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Corpsing / Live-Action TV

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Corpsing in live-action TV.



Game Shows

  • Roy Walker and a male contestant famously couldn't keep a straight face during the "Snake Charmer" puzzle on Catch Phrase. It's made even funnier if you watch the full version of that scene and see that the female contestant genuinely has no idea what they're laughing at.
  • The question writers of the UK game show The Chase frequently make the presenter Bradley Walsh try desperately not to burst into laughter with the immature multiple-choice questions they get him to read out. For instance, one such question was "In what sport did Fanny Chmelar compete for Germany?". Witness the results here.
    • Bradley, in turn, sometimes tries to corpse the Chasers. It was, however, a contestant who got Shaun Wallace to break character. Seen here.
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    • Then there was this moment of corpsing, where the contestant was the only one keeping it together for long enough to call an advert break.
    • And of course Bradley made himself corpse on occasion.
    • Watch a compilation here.
  • Family Feud, with its often off-the-cuff answers, tends to provoke this response from many hosts.
    • A famous incident during the Richard Dawson years was during the Lightning Round. When asked the question During what month does a woman begin to look pregnant?, the contestant, visibly panicking, answered "September", which was so unexpected it caused Dawson to break down laughing long enough that they had to stop the clock. He managed to recover, only to break down again (this time so much he had to kneel down to try to contain his fits of laughter) when repeating the question to the next contestant.
    • Richard probably never guessed an answer of "mutual friends" would have him on the floor in laughter.
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    • The tradition continues as Steve Harvey has also been shown to break down in bouts of laughter every once in a while when a contestant says something outrageous for an answer. On Late Night, Steve even said that one answer made him laugh on the floor for 15 minutes straight, but most of it had to obviously be cut due to time constraints.
  • Given the clue writers' affinity for puns and shout-outs, it's not unusual to hear Alex Trebek crack a laugh when reading a clue on Jeopardy! There have also been instances where he has done this when interviewing the contestants. One notable example is when a contestant said that she had a goat who died by eating a bag of Quikrete; Alex asked whether it was a 60-pound or 80-pound bag, the contestant snarked "Alex, you're being insensitive!" and Alex laughed so hard that he turned to the next contestant (the returning champion, who already had at least one chat with him) and said "I don't wanna talk to you!"
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  • A game of Password Plus stars Dick Martin and Betty White. Dick gives the clue "France" for "French", and host Tom Kennedy points out the illegal clue before introducing the next puzzle. It goes downhill from there.
  • The December 5, 1986 telecast of The $25,000 Pyramid had host Dick Clark playfully pressuring celebrity player Vicki Lawrence to pick the category hiding the Mystery 7 card as the prize it offered was a new car. Vicki turns to him and deadpans "You're just really being a (deleted) today, aren't you?'' Dick was looking for a place to hide but tried to regain his composure as Vicki selected the category "Loosen Up." When Dick read what the category was about—"Things that are stiff"—Vicki corpsed so hard she was crying. Dick fared no better.
  • Any attempt at maintaining composure was futile in the $10,000 Pyramid show where Tony Randall was a celebrity player. After a commercial break, Dick Clark commented on how well Tony knows the game and asked what is the one thing you don't do. Tony: "You don't say shit!" (This was a broadcast master that's on YouTube; it was obviously altered for TV).
  • Anne Robinson, the unflappable host of The Weakest Link, suffered a few facial twitches during a celebrity edition when Rob Schneider mentioned that he'd like to find out who "the sexy link" was, and stating his belief that: "Anne, I think it's you." Later, when voted off, Rob rushes the podium and wraps Anne in a giant bear hug, lifting her and spinning her around. Any semblance of a straight face is immediately lost.
    • Especially impressive given that Anne managed to keep a completely stoic expression before, during, and after being passionately kissed by William Shatner in an ad-libbed Captain Kirk shout out.
    • They also had one episode with all hairdressers; the contestants were basically eight blokes and one Dumb Blonde. The men all voted each other out for tactical reasons - or because they fancied the blonde - while Blondie was pretty much continually stupid. Until she pinched a victory from nowhere on the head-to-head showdown. Anne was visibly struggling to keep it together by the end.
    • On the WWE Edition when Trish Stratus was asked a question about Richard Nixon, she replied "I'm from Canada, I don't know" and a few chuckles from Anne seep through when she's trying to continue.
  • The introduction to the game show Win, Lose or Draw usually had the host (Vicki Lawrence on NBC daytime, Bert Convy on syndication nighttime) reveal caricatures of that day's celebrity guests during the intro. While listing off said celebrities, announcer Bob Hilton would frequently break into fits of laughter as each caricature was revealed. Bob was also prone to this on the roadshow episodes, particularly if Convy's intro went awry (such as an episode taped in Central Park where the horse pulling the hansom cab with Convy on it refused to go through the gate, or another where Convy fell in the water when trying to exit the boat that brought him on-set).

Panel Shows

  • QI - Any number of guests have caused Stephen Fry to break down in helpless laughter. (For example, Stephen botches "They say of the Acropolis, where the Parthenon is" and none of the guests let him live it down.)
  • Several times on Whose Line Is It Anyway?. Most of the time, the four "players" and Drew are great at keeping straight faces, but sometimes you get moments like this.
    • Colin can sometimes set it off with a single word, such as "Tapioca!" or an already breaking down "Meow".
      • "Meow" gets special credit because not only did he get Wayne, Drew and Ryan to break, he even got Laura Hall playing the piano to crack, the music faltering and just stopping because she was laughing so hard.
    • So far, only three people have managed to get Colin to corpse: Robin Williams, Richard Simmons, and Colin himself.
      • The case where Colin got himself? A "Greatest Hits" where he said the following. The entire studio stopped cold for laughing.
        Ryan: We don't know what you're watching, so we're not gonna return you to it!
        Colin: We're watching animal porn! *beat and laughter* "Mary Had a Little Lamb" will be right back...
      • Ryan Stiles almost gets Colin to crack during a Let's Make a Date, with Colin having to take a second to get back into character because he's chuckling at Ryan.
    • A pure case of corpsing (in that he is actually meant to be a corpse) occurs for Drew in one of the outtakes.
      • Similarly, one sketch of "Three-headed Opera Star", in which each "head" sings one word, had Drew belt out "And take me on a- Oh, sorry, one word at a time." He was never able to regain his composure.
    • The two most common corpsing events involve Colin going off on tangents during the "Greatest Hits" as a spokesman with Ryan (Leading to such gems as the "Tapioca" outburst and "We're watching animal porn!" bit) and during the Irish Drinking Song skit where Colin was always the one to finish the song with a rhyme and does it in such a way that everyone else loses it, leaving him as the sole person literally standing.
    • Colin gets another one during Greatest Hits when Ryan asks him what bird says the name of their next band (meaning an owl, which says "who"). Colin's guess? Just watch. Everyone else on stage loses it for about a minute.
    • Ryan actually manages to break both Wayne Brady and Drew in an Irish Drinking song, though Colin's "Meow" broke him too.
      • Really, most Irish Drinking Songs end with most of the cast laughing—a direct consequence of Colin having the last line.
    • A round of Party Quirks ended up with Ryan accidentally breaking the neon light around Drew's desk with his head while playing Carol Channing (whose head keeps getting stuck to things). He stayed in character while asking if his head was bleeding and even managed to make Colin corpse.
    • In one game of Weird Newscasters, Colin cracked Drew by saying "This just in: Beverly Hills, 90210, Cleveland Browns 3."
    • One round of Sound FX obliterates Drew, leaving him in a fit of wheezing hysterics.
    • Ryan also had to turn around and hide his face several times during the infamous "The Cat" round of Improbable Mission.
    • Tony Slattery manages to get himself in the British version during a round of Hoe Down when the final line of his verse was set to be excessively risque even for him.
  • On one episode of Would I Lie to You?, David Mitchell had to claim he could no longer drink orange squash because it sent him "berserk". It took him four attempts to be able to even read the statement out straight-faced.

Talk Shows

  • Steve Allen trying to do a 30-second intro lasted over a minute because he kept howling with laughter. Allegedly he glanced at a monitor and noticed how puffy his hair was. "If only the script was this good!"
  • The Colbert Report's site has a video compilation for when he loses it on camera. (While there have been stories of "Munchma Quchi" being Colbert's mother-in-law, the claim has been proven to be false)
  • Stephen's follow-up, his tenure on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, still has plenty of breaking. Especially when Laura Benanti is involved, playing Melania Trump.
  • A segment on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart regarding a sex scandal involving Prince Charles produced one of the greatest corpses of all time between Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. A few of the more notable times involved the writers and other actors changing things up on Jon between rehearsal and recording (such as when John Oliver reads the names of Britain's Fallen Soldiers). Oliver starts cracking too when he gets to a soldier named "Incestishire".
  • Jon's replacement, Trevor Noah, has a tendency to snicker after running a news clip and cracking a joke, especially making ones about the Republican presidential candidates. He fully admits that sometimes his jokes aren't that funny, but he still finds them amusing.
  • The recurring Jimmy Kimmel Live! segment where celebrities read Mean Tweets gets reactions that can be put into the categories of dirty looks (like Jessica Alba and Cate Blanchett), responding in kind (like Elisabeth Moss and Larry David), playing along (like two of the other Jessicas - Biel and Chastain) or finding it amusing (like Lisa Kudrow and Kurt Russell)... or Corpsing like Ariana Grande. Most readers remain calm and collected but Ariana couldn't read that particular tweet without laughing hysterically. As you can see just from the still.
  • Given John Oliver was mentioned, Last Week Tonight frequently has the most ridiculous clips featured in the segments returning to John clearly stifling laughter. Also, his reaction to a crocodile puppet being called "alligator", and Kenny G as John complimented his sax playing.
  • The Brazilian version of Last Week Tonight once had a special guest to sing some complaints with an Incredibly Long Note. At points, she was clearly losing it.
  • One episode of Loose Women had the ladies complaining about their messy husbands. Brambles made a sly remark about McDonald's husband ("do you have to take him in hand?") which prompts the poor woman to burst out laughing, unable to continue for the next two minutes. Brambles even pulls out the tissues before they can go on. And "I did get the vac out" probably wasn't much better.
  • Today: Free Willard. Saying any more would ruin it.
  • The Tonight Show:
    • In the famous "Sis Boom Bah" joke from Carnac the Magnificent, Johnny and Ed can't keep a straight face before they deliver the joke. And who could blame them? Then they lose it completely after delivering the joke ("Describe the sound made when a sheep explodes").
    • Another sketch features Johnny and Joe Friday (Jack Webb) reviewing a case. The entire skit was designed solely to make Friday crack up. it finally happens at the end of this clip
    • In 1965, the record for longest continual laughter in live TV was definitely set thanks to Johnny's guest, actor/singer Ed Ames, who claimed that, in the course of his work, he had learned how to throw a tomahawk. Carson produced a human outline on a board, and Ames lobbed the tomahawk at it. It hit the board successfully but slammed in right at the figure's crotch, starting the thunderous laughter. When the laughter started to die down, Carson quipped "I didn't even know you were Jewish!" starting it all up again. (Even funnier still was Carson's follow-up remark: "Welcome to Frontier Bris!")
      • Adding to the hilarity, the tomahawk's handle was jutting up as if it was the figure's penis, and when a flustered Ames started to walk towards the target to pull out the tomahawk, Carson grabbed his arm and stopped him, barely stifling his own laughter as he realized how bad (and funny) it would look if Ames were to grab and pull on the figure's erection.
  • Ariana Grande performed "Thank U, Next" on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. During part of the routine that involved stepping down from a chair, she slipped on her heels and giggled through the next few lines of the song.

Reality Competitions

  • On Project Runway, the usually stoic Michael Kors memorably lost it during one runway show when a model did a super sexy pose at the end of her walk. Everyone else on set proceeds to crack up as well. This also happens frequently when a designer's look is being critiqued, with cuts to the other designers trying desperately to hold back church giggles.
  • On The X Factor, if the audition is mind-bendingly horrible, you can start to see the judges beginning to crack and lose their composure. Part of the reason that Cheryl Fernandez-Versini became so popular on the show was that during her first series as a judge, she absolutely could not keep a straight face and broke into giggling fits. She's gotten better at maintaining her composure, but she remains the one judge who was most likely to crack first.
    • In Series 11's Halloween show, one contestant, Andrea Faustini, painted himself gold and wore devil horns for the performance. Simon Cowell himself couldn't even find words to critique the performance because he was absolutely destroyed by laughing.

News and Sports

  • Happened on Anderson Cooper 360 during a "Ridiculist" segment talking about Gerard Depardieu peeing on a plane (as in peeing on the floor in the aisle of the plane). Anderson Cooper starts laughing uncontrollably after reading the many many puns. (In the subsequent episode, he puts himself on the Ridiculist for cracking up, then notes that he made it to pun 16 (out of 21) before he lost it.)
    • He did it again during a report on Dyngus Day. He held it together pretty well through all the mentions of Dyngus Day, but it seems like mentioning the use of Pussy Willow branches that set him off.
    • Colbert attempted to out-do him by reading off a list of celebrity name poop puns with a completely straight face. He made it all the way through the list. Then broke into laughter.
    • Wolf Blitzer lampshaded this one time while sitting in for Anderson. The Ridiculist for that episode referenced a friendly rivalry between the two anchors. Wolf said that one skill he had and Anderson lacked was an ability to say anything with a straight face. He then showed a Montage of Anderson corpsing. Then to illustrate his point, he rattled off a sentence consisting almost entirely of Inherently Funny Words, including the afore-mentioned Pussy Willows, as well as Lake Titicaca, all with a completely straight face.
  • Former ESPN SportsCenter anchor Charley Steiner was notorious for doing this on-air. His most infamous moment came when Carl Lewis' awful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner was shown on SportsCenter. After the clip was finished, the camera cut to Steiner, who looked as if he was ready to explode with laughter and struggled to even speak. (His co-anchor, to be fair, was losing it as well.)
  • At one point, during a Red Sox game airing on NESN, they went to a crowd shot as they were coming back from a mid-inning break. At one point, during the shot, one of the men reaches over and grabs the breast of the woman next to him. Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo immediately go quiet as the camera cuts back to play. Eventually, Orsillo, who's the play by play announcer, has to say what's going on, and cracks up halfway through the phrase "Called strike one". They then lean on the cough button more until Orsillo says, gasping for air, "This used to be a family show".
    • Steve Levy underwent a slow breakdown after mentioning a football player with a bulging disc in his neck (only, at first, he didn't say the word "disc", but something else), then struggling through the rest of the injury report. The co-anchor at the time, Keith Olbermann, later stated that Levy was actually the calmest person in the room; everyone else (Keith himself included) were completely losing it. Keith, by his own admission, wasn't any help; he set Steve off further by mentioning that first player's injury again.
    • The duo that hosts the Brazilian Sportscenter has many moments losing it, mostly whenever an Unfortunate Name or badly thought phrase appears. And it's always Contagious Laughter. (in an interview - where, with reason, their intro music was "Make Them Laugh" - they added the corpsing is not helped by the cameramen doing silly stuff and laughing).

Other

  • Quite often during the presenter interludes on CBBC (BBC children's television) this is often because of mistakes made by other presenters or puppeteers, or unrehearsed lines, especially the puppeteer of 'Hacker. T. Dog' as seen in one of the funniest links made in CBBC history.
  • Terry Wogan and his successor Graham Norton allowed themselves opportunities to have a good laugh at the many zany contestants in the Eurovision Song Contest. One notable example was Wogan needing a few minutes to pull himself together after Guildo Horn's infamous performance for Germany in 1998.
    • For an in-act example, Jorgen Olsen of the Olsen Brothers let a giggle slip while performing Danish winner "Fly on the Wings of Love" and was still snickering a bit into the second verse.
  • This clip from a Belgian sketch show is all about corpsing. A talk show host is interviewing people who have had operations go wrong, including a woman in a wheelchair and a man who had his tonsillectomy botched. Unfortunately, the procedure affected his vocal cords, giving him an extremely high-pitched voice. The host desperately attempts to keep it together as the man tells his sad story, only to repeatedly break down in laughter whenever he talks. The high-voiced man is offended, but whenever he tries to complain, the host only laughs more. Finally, a man from the audience decides to speak up in protest...it turns out that a botched operation gave him a deep, gravelly voice. Cue the host completely losing all composure and shaking with laughter.
  • Dagmar Berghoff had joked beforehand "should I say 'WC' instead of 'WTC tournament'?" Oops.
  • In the late 70s, Atlanta TV station WATL had a kid's show called Officer Don and Orvil (the latter being a puppet dragon) and often Orvil (Terry Kelley) would crack something that would cause Officer Don (Don Kennedy) to corpse or just burst out laughing. This goes back to their days on The Popeye Club, which aired on WSB there in the 60s.


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