Comedy is difficult for many reasons, and sitcoms are no exception. Actors are often required to stay in their character, while retaining a natural reaction to something funny. This urge to laugh is a major challenge for an actor, and it can sometimes be too difficult to resist.
Character breaks almost always end on the blooper reel of a series. Sometimes, however, this natural reaction ends up being broadcast on televisions across the country. The magic of editing can make sitcom blunders less noticeable than the character breaks that occur in sketchy comedy shows likeSaturday Night Live. Even all the same, spotting an actor’s break-up is both humanizing and a treat for the audience.
ten The Carol Burnett Show (Harvey Korman)
The longtime sketch comedy pioneerThe Carol Burnett Showwas known for one actor in particular who broke in front of the camera. Harvey Korman (who also starred inFlaming saddles) would laugh in front of the camera, usually at the antics of Tim Conway.
Examples of Korman breaking up are plentiful throughout his time on the show. Conway told Conan O’Brien that he once even made Korman pee in his pants while laughing on camera.
9 The Drew Carey Show (Drew Carey)
Drew Carey sometimes burst out laughing during his eponymous sitcom. Usually this happened when one of his costars improvised while delivering a line. This mainly came courtesy of Ryan Stiles, whoDrew Carey Showtrivia buffs know they’ve worked with Carey again inWho owns the line anyway?
Carey’s breakup happened much less frequently in her sitcom than it did in the aforementioned panel (where her breakup was basically part of the problem). However, it’s easy to see why he continued to work with Stiles.
8 This 70s Show (Mila Kunis & Laura Prepon)
This 70s showwas one of those sitcoms that created a family of colleagues. Pretty much every episode features an actor standing in the background, choking off laughter. Two of the actors are particularly guilty: Mila Kunis and Laura Prepon.
While most TV shows couldn’t get away with such a frantic character breakup, This 70s showreally benefit from it. These characters feel like real friends, and the organic laughter only serves to heighten the illusion.
7 Seinfeld (Julia Louis-Dreyfus)
Behind the scenes of the shooting ofSeinfeldreveals that of all the actors, generally to the chagrin of Michael Richards, it was Julia Louis-Dreyfus who broke the character the most. Louis-Dreyfus wasn’t content with breaking sometimes, she was constantly breaking, and sometimes it crept into the show. For example, in the episode “The Little Kicks”, we can see her sporting a genuine smile while performing her bizarre dance.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus was not the only one to break upSeinfeld, but it has carved out the lion’s share. Jason Alexander and Jerry Seinfeld broke up intermittently while Michael Richards actively stayed in character and got mad at others when they didn’t do the same. Overall, however, it seems that Louis-Dreyfus’ laugh was a gag order.Seinfeldin itself.
6 30 Rock (Live shows)
Seasons five and six of30 Rockboth changed the format by filming in front of a live studio audience. This was done a lot in the vein of the show30 Rockparody:Saturday Night Live. However, they still kept30 Rockpenchant for gags and quirky humor.
There are various line flubs throughout the two episodes, but they are mostly comparable to the course when it comes to live TV and not overly noticeable. However, at one point in the season five episode “Live Show”, Alec Baldwin noticeably loses his place in the middle of his sentence.
5 3rd Sun Rock (Jane Curtin)
John Lithgow’s tight pants made former SNL Jane Curtin cry in front of the camera in this’ 90s sitcom. Curtin plays Dr. Mary Albright, essentially playing the erratic behavior of surrounding characters.
When the lover of his character, the alien Dick Solomon, puts on particularly tight pants, he has a hard time getting up from his desk. Curtin doesn’t break until he’s out of the room, making a dramatic, awkward spin.
4 Friends (Jennifer Aniston)
On Friends, when David Schwimmer’s Ross plays the keyboard for the rest of the band, Aniston’s Rachel begins to crack almost immediately. As the song progresses, Aniston covers his face but his breakup becomes more and more evident. She struggles to deliver her next line without an infectious laugh and the scene is arguably better for it.
The cast ofFriends was notoriously close throughout production, so they’re tickling their bones funny isn’t a big surprise. There were plenty of slides that made it to the final cut throughout this series, but Aniston’s break is the most memorable. This results in one of theFriends’ funniest scenes.
3 Development stopped (everyone at David Cross)
the character of David Cross onDevelopment stoppedis a Nevernude. In one episode, he breaks his mostly make-up state and walks past the cast, wearing everything.Development stoppedwas another show where the actors felt more like family than anything else, and it’s never more evident than in this scene.
Everyone present (except Cross) seems to stifle the laughter to some extent. It was Portia De Rossi, however, who just broke up. She holds her attention to a bowl of cereal, obviously focusing on the prop to avoid laughing at the camera.
2 Parks and Recreation (Adam Scott)
During the season five episode “Pawnee Commons”, some government employees in Eagleton visit the Parks Department to show off a model for a new Pawnee Park. It ends up being extremely insulting, and the shot mostly stays on Leslie (Amy Poehler) and Ben (Adam Scott) for reaction.
Scott hesitates when the model is unveiled. Then when Poehler begins to deliver his line with a growl, he begins to snap. The shot is even then zoomed in a bit, capturing her smile. Scottis then recorded as the camera adjusts to the left, focusing on Poehler.
1 The Office (Ed Helms, Mindy Kaling & BJ Novak)
DuringOfficeHoliday episode of season six, Michael competes hard with Phyllis for the title of Santa Claus. Phyllis dismisses her colleague Kevin because he would be too heavy. When Michael offers his knees, Kevin collapses, resulting in a blatant and genuine fight from Steve Carell.
Along with Carell’s growls, Ed Helms steps out of the camera while Mindy Kaling and BJ Novak can be seen laughing. The focus is mostly on Kevin and Michael, so it’s a snap and you miss it, but the authenticity of these actors’ reactions is hysterical.
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