Top 10 Hilarious Slapstick Movie Actors
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Written by Shane O'Gorman
These actors brought brilliant physical comedy to the big screen with the slapstick antics and humor to some of their most famous roles! WatchMojo presents the top 10 funniest Slapstick movie actors of all time! But who will take the top spot on our list? Will it be Jim Carrey, Charlie Chaplin, or Buster Keaton? Watch to find out!
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These funny people built careers out of the antics that got you sent to detention. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 hilarious slapstick movie actors.
For this list, we’re focusing on actors who made us laugh thanks to their specialization in the art of ‘slapstick,’ a genre of comedy focusing on exaggerated body movements and over-the-top scenarios. Those actors who appeared in slapstick movies but who acted as the straight man – like Leslie Nielsen, for example – will not be included.
#10: Peter Sellers
Peter Sellers made a career out of falling down constantly. Perhaps best recognized for his portrayal of the dimwitted inspector Clouseau in the wildly popular ‘Pink Panther’ film series, Sellers sold the role thanks to his expert comedic timing, his accident-proneness and his ability to mimic an outrageous accent. While his falling down and getting hurt did make for some absurdly hilarious moments, it was all the more impressive that Sellers somehow developed an actual character through these same silly antics. With every bump, slam and crash, Peter Sellers not only entertained the audience, but also conveyed innumerable personality traits just through body language. Now that’s slapstick.
#9: Sacha Baron Cohen
Influenced by the antics of Peter Sellers, Sacha Baron Cohen also brings his many fictional personas to life with top-notch physical performances. But what makes Baron Cohen stand out among his fellow funny people is how he quite literally brings the performance to the real world by interacting with unsuspecting bystanders, prompting some truly genuine and hilarious results. In addition to his excellent characterization and capacity for accents, Baron Cohen doesn’t shy away from performing downright ludicrous deeds in public places for the sake of selling a joke. It’s one thing to act like a goofball on-set, but out in the open for everyone to see? Now that’s commitment to your craft.
#8: Jackie Chan
You might think it’s strange that a martial artist is being mentioned alongside comedic actors, but we’ll break it down for you. Jackie Chan’s many films, like “Rush Hour” and “Shanghai Noon,” are action focused, but the fight choreography within them is heavily inspired by slapstick comedy. The pacing of Chan’s action scenes plays out more like a dance than a fight, with people falling over or suffering unfortunate consequences thanks to misplaced punches and kicks. What’s more, Chan’s commitment to his craft means he’s most of the bones in his body. So while we were splitting our sides from laughter, he was busting his body in the name of entertainment.
#7: Jerry Lewis
Rising to fame due to his collaborations with Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis charmed audiences with his gleefully energetic and bombastic performances. Of course, Lewis’ greatest strengths were his wild facial expressions and sarcastic attitude when delivering his lines. Plus, his wise-guy qualities resulted in some sensationally over-the-top responses. Part of what makes the genre of slapstick comedy so funny is how the actions and mannerisms are exaggerated well beyond how people normally behave; Jerry Lewis took this approach and turned it up to eleven. And when he makes a complete fool of himself, he never fails to put a smile on people’s faces.
#6: Rowan Atkinson
Rowan Atkinson has a master’s degree in electrical engineering. Even though he’s highly intelligent, he’s ironically chosen to make a name for himself playing the boneheaded Mr. Bean. Very rarely uttering comprehensible words – let alone complete phrases – Mr. Bean’s a lovable but outrageously silly sketch comedy character invented by Atkinson himself. Bean is adored for his childish bounciness and lack of logic, which inevitably lead to moments of heightened peril or stress. But this bean-headed character wasn’t his only venture on the comedy scene, as Atkinson also portrayed the similarly outrageous individual Johnny English in a different series of films. That’s a one-two punch of slapstick goodness.
#5: Marx Brothers
These five brothers entertained audiences with their incredibly funny yet surprisingly varied comic skits. They were somehow always able to bring something fresh to the table, despite utilizing the same routine of jokes over and over again. Their oddball sense of humor – from slapstick to witty deadpan – resulted in some of the most bizarre, yet hugely compelling scenarios in the history of comedy. Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Gummo and Zeppo continue to live on, each showcasing a unique form of hilarity.
#4: The Three Stooges
With a successful career spanning well over four decades, these three Stooges always had a new trick up their sleeves for people to enjoy. Although the line-up of Stooges changed many times over the years, these guys never to failed to provide some truly gut-busting films in their time, with a strong emphasis on physical humor and people getting hurt for the sake of a laugh. Their style was far rougher around the edges and harsher in comparison to other popular comics of the day, but their films still bring the laughs today, so they must have done something right.
#3: Jim Carrey
This goofball has been nicknamed ‘rubber face’ thanks to his ability to contort his face and body into positions that would be right at home in cartoons. In fact, for all his leaping around with limitless energy and shouting at the top of his lungs, Jim Carrey might as well be a living cartoon character. Whether he was sporting a magical mask, telling lies or talking out of his ass, Jim’s always able to make each performance feel fresh and just as wild as the last. You could say he can …‘Carrey’ … a film all on his own.
#2: Buster Keaton
An icon of the silent film era, Buster Keaton caught everyone’s attention with his stoic and almost lifeless reactions to what were otherwise painful looking slapstick comedy routines, hence his nickname “The Great Stone Face.” It was second nature for Keaton to play a disconnected character in the middle of zany situations, and he did it in such a riveting fashion that he made an art form out of the simple act of being careless in the face of total anarchy. In addition to his knack for slapstick, Keaton enjoyed the act of parody as well, using both techniques to his advantage to leave his mark in a big way.
Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few more side-splitting funny people…
- Lucille Ball
- Chris Farley
#1: Charlie Chaplin
Behold the godfather of the ol’ slipping on a banana gag! Without Chaplin, the other nine entries on this list may never have been inspired to be as funny as they were. With his assortment of rip-roaringly hilarious comedy films from both the silent film era and the ‘talkies’, Chaplin has such a string of iconic classics that his influence can no doubt be felt to this day among aspiring funny people. Not only was he a master of physical comedy, but Chaplin was also an undeniable genius at writing the many storylines that he threw himself into – both figuratively and literally! He is indeed, the champion.