Great moments in physical comedy

When it’s bad, it’s unwatchable, but when it’s good, you never forget it.

In a car ride earlier today, “Foxy Lady” came on the radio, and my brain automatically went to this awesome scene in Wayne’s World. I cannot hear that song without picturing the sleeves on the flannel tied around Garth’s waist bouncing up and down in conjunction with his pelvic thrusts. The first time I saw it, I was laughing so hard I could barely breathe.

There are a lot of classics in physical comedy–what are some of your favorites?

The dance of the rolls in The Gold Rush.
The factory scene in Modern Times (especially starting five minutes in).
When Eric Campbell discovers Chaplin kissing Edna Perviance in Beyond the Screen. (It’s at 5:13, but start watching at about 4:30 to get the setup)

Getting away from Chaplin:
Climbing the building in Safety Last.
The falling building in Steamboat Bill, Jr.
W.C. Fields kicking Baby Leroy in the ass.

An early classic: Curly drinks hard liquor and kills the Clam Soup.

From the Three Stooges’ “Dutiful but Dumb”.

The mirror gag in Duck Soup:

Also, the clip where Harpo Marx has a ton of silverware fall out of his coat is great, but I can’t seem to find a youtube link.

Lots of hilarious gross violence in Bottom:

(some swearing is likely in these videos)
Gas Man
Chop chop!
Funny home video

Classic moment from Only Fools and Horses

David Brent dances

Niles Crane ironing

Fawlty Towers Germans episode: Basil doing the goose step.

Cramer going into siezures over Mary Hart’s voice on Seinfeld.

Cramer and Mickey’s fights on Seinfeld.

Most of Jim Carrey’s act is physical comedy, and much of it is brilliant. He’s the modern equivalent of Jerry Lewis without the annoying voice.

The Fish-Slapping Dance

(I’m confident that I’m badly misquoting this, but what the heck…)

(Mel brooks holds up three stone tablets) “I have been to the mountain where the Lord God has given me these fifteen” (one tablet slips out of his grasp to the ground and shatters)"…Ten! Ten commandments"

Sideshow Bob and the rakes.

Jim Carrey talking with his ass in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective just kills me.

Torn mime

Ernie Kovacs’ Nairobi Trio.

Allison Janney is an underappreciated physical comedienne. She had numerous bits on The West Wing (“The Jackal,” bits with exercise equipment, a killer meeting with Big Bird, etc.) and a wonderful throwaway gag in Primary Colors as a school librarian who Travolta’s character hooks up with (She does an accidental pole dance on a banister).

Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers) at a nudist camp in A Shot in the Dark.

The title character (Peter Sellers again) struggling with his arm in Dr. Strangelove.

Steve Martin trying to get control of his body from Lily Tomlin inAll of Me.

WTF? I found that creepy and disturbing, but not in the least bit funny. Is there some historical importance to it that I’m missing?

Ulysses Everett McGill, Pete and Delmar almost catch a train.

For awesomely disturbing mimes, you can’t beat Mummenschanz.

Yes, Kovacs’ “Nairobi Trio” represents one of the earliest examples of surreal dadaist humor in mainstream American culture. Firesign Theater, Andy Kaufman, early SNL, and a good chunk of comedy from the last 40 or so years has its roots here. Beyond that, however, it’s a waste of time to explain it. It either strikes you as funny or it doesn’t.

Bruce Campbell fighting against his own hand in Evil Dead 2, and an army of miniature clones in the windmill scene the Army of Darkness. Pure genius.

Not exactly a mitigating factor, but the people in those ape suits were Kovacs, his wife Edie Adams, and Jack Lemmon. It cracks me up to no end.