corpsing, giggle fits
May 14, 2011 9:27 PM   Subscribe

Uncontrolled laughter: 20 best 'corpsing' videos | Corpsing is a British theatrical slang term used to describe when an actor breaks character during a scene by laughing or by causing another cast member to laugh. | The Art Of Corpsing 1 and 2.



A BBC TV programme on 18 November 2006 stated that the term "corpsing" originated when a living actor played a corpse on stage; there was sometimes a temptation to try to make that actor laugh.

News Anchor Can't Stop Laughing

Corpsing live on air
posted by nickyskye (47 comments total) 74 users marked this as a favorite

 
Surely Tim Conway and Harvey Korman are on that list...
posted by darkstar at 9:30 PM on May 14, 2011 [12 favorites]


Heheh, these are fun.

Classic example of Conway and Korman cracking each other up on the Carol Burnett Show.
posted by darkstar at 9:34 PM on May 14, 2011 [15 favorites]


Conway... Korman... they are comic geniuses. Break the rules, win the laughs!
posted by ovvl at 9:37 PM on May 14, 2011


The only really funny example of corpsing from Saturday Night Live.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 9:39 PM on May 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


These just seem like a lot of giggling bloopers, no? I was hoping for ruthless breakup clips like Conway and Korman.
posted by scrowdid at 9:42 PM on May 14, 2011


This is the funniest thing ever, to me - Stefon, completely losing it, just a few days ago (Bill Hader, SNL)
posted by four panels at 9:49 PM on May 14, 2011 [10 favorites]


Filliam H. Muffman.
posted by zinc saucier at 9:55 PM on May 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


I was tempted to laugh along with the newsreader in the first video when I found out that the Russian for "pot-bellied pig" is вислобрюхая свинья, "saggy-bellied pig." It's a pretty funny name for an animal found on a pot plantation.
posted by Nomyte at 9:55 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Personal favorite: the Prince Charles scandal on the Daily Show.
posted by you're a kitty! at 9:59 PM on May 14, 2011 [28 favorites]


I LOVE it when they crack up over Stefon...its more funny than just the Stefon gag itself.

Also, the "more cowbell" skit is mostly only funny to me because Jimmy Fallon starts to lose it and then everyone starts to go, even Christopher Walken.
posted by nile_red at 10:07 PM on May 14, 2011


Oh hell, I feel completely bad for how hard I laughed at the Debbie Downer clip.
posted by nile_red at 10:18 PM on May 14, 2011


Wow, I'm getting old. I thought those links were going to be Christina Appelgate losing it at Chris Farley's "van down by the river" motivational speaker.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:34 PM on May 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm not really a fan of the term 'Corpsing' to describe this. Kinda gross.
posted by delmoi at 10:42 PM on May 14, 2011


That list is over here, drjimmy11
posted by nile_red at 10:42 PM on May 14, 2011


Corpsing is a British theatrical slang term used to describe when an actor breaks character during a scene by laughing or by causing another cast member to laugh.

In the states, we call that a "jimmy fallon". Everyfuckingtime that same guy.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:45 PM on May 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


I love it when Colbert and/or Stewart break, largely because they do it so infrequently. The best is when one of them makes the other lose it on the toss -- I love Jon hiding behind his script to compose himself.

Stefon, on the other hand, I love because he breaks EVERY TIME. Seriously, not once has he managed to not break. Apparently it's because changes are being made up to the last minute, so sometimes Hader's reading it for the first time as he performs.
posted by katemonster at 10:58 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Somewhat related: "Pretty much everywhere, it's gonna be hot."
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:01 PM on May 14, 2011


I'll just leave this here- the funniest crackup in television history.
posted by pjern at 11:08 PM on May 14, 2011 [22 favorites]


I'm doing something called "breaking"! The audience loves this!
posted by incomple at 11:11 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Two clips of Paul Henry.

For him it's not so much corpsing as genuinely thinking that he's the funniest fucker on the planet.
posted by Wataki at 11:20 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


No mention of Tamsin Grieg, who is apparently notorious for corpsing?

I read that Green Wing has so many altered-speed moments in part to disguise the corpsing.
posted by winna at 11:59 PM on May 14, 2011


darkstar: "Heheh, these are fun.

Classic example of Conway and Korman cracking each other up on the Carol Burnett Show.
"

Those guys were geniuses, watching them laugh only made me laugh harder.
posted by bwg at 2:48 AM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not really a fan of the term 'Corpsing' to describe this. Kinda gross.

I believe the British came up with the expression because you kill off the character you're playing when you revert to yourself on stage. At least that's what a drunken Brit actor told me. And in such lovely round, albeit slightly slurred, tones.
posted by umberto at 5:23 AM on May 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


Oh! I've been looking for that Laurie Mayer video for years since seeing it on TV as a kid -- and now here it is! That's made my day.
posted by sleepcrime at 5:36 AM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I believe the British came up with the expression because you kill off the character you're playing when you revert to yourself on stage.

I was under the impression that it refers to playing a corpse, and having to be perfectly still, and getting uncontrollable giggles.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:38 AM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Um, like it says in the more inside.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:39 AM on May 15, 2011


Any post on corpsing should have at least a bit of Pete & Dud in it.
posted by MUD at 6:40 AM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lone voice from the back of the room - I'm not a fan of this type of thing. Hader's "Stefon" break-ups actually seem scripted to me. I guess it's just me but I'm always annoyed when actors lose it.
posted by davebush at 7:07 AM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Corpsing" has been the term for this for years and years and years. And yes, it comes from when an actor has to play a corpse on stage, but for one reason or another--sometimes because other actors are trying to cause it, sometimes simply because the actor knows MUST NOT MOVE OMG--they get the giggles.

Olivier was particularly guilty of corpsing.

I am in complete agreement with pjern about that clip from Carol Burnett being the epitome of corpsing--mainly because it was invariably Tim Conway causing some other cast member to lose it, so to see Vicki Lawrence not only keep it together while Carol Burnett and Dick Van Dyke are cracking up on either side of her, but to give it back to Conway in spades, is just a glorious moment in the history of corpsing.
posted by tzikeh at 8:11 AM on May 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


Ladies and gentlemen, the youth chili cookoff (Zach and Unger).
posted by anothermug at 8:15 AM on May 15, 2011


you're a kitty!: Personal favorite: the Prince Charles scandal on the Daily Show.

I'm glad somebody posted this. Colbert also happens to be my favorite person to break character. Whenever he does break character, it means whatever he is doing or saying is ridiculously over-the-top and hilarious already, but it's just made even funnier by Colbert not being able to hold it in.
posted by BenS at 8:39 AM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Colbert was losing it just a couple of weeks ago.
posted by homunculus at 9:17 AM on May 15, 2011


I can see why it's painful for the actors, but I love this sort of stuff. The Bigus Dickus scene in Life of Brian was one of the funniest of the movie for me.
posted by Coventry at 9:42 AM on May 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


The only really funny example of corpsing from Saturday Night Live.

Surely not.
posted by MrBadExample at 10:47 AM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Don Rickles SNL (from the Murphy/Piscopo era) was full of this. Rickles ad-libbed in almost every sketch and finally Joe lost it and was practically doubled over trying to recover.

Does not seem to be on Hulu, alas.
posted by dhartung at 11:03 AM on May 15, 2011


Two from Who's Line:

Tapioca

Animal Porn
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:10 AM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Another great Colbert-losing-it section at the end of this one:

Pap Smears at Walgreens
posted by moorooka at 2:40 PM on May 15, 2011


My favorite... Rachel Dratch loses it and takes the whole cast along with her.
http://www.hulu.com/watch/68225/saturday-night-live-debbie-downer
posted by Lukenlogs at 2:58 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Horace Rumpole: "I was under the impression that it refers to playing a corpse, and having to be perfectly still, and getting uncontrollable giggles."

Happened to me once. The audience was trying to get me to laugh, which was the worst. And then they would call out stuff like "That's one lively stiff up there!" and so on. I was miscast, they should have had me playing a live guy. I could do that all day.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:17 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not being a television personality, I had to content myself with trying to score a laugh in more mundane, yet more inappropriate venues, like in class, hospitals, libraries, and of course, church. You scored big when the laugh was near involuntary, like a demented sneeze. Bonus points for ejection of bodily fluids.

I don't have a degree AND I am most certainly going to Hell, but I won't be bored.
posted by Artful Codger at 3:37 PM on May 15, 2011


Radio newsreader gets the hiccups.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 5:27 PM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Radio newsreader gets the hiccups.

Love that! :-D ROFL
posted by nickyskye at 6:50 PM on May 15, 2011


late to the party but seeing Stephen Fry go through this in QI and the panel not helping at all gets me every single time.
posted by Lucubrator at 7:59 PM on May 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


When you watch The Holy Grail, and get to the "She's a witch" scene watch Michael Palin closely. At one point he starts biting his scythe to keep from laughing. In The Life of Brian the scene with Palin playing the speech afflicted Roman and the Centurions are collapsing in laughter? those Centurions are not acting all that much.
posted by edgeways at 10:04 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


That feeling of uncontrolled laughter fighting its way out of you at inappropriate times? The BBC show Coupling called it the "Giggle Loop" but among my friends and I it was always known as "The Effect". It's the worst malady I can think of that the entire time you are suffering from it, you are having an absolutely miserably great time.

I love it, hate it, and enjoy the he'll out of others suffering from it.
posted by quin at 4:45 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Corpsing" has been the term for this for years and years and years. And yes, it comes from when an actor has to play a corpse on stage, but for one reason or another--sometimes because other actors are trying to cause it, sometimes simply because the actor knows MUST NOT MOVE OMG--they get the giggles.

Which is why it was perplexing to me that none of these corpsing videos involved this situation.
posted by DU at 6:12 AM on May 18, 2011


Craig Ferguson and Geoff Peterson
posted by homunculus at 9:31 PM on May 20, 2011


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