Alec Baldwin.
While accepting the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2010, Tiny Fey was killing it with one of the most famous funny speeches to date. It’s also important to note that the 30 Rock star was only the third woman to receive this prize—which she gladly brought up to gently remind the crowd just how far women had yet to go in the industry. The best part of the speech came when Fey thanked Alec Baldwin.
Punchline: “I want to thank Alec Baldwin for not coming tonight. I already have a reputation as a liberal media lunatic. I don’t need that guy following me around.”
Steve Carell’s wife writes his acceptance speech.
Steve Carell would like to thank his wife. Multiple times. Yes, Carell’s wife put pen to paper for his acceptance speech after winning Best Actor in a TV Series Musical or Comedy for The Office in 2008. It turns out that Carell is really really thankful for all the sacrifices his wife has made for his career in comedy. He’s especially grateful for the hours of grueling labor his wife went through for their beautiful children.
Punchline: “[I would like to thank] Nancy, my precious wife, who put her career on hold in support of mine.”
Cuba Gooding Jr. would like to thank literally everyone.
Ah, the dreaded Oscars music that comes on to remind you that yes, dear award winner, you in fact should not be thanking that one guy on the corner who complimented your shirt once. Cuba Gooding Jr., while accepting his award for Best Supporting Actor in 1997, did not heed this rule of brevity. When the band began to play, he started shouting out even more names to the heavens, declaring his love for each of them. His overwhelming passion and excitement were actually quite endearing, though I’m sure the band didn’t appreciate being upstaged by his screams.
Punchline: “Here we are! I love you! We’re gonna keep going!” [Music volume increases; Gooding Jr. shows no signs of stopping.]
John Lennon pokes fun at Simon and Garfunkel.
Poor Art Garfunkel. He’s so tired of being the backup dancer, and never the Britney. This particular night at the 1975 Grammys seemed to be quite a strange one indeed. John Lennon and Paul Simon casually announced the winner, and Art Garfunkel stomped up to receive the award for Record of the Year, on behalf of Olivia Newton-John.
Punchline: “So, who’s the Ringo?” Zing!
Robin Williams impersonates George Bush.
Yep. It happened—and it was hilarious. His funny speech charmed the crowd with a quick impersonation of George Bush’s blundered foreign visit with Japan while accepting his Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture in 1992.
Punchline: “A couple of sakes! I didn’t know.”
Emma Thompson reads Jane Austen Fan-Fiction.
Emma Thompson was so excited about her role in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, that she wrote her own fan fiction to read upon accepting her Golden Globe Award in 1996. Thompson sang Austen’s praises while wondering aloud how the author would feel at an event such as this one. It was with that inquiry that Thompson took it upon herself to step into Austen’s shoes with a short clip of fan fiction, to be read aloud at the awards show. We are pretty sure that Jane Austen would have been a total lady boss.
Punchline: “It occurred to me to wonder how [Austen] would react to an evening like this. [beat] This is what I came up with.”
Jim Carrey is done dancing for the man.
Not only did Jim Carrey arrive on stage with a cigarette in hand (it was the ’90s), we also had a hard time actually recognizing the actor while accepting his MTV award for Best Male Performance for The Truman Show. His long head of hair, thick beard, and dark sunglasses did little to hide the level of weird Carrey brought to the stage with him that night, shortly after losing out on an Oscar.
Punchline: “After this year’s so-called Oscar race, I realized that dancing for the man just ain’t where it’s at.”
Adrien Brody kisses Halle Berry.
After winning the Best Actor award at the Oscars in 2003, Brody walked confidently onto the stage and into the surprised arms of Halle Berry. As it turns out, one of the more funny speeches in the history of the Oscars did not need to involve any dialogue.
Bill Murray would like to thank no one.
Bill Murray is usually up to no good. He didn’t shirk from this responsibility while receiving the award for Best Actor in a Comedy for Lost in Translation. He didn’t skip a beat while refusing to thank anyone. We feel you, Bill.
Punchline: “There are so many people trying to take credit for this I wouldn’t know where to begin.”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus thanks Parks and Recreation cast.
Amy Poehler makes an appearance in this funny acceptance speech “blunder.” While accepting an Emmy award for her role in Veep, Julia Louis-Dreyfus is handed a crumpled up piece of paper by Poehler. After Louis-Dreyfus begins to read her acceptance speech, thanking the Parks and Recreation cast, we begin to realize she’s not reading her own speech—she is reading Poehler’s. If only they gave out awards for best acceptance speech skit.
Punchline: “I’d like to thank NBC [not Veep’s network], my boys Archie and Able [not Louis-Dreyfus’ kids]…”
Merritt Wever has to go.
Only seconds after accepting her Emmy for Best Supporting Role in Nurse Jackie, Merritt Wever keeps it short and sweet and to the point. She gladly thanked everyone for the award, and then dashed off the stage with a quick, hilariously pointed farewell. Okay, so maybe we have a new hero. Did you hear that, Cuba Gooding Jr.? Short and sweet.
Punchline: “I gotta go. Bye!”
Amy Poehler gets shoulder rub from Bono.
This a headline that only seems fitting for someone as goofy as Amy Poehler. Among the other hilarious women in comedy beaming from the audience as their names were called, Amy Poehler was too busy dealing with other important matters.
Punchline: [As the camera pans, Poehler is sitting on Bono’s lap, getting a back rub]
Anna Kendrick shoots ’em straight.
Anna Kendrick has never been great at small talk. After accepting her award for Best Soundtrack at the 2015 American Music Awards, Kendrick had a few choice words (in jest, of course) for the soundtrack’s producers.
Punchline: “You only made me want to kill myself three times. You’re a ruthless little group of sociopaths, and I admire that.”
Ellen DeGeneres gives a gift to the audience.
If this award did exist, it would surely go to comedic empress Ellen DeGeneres. We love Ellen because she accepts her People’s Choice Humanitarian award with the perfect amount of humility and wit that causes every audience member to grin from ear to ear—and caps off one of her more memorable, funny speeches with a perfect gift.
Punchline: “Tonight, I want to make you happy, so I brought a shirtless photo of Chris Hemsworth to share.”
Taylor Swift gets back at Kanye West.
This was a long time coming for the pop princess. It was even longer walk to the podium as Taylor anxiously awaited the impending Kanye West outburst. She used her Grammy acceptance speech to oh-so-obviously take a jab at a certain awards show-interrupting rapper.
Punchline: “There are going to be people along the way to try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame.” Burn…
Julia Roberts forgets the name for “conductor.”
This was a moment in time for Julia Roberts when someone should have shaken her shoulders and gently reminded her to “use her words.” She forgot a few of them while accepting an Oscar for her supporting role in Steel Magnolias.
Punchline: “Sir, you’re doing a great job, and you’re doing a great job with that stick, but why don’t you sit, because I may never be here again.”
Meryl Streep has “Streep fatigue.”
Meryl Streep is tired. The strain of the awards season doesn’t hit anyone quite nearly as hard as Streep. Her “Streep fatigue” is apparent as she barely manages to accept the Golden Globes award—thanks to having to give so many acceptance speeches in such a short time.
Punchline: “You’ll have to forgive me. I’ve lost my voice.”
Gwyneth Paltrow cries—a lot.
Gwyneth Paltrow has too many feelings, and nowhere for them to go as she names every person who helped her along the way. She accepts her Oscar for Best Actress in 1999 amid a flurry of tears and snot. While it’s not precisely the punchline she had hoped for, it made all of us thankful for the Oscars music putting an end to the awkward sobfest.
Punchline: [To Meryl Streep] “I— I don’t feel very deserving of this in your presence.”
Patton Oswalt shows up in spandex.
In a pre-recorded video, Patton Oswalt—who couldn’t make it to the 2006 Cringe Humor Awards—delivered this funny speech in full body silver spandex.
Punchline: “Just before I do my last ever silver boy fantasy dance for visiting Saudi Arabian businessmen here in Los Angeles.”
Sacha Baron Cohen and Will Ferrell Makeout.
Just another day in the comedy frat house. Sacha Baron Cohen and Will Ferrell celebrated their win for Best Kiss at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards by recreating their famous lip-lock from Talladega Nights in live action.
Punchline: [Pure physical comedy.]
Russell Brand sends in a prerecorded video.
During a prerecorded acceptance speech for Best TV Performer in a Non-Acting Role in the 2007 Broadcasting Press Guild Awards, Russell Brand casually admits to phoning in his funny speech.
Punchline: “There’s no real reason for you to stay concentrated.”
Kathy Griffin actively doesn’t credit Jesus.
Unlike literally every other star, Kathy Griffin does not owe any of her success to her belief in God.
Punchline: “If it was up to him, Cesar Millan would be up here with his [dang] dog.”
Matthew McConaughey is all right.
We honestly hope the actor utters this famous line in every one of his acceptance speeches going forward. He accepted the Oscar for Best Actor with such grace and wisdom until he uttered his famous line.
Punchline: “All right, all right, all right.”
Ben Affleck and Matt Damon lose their minds.
In 1997, Good Will Hunting earned Ben Affleck and Matt Damon Oscars for Best Original Screenplay. The then young actors looked like an adorable mess as Affleck screeched his thanks out as Damon stood by his side grinning wildly, like a couple of really excited kids at recess.
Punchline: Affleck: “I know we’re forgetting somebody.” Damon: “Whoever we forget, thank you!”
Jennifer Lawrence can’t even make it to the stage.
We can’t talk about the most significant acceptance speeches without mentioning this famous trip heard around the world. Jennifer Lawrence had barely made it to the stage to accept her Best Actress Oscar before she was literally falling over herself with glee, further proving that she’s just the girl next door—who also happens to be a very talented actress with one of the most famous funny speeches of all time.
Punchline: “You guys are just standing up because you feel bad that I fell.”
Robert De Niro thanks the makeup team.
Unlike others on the list, it seemed as though Robert De Niro didn’t quite know who to thank for his 1981 Best Actor Oscar. He thanked nearly every department for his award, including the makeup team on set. It’s clear that no one in that movie suffered from FOMO that night.
Punchline: “I forgot my lines so the director wrote them down for me.”
Angelina Jolie shrugs off her success.
Punchline: “You guys are so kind to me. They must be paying you.”
Roberto Benigni can’t speak English.
It wasn’t even seconds after accepting his Oscar for Best Actor that Roberto Benigni realized that he didn’t know enough English words to convey his appreciation adequately. Our favorite part is when he captured America in perhaps the most honest way any foreigner can.
Punchline: “Grazi, America, land of a lot of things.”
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