Funny / Boardwalk Empire
"I never went near him, I swear!"
- After Chalky drops the word "motherfucker" in casual conversation, Nucky turns to Eddie, his butler, and asks, "What's motherfucker mean?"
- Mieczyslaw Kozik turning into Mickey Doyle in the pilot episode:
Nucky Thompson: "A rose by any other name".
Mickey Doyle: What's that supposed to mean?
Nucky Thompson: Read a fucking book!
- Nucky's invoked anti-joke "I'm a little short" is improved to so bad it's good by little man's barely resigned stoicism.
- Capone doing a random echo of Corrigan's words when Torrio asks him why is he kicking the crap out of Corrigan?
I'm making a statement.
- Eli's speech at the St. Patrick's Day Celtic dinner, which almost provokes a war between the Americans and the native Irish.
- Nucky making a Bad Boss remark to Chalky, who doesn't get the reference.
Chalky: I don't give a fuck they agree or not.
- The look on Lucky Luciano's face when Arnold Rothstein tells him that he's sleeping with Jimmy's mother, not his wife.
- Rothstein's snarking in that scene is pretty funny, too - "I've got a crystal ball, Charlie, and you're missing your trousers."
- Nelson Van Alden is interrogating a wounded Jewish gangster in a dentist's office. The man replies in Yiddish. The middle-aged woman nearby reacts to it, and Van Alden demands she translate:
Woman: I can't...
Dentist: Mrs. Fishbaum!
Van Alden: Word for word. This is a federal investigation.
Woman: He said you should fuck your grandmother... with your faggot penis!
- Then topped when Van Alden's partner Agent Sebso corrects her: the gangster specifically said "little faggot penis."
- The fact that Van Alden is able to bluff his way into getting the guy out of Atlantic City, first by making up a non-existent type of warrant and paying some homeless guys to pose as his backup, and then, when it looks like the guy's going to die he just bursts into a dentist's office and demands the dentist give him a double-shot of cocaine in the mouth to wake him up.
- Rothstein, on the topic of the D'Alessio brothers:
You know what the nice thing about the Bronx Zoo is, Charlie? There are bars between you and the monkeys.
- "That imbecile [Warren Harding] is going to be the next President of the United States!"
- The maid's explanation to why she chose to poison the Commodore instead of outright killing him. "Because if I had used a shotgun, I'd have to clean up the mess myself."
- Perhaps one of the darkest funnies in recent television, near the end of the first season when Chalky has taken two of the D'Alessio brothers prisoner. Lucien starts getting lippy to Nucky and Jimmy.
Lucien D'Alessio: Fuckin tough guy huh, gonna shoot me for mouthing off?
Jimmy Darmody: Well, I wasn't going to, but now you kinda talked me into it. [shoots him in the head]
- As well as the look on Meyer Lansky's face. If his hands weren't tied, he would have facepalmed.
- Capone shoots Sixtus D'Alessio in the head, and then casually eats an apple no longer needed by the deceased.
- Fallon, Rothstein's crooked lawyer, is impressed by his client's skill at lying. He tells Arnold it's not too late to go to law school. Rothstein counters that he picked an honest profession.
- Two words: Midget boxing.
- Every single one of Van Alden's interactions with Lucy in Season 2. "This is what the actors are supposed to say?", "Please speak up", "I brought lemons"... the list goes on and on.
- Van Alden's expression when he sees the flickering light after Agent Clarkson wakes up and talks to him, as if he just received a sign from Heaven.
- A lot of "Peg of Old".
Jimmy: It's hard to believe that in a year and a half, things have changed so much.
Luciano: Sure, Meyer started shaving.
- Van Alden's epic WTF face when Nucky suggests a Biblical name for Van Alden and Lucy's baby girl.
- Van Alden and Esther:
Van Alden: I am a married man.
Esther: There goes my dream.
- Van Alden's Oh, Crap! reaction when Lucy walks into his office which gets even worse when she reveals she's pregnant.
- In "Ourselves, Alone", Lansky and Luciano's tandem Oh, Crap! reactions to Bugsy telling them that Rothstein's outside waiting for them.
- And then later in the scene, Rothstein one-ups them by volunteering them to be muscle on a liquor delivery in lieu of allowing Joe Masseria to kill them. The subsequent stunned look from Luciano and Face Palm from Lansky are perfect.
- The Commodore, abed after suffering a recent stroke, labors to speak to Eli, who leans in closer only for the old man—who can barely form words—to loudly call him a “cockfuck.” Repeatedly.
- Van Alden and his wife walking in on two agents wrestling in the office.
- Mrs. Van Alden looks very turned on watching her husband bust a restaurant that's selling liquor. Cut to a bed hammering against the wall...and zoom out to reveal Van Alden is showing her the mattress is busted.
- Capone's nonplussed reaction to George Remus.
- The Commodore's reveal of his newly dyed hair. "Did he fall into the shoe polish?"
- Arnold Rothstein's hilariously unsympathetic reply when asked by Jimmy if he has children,“No, but I'm told they often say unexpected and amusing things.”
- Nucky wishes Owen a top o'the morning, and says "That's what you people say, isn't it?" Owen replies in (friendly) Sarcasm Mode "Yes, and if you leave your shoes outside at night, we'll fix them for you."
- Made all the funnier/more ironic by the fact that Nucky has to be a maximum of two generations removed from the Emerald Isle himself.
- A really dark one is the "...seriously?" look on Jimmy's face when Manny Horvitz says he can't kill his associate, Herman for conspiring with Nucky . . . because he's injured. Manny's a kosher butcher, of course.
- It's also kind of funny (also in a dark sense) in that part of Jimmy's reaction is to the effect of "Wow, so this is how crazy other people think I am."
- It's pitch black humor, but there's something kind of humorous about Manny turning down the offer of money and instead murdering Angela by citing a Yiddish proverb to the effect that money is nothing if you don't have your health.
- Plus his "What the fuck?" when Angela's girlfriend rather than Jimmy falls out of the bathroom dead. It's like he's wondering, "I didn't get the wrong address, did I?"
- Nucky upon hearing Margaret's son crying after she slapped him: "You were just praying!"
- When Nucky and Teddy visit New York to consult Rothstein's lawyer, Bill Fallon, Teddy spies a baseball in Fallon's office signed by Ty Cobb. Fallon makes a big show of giving it to him. As Teddy goes out of the room to let the men conduct their business, Fallon opens his desk drawer to reveal a drawerful of signed Ty Cobb baseballs. The smirk on Rothstein's face and the raised eyebrow from Nucky just make the scene.
- Arnold Rothstein has to have the classiest way of calling bullshit on someone in history:
Luciano: Word is, [Nucky]'s got a beef with his brother.
Rothstein: I would have thought James Darmody.
Luciano: Nah, Darmody ain't got it in him.
Rothstein: Pillow talk, Charlie?
Luciano: What, his mother? I'm through with that.
Rothstein: (nods, then sniffs and has a disgusted expression on his face)
Lansky: What's the matter?
Rothstein: Manure. But what can you expect when you conduct your business in a stable?
- Nucky's overly literal take on a Biblical parable. "They couldn't bend their arms?" Also funny because Margaret brings up Nucky's own use of parables, and that part of the scene could be read as a Lampshade Hanging of the show's love of Let Me Tell You a Story.
- Mr. Pearson of Princeton puts into words what has been painfully obvious throughout the entire show:
(to Jimmy) "That's your mother?! I thought she was . . . well, let's just say your life is pretty Jacobean
all on its own."
- Torrio's What an Idiot reaction to Al not getting his "Romulus and Remus" joke.
- Lucky, Lansky and Capone telling Doyle that they are cheating him out of his part of their previous deal, then Capone slapping Doyle while laughing his ass off.
- And then Doyle tries to get back his money by recruiting Van Alden for a fake federal raid against them:
Doyle: I put this whole operation together, and what do I receive? A poke up my ass.
Van Alden (deadly serious): Painful.
- This exchange from the season two finale:
Nucky: Et tu, Eli?
Nucky: Shakespeare. Julius Caesar.
Eli: There was a character named Eli?
- One small funny moment from an otherwise very dark scene - Jimmy's death. Jimmy asks Nucky who's going to do it. "Manny? Eli? (looks to Owen for a couple of seconds) ...You?"
- Richard makes an attempt to tell Tommy about his dead mother when Gillian intrudes and asks what he was talking about. After a few seconds of muttering, Richard replies with "The war" in a manner where even he isn't convinced that Gillian would believe him. It's almost hilarious that despite his times with Jimmy, Richard is still unable to tell a lie.
- Rosetti's entire "The Reason You Suck" Speech to the other businessmen, particularly the prelude when Nucky arrives "Look, another mummy" and the line "You smug kike midget, creeping around like a fucking dentist with the ether" to Rothstein, who replies with his trademark smile to the rant.
- When Gyp and Tonino stop into a diner for some food, Gyp actually asks the waitress to explain what Spaghetti and Meatballs is. Her obvious awkwardness at trying to explain the dish to a pair of Italians is dark (or just cruel) comedy at its finest. Gyp continually playing along with his unknowing 'act' only seals the deal.
- Eddie Cantor and Billie Kent's rendition of "Old King Tut", especially when the camera goes over to the gang bosses watching. Gyp shows up late, carrying the dog of the mechanic he killed earlier. He awkwardly introduces the dog to the bosses, and is about to talk to Nucky about their arrangement when Cantor drags Nucky away to talk to Billie, causing Gyp to promptly say, "That's okay, I wasn't really interested in finishing my thought" without changing his tone of voice.
- In addition to being a Moment of Awesome, Van Alden coming into O'Banion's to sell irons and finding himself accidentally becoming a temporary mob enforcer is brilliant, as is O'Banion reacting like "I can't believe that worked" after the situation gets defused. The funniest thing is that Van Alden doesn't actually do anything except stand still, look impassively intimidating, and say as little as possible (ie exactly what he always does).
- Rosetti's Blatant Lies at Tabor Heights when Nucky's convoy stops for gas. Rosetti is lying so blatantly that Owen can't keep a straight face.
Gyp Rosetti: I think you've got me mixed up. I'm uh, [points to the sign on the station] D.L. Collingsworth. Proprietor.
Owen Sleater: Really?
Oh yeah. We go way back around here. Slept with George Washington
- The entire scene of Mickey picking up Eli from prison. Particularly Eli asking the same question as everyone in the audience: "How the fuck are you still alive?"
- The sheer irony value of Van Alden being arrested in a speakeasy raid, and bribing a cop to let him go.
- Mickey Doyle is running his distillery and strong-arms a partner by claiming he killed Manny Horvitz (he didn't). One of his delivery boys overhears this and is tasked with taking a crate of whiskey over to Gillian's place. Richard Harrow, the one who actually killed Manny, is tending bar that night and the errand boy mentions the conversation he overheard. Subsequently, Mickey returns to his apartment with a date, but just as they're getting intimate, they turn on the lights revealing Richard is there, and pointing a gun at them.Richard then marches Mickey out at gunpoint, in his underwear, and takes him straight to Nucky:
Mickey: I didn't kill Manny Horvitz!
Richard: He's telling the truth.
Nucky: How do you know?
Richard: How do you think?
- A psychotically awkward moment when Gyp seems about to explode in a fit of rage because he feels he's been compared to a monkey. Gyp then starts mimicking monkey guttural sounds to reveal that he's just trolling, much like Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas.
- Owen attempting to write the Italian phrase for "good luck" comes out as "Bone For Tuna".
- A nun's Bowdlerization of the hospital's pre-natal care seminars, followed by Margaret coyly suggesting that maybe she could use a Kotex.
- Nucky paying off Agent Zowicki, and telling him to "go buy a personality".
- Roland Smith's Refuge in Audacity reaction to Owen strong-arming him:
Owen: What's your name?
: Lon Chaney. [Owen punches him]
Norma Talmadge. [Owen punches him again] Baby Peggy
. [Owen punches him a third time]
Owen: Roland Smith.
Roland: You're mean to children.
- Rothstein's conversation with Mickey about his missing delivery.
Rothstein: But why am I calling you? Why is that even occurring?
- Part II when Mickey calls him again much later:
Mickey Mr Rothstein, am I disturbing you?
- This exchange when a deadly serious Rothstein calls Nucky out on his cavalierness.
Nucky: Big noise from a man who's dead below the waist.
Rothstein: I practice discretion...
Nucky: You practice bullshit.
- In "You'd Be Surprised", Benny and Meyer have gotten a shipment of heroin that's hidden in miniature Buddha statues:
Benny: They pray to that fat fuck?
- Gyp Rosetti's Easter dinner. The violent psychopath is completely cowed by his female relatives. It's only made better when Tonino attempts to leave Gyp alone with them and he throws him a terrified look, both threatening and supplicating.
- Nucky's juggling act.
- Eddie Cantor is being intimidated by Chalky and Purnsley. He only makes his case worse by referring to Chalky as "Milky".
- Billie Kent's spunky cinema audition.
- Nucky finally paying the price for his boozing... a $5 fine he just shrugs off pulling out a wad of bills and asking the bailiff if he can break a $100.
- In "The Pony", Eddie barges into Nucky's office where Eli and Owen are present with news of Jimmy's death. Nucky immediately dismisses it as speculation until Eddie reveals that it's in the newspaper as a drowning accident. The quick exchange of "WTF?!" between Nucky, Eli, and Owen is just hilarious.
- Esther Randolph's answer to Nucky's asking what does she do for fun: "I run naked through the pages of the United States criminal code."
- The arrest of George Remus. Remus is chased around his house by the Feds, until Remus slips and falls on his ass. And then Randolph indulges herself in some Remus-speak.
Remus: Remus has paid! Remus has kept recipts!
Randolph: Then Randolph would be very interested in seeing them.
- Tommy Darmody is drawing a typical kid's picture, and has to explain it to one of Gillian's hookers. Richard gets it right away:
The rhinoceros is waiting for the train.
- The polite and reassuring New Era Speech delivered by sociopath extraordinaire Rosetti when he buys the town, "sheriffs will keep on sheriffing, librarians will keep checking out books... because it's very important to read..." (winks jovially) Also, Bible camp's been cancelled, and he's not really doing Q&A either.
Gyp: Bible camp is cancelled, and I'm not really doing questions and answers right now.
- Gyp Rosetti's showing up wearing a stolen Nice Hat from the Revolutionary War, a precious window to his mental process. His men briefly look at him funny with a mild bewilderment, recollect the inclinations of the the man and wisely continue about their business in silence.
- A whole beach full of people going nuts over whiskey bottles washing up on shore, having fallen off one of Gyp's boats. A guy dressed as King Neptune for the show they came for tries to keep their attention for a few seconds, then runs over to snag a few himself.
- Van Alden turning into the Incredible Hulk during his unstoppable rage.
- Especially "No, ma'am...it's an iron."
- A Freeze-Frame Bonus shot of a drunk flapper doing her "walk of shame" at dawn on the boardwalk. Much needed (along with the following shot of Richard and Julia beneath) after the shocking previous scene where Nucky, Eddie and Margaret discover Owen's dead body.
- The quick degradation of Gillian's 'classy' brothel after Gyp takes over it, ending with her hitting a gangster with a broom so he'll stop fornicating in the middle of the reception room. She totally looks like an old lady trying to throw some street dogs out of her yard!
- "Margate Sands"
- Bombarded with questions concerning the gang war and Nucky Thompson's involvement, Mayor Bader replies: "Let's get something straight: Nucky Thompson doesn't run this city! I do!" There's a beat, and then the reporters burst into laughter.
- Masseria loses his sardonic grin and showing his annoyance about Rothstein "still taking dinner in Times Square", and his condescending dominance over Rosetti in general, e.g. casually patting Gyp on the cheek and setting his clock to remind Gyp his time is running out.
- After Chalky's and Capone's men spend an episode fighting each other, they work together to slaughter the men Masseria sent to Gyp, and Capone simply says "Glad I got that out of my system" and they part on good terms.
- "That guy with the mask. Who the fuck was that?" It's a little amusing when you consider that most of Gyp Rosetti's men killed by Richard during the shootout had no idea who he was or why he attacked them.
- The circumstances of Gyp's death. He's on the beach, relieving himself, and singing "Barney Google" horribly, when Tonino stabs him in the back.
- As one YouTube commenter put it: "Before American Idol, this is how you got cut for lousy singing!!!!"
- The preceding Villainous Breakdown is also a treat, with Gyp making a bizarre impression of Nucky Thompson ("I have important garters holding up my very important socks") and holding his eyelids open while yelling at his henchmen before suddenly proclaiming himself Barney Google.
Gyp: I'm Barney Google, with the goo-goo googly eyes, and I never, EVER, take anything PERSONAL!
- Nucky and Eli's "Oh, for god's sake!" faces upon seeing Dickie's mutilated corpse.
- Al Capone's obsession with a newspaper article spelling his name wrong.
- Likewise, Al and his brother Frank, two grown men, wrestling on the floor of their home like kids. Their other brother Ralph spurs them on until Mama Capone comes in to break things up.
- Van Alden is going door to door, working for Dean O'Banion who is a gangster and a florist.
- At one place, the female resident just had a baby. Van Alden delivers flowers, and he tells her: "Mr. O’Banion sends his congratulations."
- Another place has just had a death in the family. Van Alden delivers flowers and tells the man answering the door: "Mr. O’Banion offers his condolences."
- At the third place, a man opens the door. Van Alden punches him and says (in the same, monotone tone he used on the previous two people): "Mr. O’Banion wants his money."
- Eddie's over the top Badass Boast on Nucky's behalf when Ed Bader doesn't show him the proper respect.
Eddie: Mr. Thompson is part of everything, he is in the sky and sea... (Nucky gives him a bewildered look) He is in the dreams of children at night. He is all that there is... forever.
- Willie Thompson, attempting to impress a college girl, tries to persuade Mickey Doyle to sell him booze. Doyle laughs him off, and Willie steals a crate...only to get caught. Doyle chews him out and even slaps him, then realizes exactly who's son he just hit...then attempts to laugh it off, and even tells him to the take the booze.
- It seemed more like he was taking pity on the kid and deciding to just let him have the stuff just once.
- The day after cancelling a deal with Florida land baron August Tucker that Bill McCoy had brokered (and that leaves Tucker furious with McCoy), Nucky phones McCoy to tell him that he has reconsidered and will buy Tucker's land after all. The distressed McCoy hangs up and sits on a chair next to Tucker's body, lying on the floor with a machete sunk in his head.
- After van Alden/"Mueller" delivers the flowers to the hospital, the Capones take exception to their rather bedraggled state:
Van Alden: Mr. O'Banion meant no disrespect.
Al Capone: The man's sick. How else is he supposed to take it, huh?
*Jake is unconcernedly eating his lunch*
- The Capones and van Alden have come across a possible easy heist:
Van Alden: It may just be a bread truck.
Al Capone: I may be kinda hungry.
- Van Alden telling Capone that he has a sense of humor. For someone who watched the show from the beginning, this is hilarious.
- During a debrief of the BoI: "Nucky, Mickey, Lolly? Where's Flopsy and Mopsy?
- Meyer's Truth in Television account of how he and Charlie Luciano met:
Meyer: One day on my way to school, I got stopped by a gang of older boys. The leader said he wanted my lunch money. I told him to go fuck himself. He laughed, said he'd beat it out of me, so I spit in his face. He did beat me, they all did, and they took my money. Next day, same thing. I spit in his face and then we fought. The third day, the kid asked me to join his gang. The kid was Charlie Luciano, and that's how we teamed up.
- Eddie has been arrested, and has been asked about his pistol:
Agent: You had a pistol up your sleeve.
Eddie: That is for protection.
Agent: Against who?
- Van Alden describes being outnumbered as a "numerically disadvantaged situation".
- There is something disturbingly funny about Margaret's face when Nucky accidentally reminds her of Owen by saying "I wouldn't put something alive in a box".
- Eli's face when he poses as Eddie in the bank.
- The exchange between J. Edgar Hoover and George Remus.
- Richard and Julia go to get a marriage license, where the sign that hunting licenses are given in the same office is funny enough. Then Julia asks if he's nervous, and Richard replies "It's just a hunting license."
- Nucky and Rothstein's entire discussion about having Mickey killed. "I know ten guys who'd kill Mickey for free."
Nucky: So what are you waiting for? Kill him.
Rothstein: At the very least, I wanted to extend you the courtesy of obtaining your permission.
Nucky: Do I get a cut?
- Sigrid keeps nagging Van Alden (who is under a lot of pressure) about their Sears and Roebuck house being faulty. Eventually, he has enough, and when she asks him whether he called Sears and Roebuck, he responds:
Van Alden: Yes, yes, I did. I spoke to Mr. Roebuck himself. He apologized profusely and told me he would send a dozen of his top men over immediately to remedy the situation to our total satisfaction.
Sigrid: Really? This is true?
- Mickey asks if Nucky has seen The Thief of Baghdad, to which Nucky asks "You have time to go to the pictures?" Mickey sputters for a few seconds about not having it, then just leaves.
- Margaret (in her new job assisting at the stock market) is talking to Rothstein alone about helping him take advantage of her boss' attempt to con him, and when she mentions she's nervous, Rothstein tells her not to worry, because he's a married man. She exclaims "You must be joking!" in quite a loud voice. Rothstein assures her he is joking, but still seems rather taken aback by the vehemence of her reaction. While we've seen him get angry on a few rare occasions, this is the first time he's looked honestly bemused.
- Chalky's new "friend" holding him at gunpoint and demanding to know how telephones work.
- Mr. Bennett's suicide is quite morbidly hilarious, ranting and raving about a Mickey Mouse short and screaming "Everything's going to be fine!" just before shooting himself.
- Eli's troubles with an old woman's feathered hat in an elevator.
- Eli and Van Alden rob a couple of Al Capone's men. It doesn't go down smoothly, and both Capone henchmen end up being shot and wounded. The two prepare to walk off with the satchel, but then, hearing an 'L' train approaching, Eli doubles back and shoots the two henchmen in the head. As they finally leave, Van Alden shouts "Why must it always be pandemonium?!"
- Mickey's back to his metaphor failure:
Nucky: They told the Indians they could keep Oklahoma.
Mickey: How'd they get involved in this?
- Mickey refilling a bottle of the "good stuff" after Nucky refuses the drinks he offered, because Kennedy Sr. wanted a soda.
Mickey: (to the bartender) Whoa, Madame Curie. Give me that!
- Nucky's reaction when he thinks that Margaret was Rothstein's mistress.
Margaret: (annoyed) Not that! Why does everyone assume...
- After Luciano identifies Van Alden as a federal agent, Al Capone interrogates him at gunpoint. Van Alden responds in his usual deadpan mannner.
Al: You think I'm stupid?
Van Alden: No successful man is stupid.
Al: Are you successful?
Van Alden: Not really.
Van Alden: I get the feeling my boss doesn't like me.
- Eli and June's dinner with Van Alden and Sigrid is a squirm-inducing joy from start to finish, with Sigrid's utter frustration and resentment at what her life has become boiling over at the most inconvenient time.
- Van Alden on his son playing the flute: "Chester, that would sound better much further away."
- A nice bit of Hypocritical Humor:
Van Alden: (to Eli) I, for one, refuse to be ruled by fear.
Van Alden: (jumping to his feet) Coming, dear!
- Just when Sigrid reveals that she and Eli had sex, the police arrive and take Van Alden and Eli into custody. In custody, Eli tries to explain himself:
Eli: The event you're thinking about? That was an accident. Plain and simple.
Van Alden: You mean like a streetcar hitting a horse? A man getting his head crushed in a metal press? A gas explosion in which bystanders are literally torn limb from limb? That's what your having sexual relations with my wife was like?
Eli: Look I don't know about you, but my life is a fucking shipwreck.
Van Alden: Well, land ho.
- After Van Alden and Eli are caught trying to take Capone's ledger, they claim they were trying to rob him.
Mike D'Angelo: How did you geniuses get that idea?
Van Alden: My wife.
Mike D'Angelo: Your wife told you to rob Al Capone?
Van Alden: We're having trouble at home.
Eli: (raises his finger) I can vouch for that.
- Capone believes that Van Alden is an undercover federal agent... and that he has been one for the 8 years or so he has known him:
Capone: All this time? That shit, with the irons...?
- The Pity the Kidnapper plot with Benny Siegel, including Lucky assuming he's fooling around with a girl and hanging up on the ransom call, and Mickey discovering someone even more annoying than him.
- This includes poor Talia, who gets shoved to one side three times during Siegel's kidnapping.
- Benny's stirring rendition of "My Girl's Pussy" is a hilariously poignant highlight. Perpetual irritant Mickey Doyle's reaction is brilliantly ironic: "Will somebody shut him the fuck up?!?"
- Eli getting a package from Nucky. In it is a ton of money plus a shaving brush and razor blade. Eli staring at the brush and blade quizzically just caps it off.
- Capone being distraught not just that Mike D'Angelo was an undercover fed, but that he was actually Irish.