8 Perfect Television Moments (Comedy Edition)

comedy collage

A couple of weeks ago I was basking in the joy of watching a new episode of Happy Endings when it happened: Max in full-on winter hibernation mode got himself stuck in a trash can in pursuit of a discarded piece of cake and Max’s roommate Dave sighed and said, “And Pooh Bear transition complete.” It was a little moment in an episode chock full of hilarious one-liners, but it stood out. Just thinking about the scene now makes me giggle. It was one of those rare television moments I would deem 100% perfect.

But what makes a moment perfect? I think the phenomenon is subjective, but for me it’s a mix of flawless line delivery, a cool concept and above par execution. There’s no real scientific formula to it though, I just know one when I see it.

This week, in honor of Max’s Pooh Bear transition, I’ve singled out 8 perfect comedic moments (not all of them are from sitcoms, but they are all hilarious). Next week we’ll be taking a look at 8 perfect dramatic moments, but for now let’s focus on the funny.

1. The Office — “Stress Relief”
 

The Office

The cold open of the post-Super Bowl episode is so good it will make you forgive Dwight for being completely insane. Locking the entire office in for an unannounced fire drill is certainly not one of Dwight’s finer moments, but the shockingly hilarious levels of hysteria it led to made the psychological damage sustained by the Dunder Mifflin gang worth it.

Between the flying cat, Kevin looting the snack machine and poor Stanley having to face a reality where the last words he ever heard could very well have been Michael shouting, “Stanley, Barack is president!” in his face, the disastrous fire drill holds the distinction of being the most horrifyingly funny moment ever to grace my television screen.

2. Friends– “The One Where No One’s Ready”
 

Friends

“Could I BE wearing any more clothes?”

A fight over a chair escalates into Joey putting on every article of clothing Chandler owns. As sight gags go this one is solid, but Matt LeBlanc’s spot on imitation of Matthew Perry puts it over the top. Friends had plenty of great moments during its ten year run, but I can’t think of one that ever made me laugh harder than the look on Chandler’s face when Joey walked in sporting his entire wardrobe.

3. Community– “Epidemiology”
 

Community

In three short seasons, Community has amassed an impressive number of moments (and whole episodes) I would deem perfect, but the terrifying leaping cat capable of distracting Jeff during a mini-zombie apocalypse is my favorite for the way it handily subverts our horror movie expectations. A cat jumping once is a groan-worthy fake out. A cat jumping three times is comedy gold.

4. Arrested Development– “Afternoon Delight”
 

Arrested Development

Michael Bluth and his niece Maeby doing karaoke together should have been heartwarming. but then they sang “Afternoon Delight” and grossed out an entire office full of people.

It’s so wrong, that laughter is really your only option. What really sells the scene is the look of realization dawning on Michael’s face as the words to the song begin to register in his brain. In his defense, that melody really is deceptively innocent (as Ron Howard helpfully points out in the voice-over).

5. Spaced– “Gone”
 

spaced

The finger gun shoot-out is set up at the beginning of the episode when Tim and Mike demonstrate the “manly” activity, but it’s the pay-off at the end when Tim and Daisy get into an epic shoot-out with a bunch of trouble making kids that earned a spot on the list.

It’s played with completely straight, with both Daisy and Tim taking fatal imaginary hits as they fake-gun down the kids. Even the score is serious. The juxtaposition of the music with the inherent silliness of grown people having a finger shootout in the middle of the street always makes me dissolve into giggles. The moment is so cool Cougar Town couldn’t resist parodying it last season.

6. Parks and Recreation– “The Fight”
 

Parks and Rec

We have Tom Haverford to thank for the invention of Snake Juice, a particularly potent cocktail that led to the manic, drunken series of talking heads that gave us a crying, nearly incoherent Leslie, Spanish Janet Snakehole and most importantly, happy dancing Ron with a tiny hat on his head. That’s transcendent comedy right there, folks.

7. Fawlty Towers– “The Germans”
 

Fawlty Towers

Around the time Ricky Gervais was hitting puberty, John Cleese was busy turning embarrassment humor into an art form. Nowhere are his talents on more awesomely cringeworthy display than in “The Germans” where a concussed Basil Fawlty can’t stop mentioning the war to a group of unsuspecting German guests.

It’s the kind of moment that should never be watched when one is eating unless you want the last thing you ever see to be John Cleese’s gravity defying goose step.

8. Supernatural– “Wishful Thinking”
 

Supernatural Teddy

Supernatural is not by definition a comedy, but it has Ben Edlund on its writing staff and when you’re harboring a guy with that much offbeat comedic talent, you have to let him deliver the funny sometimes. In “Wishful Thinking” he gave the world a suicidal teddy bear with a drinking problem and an affinity for adult entertainment.

The moment when the Winchester boys open the door and first see the bear is priceless, both for their expressions and the giant teddy bear’s quick plea for them to “close the friggin door.”

 

That’s it for me, but be sure to check back for the drama list next week and in the mean time, I want to hear all about your perfect comedy moments in the comments!

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