The 1990s gave us so many laugh-out-loud movies, with certain actors (e.g. Mike Myers and Ben Stiller) making big splashes in the comedy world. Meanwhile, proven comedians (like Bill Murray and Robin Williams) were still churning out instant classics.
It was also a decade filled with new comedy directors: the Farrelly brothers made a slew of fan favorites; Wes Anderson emerged onto the scene with his novel brand of quirky humor; the Coen brothers continued exploring various themes through their very particular lens of dark comedy.
With all of these legendary actors and directors, it wouldn't be unreasonable to argue that the 1990s were the best decade for comedy films. Here are our picks for the funniest scenes of those years.
10. "Have You Seen This Boy?" (Wayne's World)
Take a look at Mike Myers at his self-referential, spoofing best. Wayne's World (1992) was a wacky film born from an SNL sketch.
Pulled over, Wayne nervously awaits as a policeman approaches his car in what becomes an overt reference to Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). Wayne looks right into the camera and screams, half-mirroring our own screams of laughter in the audience.
Part of the humor here is that you actually expect this to be plot-relevant, but it ends up being just another gag.
9. "My Biological Clock Is Ticking Like This!" (My Cousin Vinny)
My Cousin Vinny (1992) is the definition of iconic. In this hilarious scene, Marisa Tomei (in an Oscar-winning performance) goes head-to-head with Joe Pesci in yet another argument.
Panicked about how the case is going for her boyfriend, Lisa gives Vinny a piece of her mind. However, the comedy in this scene comes from his response: at first, he's almost entirely indifferent, but as he remembers all of the issues he has to contend with, he spirals into a classic Joe Pesci rant.
"I got a judge that's just aching to throw me in jail. An idiot that wants to fight me for $200. Slaughtered pigs! Giant loud whistles! I ain't slept in five days! I got no money! A dress code problem!" And on and on it goes.
Joe Pesci's delivery and his chemistry with Marisa Tomei make this one of the funniest scenes of the 1990s.
8. "That'd Be Great..." (Office Space)
Office Space (1999) is one of the most classic comedies of the 90s, and for good reason: it connected with cubicle workers across the nation who all felt like their own work was meaningless and mundane.
The film's comedy captures this sentiment perfectly. Peter, who's already demoralized about performing his job, has to hear about the same TPS report from two different supervisors, all within about two minutes.
The depiction of useless micromanaging by middle management is spot on, with Gary Cole's expert delivery being the icing on the cake. "Yeah... If you could just make sure you do that from now on, that'd be great."
7. "I Want to Talk About..." (American Pie)
American Pie (1999) is one of the quintessential teen comedies. It has everything you'd want in a crude coming-of-age story: parties, nervous sexual conquests, a bit of gross-out humor, and one very particular scene involving an apple pie...
After having been caught in the most humiliating position of his life, Jim bumps into his dad, Noah, while admiring the family portrait that hangs in the hall. "Boy, that was a fun day, wasn't it?"
Jim agrees, pleased that any potential awkwardness is being brushed over. But Noah continues: "Jim, I want to talk about masturbation." Jim is now forced into the worst conversation of his life.
This scene is especially funny because almost all of us have had a cringe-inducing moment like this with our parents—just maybe not as devastatingly humiliating as this one. This scene is essential viewing for everyone who has ever had to have that talk.
6. "Me... Me... Me" (Groundhog Day)
Bill Murray made an entire career for himself by being a sarcastic know-it-all. However, he was at his sardonic best in Groundhog Day (1993).
As the character of Phil Connors, he's desperately trying not to alienate himself from the woman he's beginning to fall in love with. But, unfortunately, he's still a misanthrope. While he's trying to engage her in a pleasant discussion about dating, he can't help but quip wise.
What makes this scene so funny is that watching Murray in action like this is like witnessing a boxer with precise counter-punching: every reply is dripping with sarcasm. He just can't help himself!
5."C'est la Vie" (Rushmore)
Rushmore (1998) is one of Wes Anderson's best films, as well as one of his most underseen. Max, a student at a prestigious school called the Rushmore Academy, falls in love with his teacher. He attempts to seduce her by several means, but ultimately employs the gentleman's approach.
It's the formality of the entire interaction that makes it so funny. Max has approached the encounter as though it were a job interview, and his flirting is lacking all of the playfulness that's supposed to make it fun.
After suffering a setback, Max feigns indifference: "I understand. You're not attracted to me. C'est la vie." Ms. Cross is unsure how to deal with him, so simply states the obvious: "Max, you're fifteen years old."
Though there are many funny lines, it's Max using the pencil sharpener mid-seduction that's the highlight of this scene.
4. "Get Back in Your Cell!" (Mrs. Doubtfire)
Robin Williams had long been known for his impersonations and funny voices, so the character of Mrs. Doubtfire was perfectly crafted for him. It gave him the opportunity to put his side-splitting bits on full display.
The best example of this? When he calls his ex-wife Miranda and puts on his craziest of crazy voices, with the funniest of all as a man who simply screams down the line at Miranda, followed by the demand: "Get back in your cell! Don't make me get the hose!"
Though the entire scene is golden, Sally Field's horrified expression is something to behold, as is Daniel's smug expression.
3. "Who Does No. 2 Work For?!" (Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery)
Yep. It's juvenile, crass, and downright silly, but it just doesn't stop being funny. In this scene, when Austin Powers goes to use the toilet, he's the victim of an assassination attempt... and what follows afterwards is a farcical misunderstanding.
The scene is uproarious because the scenario is totally ludicrous: two people on toilets, one wearing a cowboy hat, the other being strangled to death by a terrorist with a lucky-charm bracelet. But it's the punchline that cements this as an all-time great scene: "What did you eat?!"
2. "This Is What Happens, Larry!" (The Big Lebowski)
The Big Lebowski (1998) was so good, it actually started a religion. Whether you embrace Dudeism or not, the comedy is just phenomenal.
While the whole film is packed with wit and always dropping gems of subtle humor all over the place, our pick for standout scene goes to the one where Walter and The Dude believe they've found the person stealing from them.
John Goodman deserves an Oscar for this scene alone. "Is this your homework, Larry? Look, Larry! Have you ever heard of Vietnam? You're entering a world of pain, son! We know this is your homework!"
He tries his best to intimidate the stoic teenager, all the while looking over at his mother to ensure he isn't thrown out of the house.
"You see what happens, Larry? This is what happens, Larry!" It never stops being funny, and the punchline is both unexpected and doubly hilarious.
1. "I Don't Know. Boredom?" (There's Something About Mary)
Another comedy of errors makes it onto our list, although this one is undeniably the cleverest.
In There's Something About Mary, Ted thinks he's being interrogated by detectives for picking up a hitchhiker, which is a crime in his state. But he's actually being questioned because a dead body was found in his car.
Horrified, one of the cops asks: "Why did you do it?" Ted is nothing but nonchalant in his replies, making it all the darker: "I don't know. Boredom? The guy turned out to be a blabbermouth, just would not shut up."
What ensues is a hilarious misunderstanding. While the officers think that Ted is an unhinged maniac confessing to dozens of murders, he's simply divulging all the times he's helped someone hitchhike.
The result makes Ted Stroehmann look more like Ted Bundy, and it's all due to the expert-level writing in this funny 90s comedy film.