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The British classic Coupling has how to construct a joke.


  • There are several episodes in which a primary joke runs the entire time (or at least is repeatedly mentioned) only to come to an hilarious (and sometimes expected, but never enough to ruin the joke) climax. Other examples of this would be the episodes ending in "I am Giselle!" and "Ohhh... Jeffrey!"
  • Jeff's basically a walking CMOF. His ability to blurt out the most incredible craziness and shock his [very] open friends is simply amazing. His reveal with Steve at the Sperm clinic was gut busting, not to mention his explanation of suffering 'lower whiplash'. Or the scene immediately following the captain subtext scene where his subconscious spoke only in one- or two-word exclamations like "Cleft. Gusset. Bicycle saddle", only to keep doing it after the 'auto-translate' was disabled. Or unintentionally stripping totally nude while dancing in front of all his colleagues and his mother! Or:
    Steve: You're choking the chicken.
    Patrick: You're strangling the python.
    Jeff: You're shaking the caravan, Jeffrey. (cue stares) Sorry, it got away from me a bit there. Family holidays, eh? God they went on a bit, didn't they?
    • In a similar vein, when he gets a bit caught out in acting out his embarrassing moments from childhood, "Jeffery, Jeffery, you're vibrating the light fittings!" But really any of his moments of Digging Himself Deeper could probably count.
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    • In particular, the Bucket of Ears ramble (former Trope Namer for Digging Yourself Deeper, no less). Completely brilliant lunacy.
    • This happens so much that there's a moment where Jeff isn't present, but James, thinking that Susan is familiar to him, comments that "For some reason I'm seeing you in a nurse's uniform." Steve replies "Thank you Jeff, that will be all!" When the others stare at him, he says "He's not here, is he? Oh God, I've internalized him..."
    • When Jeff and Julia are bonding over how terrible they both are at talking to people they like, Jeff says "I'm full of sperm!" (Wow, it's no wonder the show only lasted one season after Richard Coyle left, is it?)


Series 1

  • "Sex, Death and Nudity":
    Jane: Isn't that [eating before a funeral] a little unusual?
    Muriel: I'm hungry now. Anyway, I never liked the bitch.
    • and later... rather smugly...
    Muriel: (Turns to coffin) Sausage roll, Margaret? (Beat) Oh, no, you're dead.
  • "Inferno": Steve hilariously trying to explain the complex plot of "Lesbian Spank Inferno", culminating in a massive rant detailing how the entire history of human achievement was all in order for men to get a better look at women's bottoms.
    "And frankly ladies, I'm not sure how offended you really ought to be."
  • "The Girl With Two Breasts". There are several laugh-out-loud moments through the episode, but the entire episode is just one great big lead-up to the line "Sorry... I was expecting Shadayim."
    • The moment when the episode rewinds and switches the language and Jeff talks in made-up Italian-ish is utterly brilliant.
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  • "The Cupboard of Patrick's Love" has another classic Jeff tangent: During a discussion about nudity on television, he reveals that the connotation between television and nudity when he was a child led to him becoming aroused whenever it was switched on ("Even if it was just the news or Doctor Who") and that one afternoon he "lost control" in front of his whole family and "completely wrote off the television".
    Steve: Sorry... so you're telling us that, as a young child and despite the obvious electrical dangers, you sexually assaulted the television set? During Songs Of Praise?
    Patrick: Is... is that what happened to your hair?

Series 2

  • This line from "The Girl With Two Legs":
    Jeff: I've got the keys to the gates of paradise...but I've got too many legs.
  • "Her Best Friend's Bottom":
    • Patrick's story about unwittingly dating twins for a month. Not only were they not pretending to be the same person - "I kept wondering when she ate, when she slept! Why she kept changing her name!" - they weren't even identical twins!
    • A chain of three — the "Captain Subtext" scene leads to Steve's rant on the mysterious nature of cushions, which leads to Susan's one line defusing of the whole thing;
    Steve: I'll show you. [flips the cushion over in his hands, and holds it up to Susan] What... is this?
    Susan: It's a cushion.
    Steve: Right. Yes. It's a cushion. Thank you for that, very informative. [holds the cushion up to Jeff] You got any of these?
    Jeff: [shakes head] No.
    Steve: 'Course you haven't! [snaps fingers and points to junior sales assistant] You. You married? Living with anyone?
    Junior shop assistant: No.
    Steve: Got any of these?
    Junior shop assistant: No.
    Steve: 'Course not! [snaps his fingers again and points to Susan] You- you bring these things into our homes. They, they, [throws cushion onto a sofa] they sit on our chairs! They watch our televisions! Now, [stammers] I just need to know - on behalf of all men, everywhere, I just... need to ask... please... what are they for!? [Susan looks bewildered] I mean look at them! [grabs two cushions from another sofa] Look at the chubby little bastards [drops the cushions again] just sitting around everywhere, I mean, what are they?! Pets for chairs!? [Susan looks even more bewildered; Steve confronts the senior shop assistant] Come on! You sell them!
    Junior shop assistant: Well...
    Senior shop assistant: [gives Steve a Disapproving Look] You sit on them.
    Steve: Ah! [laughs mockingly] Ah, see, that's where you're wrong. Nobody sits on them. Okay - watch this. [walks over to the first sofa and grabs the cushion] Here's the cushion - I'm putting it on the sofa. [does so] Now - watch me. I'm sitting down... and what do I do on my final approach? [as he sits down, he...] I - OOH! MOVE THE CUSHION! D'you see!? It- it's not involved! It's not part of the whole sitting process, it just... lies there! It's... it's fat litter! It's a sofa parasite!
    Jane: [holding up a frilly hot pink cushion] It's... [pats the cushion] you know... padding!
    Steve: Padding! [stands up and walks around behind the sofa] Oh, now, that's interesting! See- I-I-I like padding. You know, if I was, say, er... an American football player, y'know, all those big bastards running at me, I'd say, you know, "Give me some of that padding and be quick about it!" You know, if my job involved... bouncing down jagged rocks, [the senior sales assistant is visibly sick of Steve's rant; the junior is just confused] I would say... [puffs his cheeks] "In view of those jagged rocks down there, I'll have some of that padding, thank you very much." [pointing to each of the three women in turn] But Susan, Sally, Jane, this... is a sofa! It is designed by clever scientists in such a way so as to shield the unprotected user from the risk of... skin abrasions, serious head trauma, and of course!... [suddenly drops to the floor, then pokes his head over the back] Daleks! [Jane and Jeff can't help laughing; Susan looks ever angrier] You looked! [points between Susan, Sally, and Jane again] Trust me, girls! Trust me on this one! You do not need [holds up cushion again] padding to tackle upholstery! [marches over to Susan] So please, once and for all, tell me: why on Earth you would want me to sit on one of these?!
    Susan: [her own anger boiling over] Because, if you pressed it firmly against your bottom it might stop you talking!
    Steve: [Beat] I saw Sally naked.
  • "The Melty Man Cometh", Patrick's interactions with "The Melty Man", the mental, Darth Vader-esq, Anthropomorphic Personification of The Loins Sleep Tonight, moments before he's about to consumate his relationship with Sally. He is encountering "problems", until it's revealed it's all due to his repressed, genuine feelings for her...
    Patrick: What? I care for her? That's what all this is about? It's just because I like her?
    The Melty Man: You didn't know that?
    Patrick: No!
    The Melty Man: Oh ... bugger.
  • "Jane and the Truth Snake": After being sacked from her job as a traffic reporter for convincing drivers to take a moment of meditation while driving Jane gets an idea that she will become a children's show host. She then develops the character of Jake the Truth Snake who is willing to tell the truth about everyone, including Jane. Leading to her having an argument with her own right hand.
  • "Dressed",
    • Jane is invited over to a guy's apartment and thinks it will just be the two of them, so she wears a trenchcoat with nothing underneath, and when it turns out all his friends are there, Jane has to make excuses to keep her coat on, she desperately tries to get a little girl to steal a dress for her by giving her the coat which fails miserably and hilariously, then Jane finally gives up and casually walks in front of the guy and his friends while completely naked, puts on another coat and leaves, her complete lack of embarrassment and the guy's reactions is what really sells it.
    • Steve explains to the bartender the "Understanding" he has with Susan.
    Bartender: Have you actually told her that you're gonna marry her?
    Steve: In my own way...
    Bartender: Your own way?
    Steve: She accidentally overheard me saying it on the phone, when I thought I was talking to my ex-girlfriend.
    Bartender: No offense, and, of course, it's none of my business, but that could be the worst proposal in human history.
    Sally: Steve, you're gonna have to be my husband. Patrick prefers blondes!
    Bartender: I love this bar!
  • "Naked":
    • The scene where Julia tells the girls about an encounter she had in the stationary cupboard with Jeff. We see a flashback that leads to a very awkward kiss, with Jeff rather cruelly criticising her breath, her teeth, etc. Julia then clarifies that it was an Imagine Spot, explaining why she didn't kiss him. We then cut to Jeff's own Imagine Spot of what he thought would happen, which we just know will be more extreme. And it doesn't disappoint:
    Patrick: That's what you thought would happen if you kissed her?
    Steve: You think if you kiss a woman, your mother will emasculate you with a miniature guillotine?
    • Julia blindfolds Jeff and leads him into what was supposed to be a surprise birthday party. Jeff, getting the wrong idea entirely, starts doing a striptease in front of his colleagues, friends, and parents...which is followed by his first sexual encounter in the series.

Series 3

  • "Split" has another classic Jeff moment:
    Jeff: Jenny Turbot....the worst phone call I ever made. It was my final year at school and there she was — Jenny Turbot. It was like she came to life, like, from one of my magazines, as if all the candles and chanting had finally worked. I'd never seen a woman that gorgeous fully dressed. Clothes looked wrong on her somehow. As if she'd developed a fault. I fell completely in love with her. Totally. I knew she was the one. Everyone else called her the school bike, said she would put out for absolutely anyone...but it wasn't just that. And I got her number, right? It took me ages but I got it. I remember it was on a little scrap of paper. The Turbot's actual phone number! That little scrap of paper gave me the best time of my life. A month of complete sexual bliss. In the end, I had to phone her before it fell apart. She knew who I was! She remembered me. No one ever remembered me, but the Turbot, she remembered. And we were just chatting away, and it was easy, and I just asked her out, I just did it. An actual date.
    Patrick: So what went wrong?
    Jeff: Well, her ex suddenly turns up again doesn't he? Barry. Barry the Bastard. Before you know it they're shagging away like maniacs. I kept asking her out, obviously. I pleaded. But she was too busy with all the endless shagging. So, in the end, I just had to hang up.
    Steve: She was having sex with the guy while you were still on the phone?
    Jeff: Actually, I think the phone was involved.
    Steve: Oh dear God.
    Jeff: That was as close as I got to Jenny Turbot: I was a sex aid for her and Barry the Bastard. I counted it as half a point.
  • "The Freckle, the Key and the Couple Who Weren't" has Jeff running into the bar, having just bought a large amount of laxatives. After giving his friends an explanation for how he swallowed something of Julia's (the keys to her handcuffs), Steve alerts him to the fact that he's still wearing a gimp mask:
    Jeff: I suppose, thinking about it, this is why they were so helpful at the chemist's. And crying. And didn't charge me.
  • "The Girl With One Heart" has Steve's monumental Bathroom-as-Fortress-of-Solitude explanatory effort.
    Steve: We are men! Throughout history, we have always needed, in times of difficulty, to retreat to our caves. It so happens that in this modern age, our caves are fully plumbed. The toilet is, for us, the last bastion, the final refuge, the last few square feet of man-space left to us! Somewhere to sit, something to read, something to do, and who gives a damn about the smell? Because that, for us, is happiness. We are men. We are different. We have only one word for soap. We do not own candles. We have never seen anything of any value in a craft shop. We do not own magazines full of photographs of celebrities with all their clothes on. When we have conversations, we actually take it in turns to talk. We have not yet reached that level of earth-shattering boredom and inhuman despair where we would have a haircut recreationally. We do not know how to get excited about really really boring things, like ornaments, bath oil, the countryside, vases, small churches. I mean, we do not even know what, WHAT in the name of God's arse is the purpose of potpourri. Looks like breakfast, smells like your auntie. Why do we need that? So please, in this strange and frightening world, allow us one last place to call our own. This toilet, this blessed pot, this... fortress of solitude. You girls, you may go to the bathroom in groups of two or more. Yet we do not pass comment. We do not make judgment. That is your choice. But we men will always walk the toilet mile... alone.
  • "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps" has Jane running into the bar with a negative pregnancy test. "I'm not pregnant! It's a miracle! I have shagged and shagged and shagged, and all the little bastards missed!"

Series 4

  • "9 1/2 Minutes",
    Steve: Jeff, calm down. Jeff, just listen, okay. Three things. One, you should not be using your mobile phone on a plane. Two, the name of the island is pronounced Lesbos. [beat] Yeah, well that was fairly optimistic of you, wasn't it. Three, the behaviour of breast implants at altitude isn't a subject I can claim great knowledge on. [beat] Yeah, I'm fairly sure you can't raise it with a complete stranger. [beat] No, whatever danger you think she's in. [beat] No Jeff, not even with the people in "shrapnel range"! Okay, look, I'm going to hang up now. [beat] Because I don't want to endanger a planeload of innocent passengers by prolonging a conversation about the hazards of breast inflation.
    • Jane has been matched with someone on a dating service and is supposed to meet them in the bar, and she jumps to the wrong conclusion when she sees her gynaecologist there. She tells Steve and Susan about this, only to then meet her actual date Oliver, who runs a sci-fi bookshop. Jane introduces him to them without getting the chance to set the record straight. Steve, following on from an earlier conversation with Susan involving pregnancy and Alien, asks Oliver his opinion on the John Hurt scene. Oliver tells them that's what got him into his business in the first place.
  • "Bed Time" has Susan finding out that Jane and Sally have a song making fun of her complete with dance routine, "Susan The Happy Trotting Elf". Which Sally later performs, after misunderstanding a suggestion from Susan.
  • "Circus of the Epidurals": Everybody ends up at Susan's ante-natal class, which ends up being led by Jill, the therapist from "Inferno". All of the call backs to that episode were hilarious (even the extras in the background were laughing).
    Jill: I understand Jennifer is happy for friends and relatives of the couple to come along to this session, and I'm happy too. As long as it doesn't develop into some kind of... [sees Steve and recognizes him] Lesbian Spank Inferno.
    Susan: I thought you were a therapist.
    Jill: I moved on from therapy after your friend Jane. [...] I knew then to get out of therapy and never find myself in the same room as that woman and her pathetic delusions again.
    [Jane enters, with a pillow on her stomach, pretending to be pregnant]
    Jill: [to Jane] Well, you seem healthy. So much for Voodoo.
  • In "The Naked Living Room", Patrick's Bad Liar moment after he accidentally tells Steve he slept with Jane (after denying it three episodes earlier).
    Steve: Patrick, I know you. You can't keep a lie like this going!
    Patrick: Course I can. Damnit!
    Steve: Look, when did this happen?
    Patrick: What, the lying or the sleeping with Jane? Damnit!!
  • In the finale, "9 1/2 Months" Patrick's attempts to keep Sally from watching his sex tape with Jane. First he locks his video cupboard and removes the tape. It takes her a second to deduce that he locked the tape outside the cupboard. Then she finds it in the video player where he was going to tape over it — but forgot to press record. The she demands to look in the cupboard in case there's a second tape. He tells her that as soon he heard her coming he locked the cupboard and threw the key out the window. She points out that since the cupboard is always kept locked, he actually unlocked it.
    Patrick: Look Sally I'm trying to think on my feet here!
    Sally: I know! It's like watching a whale knit!


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