20 Funniest Oscar Moments of All Time
We'd like to thank the Academy for these hilarious incidents.
Was that in the script?
Each year, all eyes are on Hollywood when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents its picks for the best of cinema and doles out those coveted gold Oscar statuettes. While the Academy Awards are the serious older sibling to the alcohol-fueled Golden Globes, that doesn’t mean there haven’t been plenty of hilarious gaffes, gags, and giggle-worthy speeches. We think these 20 moments deserve an award of their own: the funniest Oscar moments of all time. And while you’re in the mood for movies, check out this list of Oscar Best Picture winners ranked—from worst to best.
Jerry Lewis’ 20-minute improv
The 1959 Academy Awards ended much earlier than expected, so that year’s host, comedian Jerry Lewis, was tasked with filling the remaining 20 minutes of the show. He did everything from launching into a monologue and joking about the show’s low ratings to conducting the orchestra. At one point, he even attempted to play the trumpet. Think you could pull off the same feat? Brush up on your comedic chops by learning these 9 secrets to telling a great joke, according to stand-up comedians.
Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler’s show opening
The 2019 Oscars were a little…nontraditional, given that there was no host. But that didn’t stop the all-female power trio of Saturday Night Live alumnae—Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler—from opening the show with a bang. “So just a quick update, in case you’re confused: There is no host tonight,” Rudolph said. “There won’t be a popular movie category. And Mexico is not paying for the wall.”
Jack Palance’s onstage push-ups
When Palance won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for the comedy City Slickers in 1992, he called on Hollywood producers to use older actors for older roles (instead of putting aging makeup on younger actors). To illustrate his point, he did a few push-ups—including some that were one-armed.
Melissa Leo’s potty mouth
Melissa Leo was very excited to win the award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Fighter—so much so that she dropped an F-bomb during her acceptance speech. She later apologized for offending viewers. But Leo might be on to something: Swearing is actually good for your health.
Cuba Gooding Jr.’s competition with the orchestra
Though Cuba Gooding Jr.’s 1997 Oscar win for Jerry Maguire wasn’t exactly a surprise, his acceptance speech drew attention when he started shouting over the orchestra. For approximately one minute, he yelled about his excitement, gratitude, and love for everyone as he was being played off the stage. If you still have a soft spot for Jerry Maguire, here are more of the best football movies of all time.
Chris Rock’s scathing #OscarsSoWhite monologue
It’s no secret that the Academy Awards tend to favor the work of white men, and when Chris Rock hosted the show in 2016—when 20 white actors were nominated in the lead and supporting acting categories for the second year in a row—he had a few things to say in his opening monologue. “I’m here at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the White People’s Choice Awards,” he said. “You realize if they nominated hosts, I wouldn’t even get this job. Y’all would be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now.”
Björk’s infamous swan dress
There are few outfits as iconic as the dress Björk wore at the 2001 Academy Awards. Not only did she essentially wear a swan around her neck, but her frock also laid six eggs on the red carpet. While this was certainly a questionable fashion choice, these award show scandals rocked the industry.
Anne Hathaway and James Franco’s hosting fail(s)
When Anne Hathaway and James Franco co-hosted the 2011 Academy Awards, there really weren’t laugh-out-loud funny moments. Instead, there were cover-your-eyes cringing scenes—exacerbated by their nonexistent chemistry—that made you awkwardly giggle and wish that the show would be over soon. In case you were wondering, here’s what the Academy Awards and other major awards shows used to be like way back when.
Jennifer Lawrence’s on-stage fall
Jennifer Lawrence was the “it” girl in 2013 but proved she was just like the rest of us by falling on her dress on her way to accept her Best Actress Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook. We still can’t believe these 10 classic movies didn’t win Oscars.
Ellen DeGeneres’ star-studded selfie
In 2014, Ellen DeGeneres decided on a whim to try to get as many stars in a selfie as possible. Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Bradley Cooper, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, and a ton of other A-listers jumped in. The shot was so epic, it broke the Internet.
The creators of “South Park” dressed as JLO
Funny men Trey Parker and Matt Stone decided to have fun on the red carpet in 2000 by donning Jennifer Lopez-inspired gowns. What do you expect from two of the most popular comedians?
Elizabeth Taylor’s streaker
Everyone was stunned during the 1974 Academy Awards when a streaker named Robert Opal ran across the stage nude in front of David Niven as Elizabeth Taylor came on to announce Best Picture. Check out these movies with memorable one-liners.
Ben Stiller’s Avatar costume
Never one to miss an opportunity to be funny, Ben Stiller decided to dress in full “Avatar” makeup to present the achievement in makeup award at the 2008 Academy Awards.
Ellen DeGeneres’ pizza delivery
A-listers were delighted when Ellen DeGeneres had pizza delivered in the middle of the 2014 show, which the talk show host hosted. Brad Pitt even gave a helping hand.
John Travolta’s name slip-up
The public went wild for days after John Travolta completely butchered Idina Menzel’s name when presenting her with the award for Best Original Song.
Roberto Benigni’s seat acrobatics
Roberto Benigni was so excited about his win, he jumped on top of his seat and continued to climb to the stage at the 1999 Oscars.