Top 10 Comedy Movie Clichés

Written by Richard Bush These clichés are the cornerstones of comedy. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 comedy movie clichés. For this list, we’re taking a look at motifs that have become fairly predictable plot devices, storyline twists, phrases, sayings, themes or gags in comedy movies. But just cause they’re overused doesn’t mean they’re not funny! Special thanks to our user Andrew A. Dennison for submitting the idea on our Suggestion Page at WatchMojo.comSuggest
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Written by Richard Bush

Top 10 Comedy Movie Clichés


These clichés are the cornerstones of comedy. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 comedy movie clichés.

For this list, we’re taking a look at motifs that have become fairly predictable plot devices, storyline twists, phrases, sayings, themes or gags in comedy movies. But just cause they’re overused doesn’t mean they’re not funny!

#10: Quiet Event, Loud Yelling

All it takes is a nice, quiet office or a dip in the noise of a crowded public place for this classic comedy cliché to play out to max effect. Usually because of a surprising discovery, a rush of anger or spontaneous fear, our character in question finds him or herself in a typically noiseless area blasting his or her lungs out. And when done right, this little gem can work brilliantly. Take what seems like half of “Home Alone” or any Adam Sandler movie if you need proof.

#9: Good Things Happen to Nerdy People

We all love routing for the little guy, even if he is a total wuss. Although seemingly every comedy movie has one character who’s labeled as the nerd or the loser, comedy history would suggest that these guys almost always come out on top in one way or another – whether it’s by getting laid, earning a seat at the cool table, landing the hot chick or basically by being the life of the party. And sometimes, one extra special lucky dweeb gets to do all those things.

#8: Taking a (Drug) Trip

How do you work something completely nonsensical into an otherwise “sensical” movie? Why hallucinations, of course! Scenes where characters are blitzed on drugs give us comedy that could not possibly exist in the realm of sobriety. This usually involves our characters seeing stuff that isn’t there, or just making asses of themselves. Throw some deep-seeded paranoid feelings into the mix and you have a sidesplitting drug montage that shows the highs and lows of hallucinogens within the space of about 30 seconds.

#7: Etiquette Questions

When you’re an outsider, it can take a while until you know the ins and outs of a certain culture. And, frankly, it can be pretty funny to watch these fish-out-of-water trying to navigate etiquette misunderstandings – but boy, can it be brutal. Though it’s commonly as simple as a misinterpreted greeting, these merry mix-ups can escalate the alien presence of a character tenfold. Remember Mr. Bean’s eagerness to flip the bird in Los Angeles? Or how about Ron Burgundy at a family dinner? Or Borat just about anywhere?

#6: Parents Discuss the Birds & Bees

When your folks talk to you about sex in general terms, it can be a little awkward. When they overshare about their own sex life, it can be unbearable. However, if you take a fly-on-the-wall approach and watch another helpless soul go through the same thing, it can be fairly entertaining. This has become one of the most popular scenes of teen dismay in comedies; with the parents overtly open about the birds and the bees and the unlucky adolescent trying to look anywhere but right at them.

#5: Jocks are Jerks

Ah, the old athletic douchebag dilemma – a classic in coming-of-age comedies. This cliché centers on a certain character, typically the bullying type, who’s also very athletic, probably good looking, likely dumb and always a huge prick. He gives the less-sure-of-himself protagonist a hard time – be it to convey his own masculinity or because he is a dumbass who just doesn’t understand big words. Thankfully, in most comedies, this jerky jock character gets his comeuppance – it’s often pretty epic and it’s always very satisfying.

#4: Awkward Sex Scenes

Unfortunately for some, these particular comedy moments can be all too relatable. Typically taking place at a house party or after a date, awkward sex scenes can be both hilarious and incredibly uncomfortable for the audience – especially for those on a first date. These scenes are sometimes rooted in the lack of experience of those involved. Or sometimes it’s simple confusion, followed by stumbling and cringe-worthy dialogue. Either way, it’s awkward movie moments at their finest.

#3: When Cute Animals Attack

Aww, movie animals can be so adorable… But don’t let your guard down too quick. Cute animal attacks have been one of the most popular wildlife mishaps in comedy movies for years. Just when our characters are at their most vulnerable and looking a seemingly innocent critter in the eyes, it pounces, scratches, bites and brawls – mostly just to mark its territory. Don’t let its fluffy fur or giant eyes fool you; these adorable animals are out for blood.

#2: Amusing Injuries

Gruesome injuries aren’t funny. However, there are several scenarios where physical harm gets huge laughs. Take the timeless “item in crotch” trope. Or the slapstick classic “falling down.” Or, try throwing an unusual scenario and an even weirder injury into the mix and you have one of comedy’s greatest clichés. These hilarious accidents are usually rooted in comic timing, inconvenient peril or an unfortunate incident that triggers it all, like trapping your manhood in your zipper. And seriously, Ben Stiller is like the freaking master at this cliché!

Before we reveal our most treasured comedy movie cliché, here are a few honorable mentions:
- He’s Standing Right Behind Me, Isn’t He?
- Skinny Actor, Fat Suit
- Man Ass

#1: Get Your Mind Outta the Toilet

We get it: sometimes the sound of a fart can just getcha. And whether it’s someone letting one go in public, dashing for a toilet or simply making a poo joke, bathroom-related antics are one of the most popular tools in comedy – juvenile as it may be. Although many of these potty jokes can be a little flat and childish, when pulled off properly, they an trigger some serious laughs. Hey, we’re not proud.


Do you agree with our list? What is your favorite chronic comedy cliché of the silver screen? For more awesome top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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