The Funniest Improvised Scenes in TV Shows and Movies
From classic shows like Friends to modern favorites like The Big Bang Theory, we all love sitting down in front of the television to watch some comedy and have a laugh. I'm pretty sure you'll agree that it takes some real talent to be a true comedic actor - nothing is worse than a strained attempt at humor followed by forced laughs. The father-of-the-bride's speech at a wedding is evidence enough of that! Writing scripts for funny television shows and movies is one of the hardest jobs in the biz, but it's one that doesn't get enough recognition.
That said, every so often we - as viewers - stumble across a scene that isn't entirely down to the comedic genius of the scriptwriter. Every so often, actors are given the freedom to improvise, and the resulting lines are utterly hilarious. It goes without saying that much of our viewing history is scripted, but you might be surprised to see that some of the films, scenes and lines that we know and love the most weren't actually meant to turn out that way at all!
Matt Bomer, Space Station 76
Space Station 76 was only released in 2014 – it's still a very recent film, but somehow its popularity means that it feels like it's been around a lot longer than it actually has. In this film, Ted (played by Matt Bomer) is a habitual pot smoker who tries to keep his vice a secret. However, when Liv Tyler's character Jessica discovers Ted's marijuana plant, he has to come up with an excuse sharpish. Believe it or not, his reason was completely unscripted – the actor improvised the whole idea. I won't give it away in case you haven't seen the film yet, but it's fair to say that it raises a laugh every time!
Ricky Gervais, Galavant
You might remember Galavant as being that television show that hilariously combined comedy, music, special guests and a fairytale theme. Actually, I say you might remember it, but that sounds as though it's been relegated to the deepest, darkest corners of a television subscription service. On the contrary, we're currently awaiting the release of a new series, which is set to be just as brilliant as the first series.
British comedy actor Ricky Gervais was one of the famous faces who appeared on the show, but instead of learning a script, he actually improvised his lines. Rather than being offended, the scriptwriter Kirker Butler was pleased with the improvisation and innovation of Gervais, saying that the episode was "so much better" as a result!
Stephen Merchant, Extras
This is one story of improvisation on top of improvisation on top of improvisation! Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais are a great comedy pairing which has resulted in numerous brilliant television shows, most notably Extras. Apparently the pair improvised so much during the writing process that they "didn't really need to improvise on the set". However, all that improvisation clearly wasn't enough, as they still resorted to ad-libbing from time to time! To have that much unscripted material and still end up with one of the funniest shows on television shows the mark of a true comedic genius!
It seems like almost overnight Ron Burgundy has become one of the world's most popular comedy characters from across the film and television board. Anchorman is such a comedy classic that when news broke that there was going to be a sequel, it was a pretty exciting moment. However, what nobody was expecting was for Anchorman 2 to include some improvisation, but it does.
You know the scene where Ron Burgundy is fighting the shark? The people who were standing and watching from the safety of the beach didn't have a script to follow, so most of their lines were improvised. The fact that their reactions were genuine makes the scene even funnier than it was before!
Jim Carrey, Dumb and Dumber
Jim Carrey has got to be one of the greatest comedy actors of all time. His characters often cause chaos for others in the film, but it's not difficult to imagine that he's pretty similar in real life, as well. Perhaps some of his natural cheeky side came out in the film Dumb and Dumber, during the scene at the 7/11. In this scene, he talks to a bunch of bystanders, saying "Hey guys. Woah, big gulps, huh? All right! Well, see ya later!"
These words weren't in the script – they were totally improvised. What was the point? Well, it was Carrey's way of messing with his fellow cast members. They had been told that they weren't allowed to say anything during filming, so Jim Carrey was teasing them by trying to encourage them to talk. It must have been a pretty fun day on set, but the fact that it transferred itself so well to the viewers as well is an added bonus.
Matt Jones, Breaking Bad
Breaking Bad has taken over the world in recent years; it's got to be one of the biggest and best television series of our times – if not ever. If you haven't seen it yet, then beg, borrow or steal your way to a copy of the box set and binge watch the entire thing over a weekend. You won't regret it.
In the series, the character of Badger is good friends with Jesse, one of the main characters. In an attempt to get back on the straight and narrow, Badger (played by Marr Jones) lands himself a job doing sign twirling during Season One Episode Five. If you've seen the series then you'll know the scene I'm talking about; if you haven't, then you'll know it when you see it. Believe it or not, everything that Jones said during that scene was improvised. Kudos to him for crafting a scene that has become so memorable in the minds of the fans!
Ben Stiller, Zoolander
Zoolander is one of those awesome comedies that never gets old, no matter how many times you see it. That's got to be down to the acting talents of Ben Stiller, at least in part. During the film, Stiller's character asks why male models have been so influential over recent years.
Stiller has admitted that when the scene was being filmed, he wasn't paying attention, which meant that he repeated the line, "But why male models?" Stiller's co-actor David Duchovny took the mistake in his stride and improvised the line, "Are you serious? I just told you that a moment ago". Amazingly, the line made it into the final cut, and eventually it became one of the most famous lines from the entire film. It just goes to show that even the most talented people in the world can slip up at times, but when they do it isn't necessarily the end of the world!
Eugene Mirman, Flight of the Conchords
Flight of the Conchords originally started out life as a comedy band from New Zealand, before developing into the hit comedy television show which we're all familiar with. The show originally aired in 2007 and the final series finished in 2009. I know, I can't believe its run was that short, either. Nevertheless, during that time the line "The sink works. It just comes out of a different place" became one of the funniest and best known lines from the entire show. However, what you probably didn't realize is that the line (which features in the 'Girlfriends' episode) was an improvisation. You never can tell which lines from film and television will become catchphrases, but this just goes to show that sometimes you don't even need a scriptwriter to come up with a memorable, iconic line!