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Funny / Fawlty Towers

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"A Touch of Class"

  • Basil kisses Sybil on the cheek to distract her:
    Sybil: What are you doing?
    Basil: I'm kissing you dear.
    Sybil: (gives him a suspicious, confused look) Well don't.
  • The way Basil shakes his fist at the flower pot at the end is epically funny, every single time.
  • The running gag with the painting and Mr. Wareing who keeps trying to order his drinks coming together after the chaos is over. Fawlty, dejected that he's scared off his high class guests, finally tries to hang up Sybil's painting, only for Mr. Wareing to come in and loudly demand his drink. Basil snaps, smashes the picture on the floor, and frog-marches him back into the bar.

"The Builders"

  • Basil gets tired of O'Reilly bringing up the Good Lord:
    O'Reilly: If the Good Lord—
    Basil: mentioned once more I shall move you closer to him!
  • Basil and Polly's argument about whose fault is O'Reilly's screwup:
    Polly: You hired O'Reilly!
    Basil: Oh, I see, it's my fault, is it? Oh, of course. There I was thinking it was your fault because you'd been left in charge, or Manuel's for not waking you, and all the time, it was my fault! Oh, it so obvious now, I've seen the light! Well, I must be punished then, mustn't I? (Basil starts smacking his own backside) You're a naughty boy, Basil! (Basil starts hitting his head) Don't do it again!"
    • Even before that:
    Polly: It's not my fault! He forgot to wake me!
    Basil: Who forgot to wake you?!
    Polly: ...It is my fault.
    Basil: MANUEL!
  • When Basil calls and says it's him, Manuel thinks he's someone asking to talk with Basil, and gets increasingly frustrated until he waves the phone around to demonstrate that Basil's not there. And then throws the phone over the counter in panic once he gets it.
  • Basil instructing Manuel to insult one of the builders as petty revenge for Manuel taking so long to get he's the one calling.
    Manuel: Si, si, man with beard! *to the builders* Who is man with beard? *the builder with a beard walks over* Hid... ag... Oh, ang, ang. Si, si comprando. Si, one moment please. *to the builder* You are a "hideous orangutang!" *PUNCH!!*
    Basil: Thank you Manuel, that will be all.
    • That whole scene is just gold, Manuel trying to greet them, and keeps pronouncing the name wrong — "You men with Orraly!"
    Worker (After another informs that he means O'Reilly): Yes, that's right. We are Orraly men! (under his breath) Thick as a plank...
  • When Sybil freaks out and attacks O'Reilly with an umbrella.
    Sybil: You think I'm joking, don't you? (O'Reilly smiles)
    Basil: Oh no, don't smile. (turns away, covering his face)
    Sybil: Why are you smiling, Mr. O'Reilly?
    O'Reilly: Well, to be perfectly honest Mrs Fawlty, I like a woman with spirit.
    Sybil: Oh do you, is that what you like?
    O'Reilly: I do, I do!
    Sybil: Oh good. (hangs up her jacket and grabs an umbrella from the basket)
    Basil: Now Sybil, that's enou- (Sybil bats him away with the umbrella, then sets about O'Reilly with it)
    Sybil: Come on then, give us a smile!
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  • "I'll call O'Reilly, you go and see if the roof's still on." [...] (to O'Reilly) "Oh, up to your usual standard I suppose, the odd hole in the floor, the odd door missing but nothing you can't be sued for!"
  • "No, no, I don't want a debate about it, Mr. O'Reilly. If you're not over here in 20 minutes with my door, I shall come down there and insert a large garden gnome in you. Good day." And at the end of the episode, that's exactly what he leaves to do. "And then I might go to Canada..."
  • When trying to get Manuel to understand that he’s looking for the boss, the builder uses the term Generalissimo. Manuel replies “In Madrid.”
    • The Catalonian dub is arguably funnier, since it aired ten years later, so the response was changed to “Dead.”

"The Wedding Party"

  • Sybil takes over:
    Basil (to Sybil) I fought in the Korean War, you know. I killed four men.
    Sybil: (to guests checking in) He was in the Catering Corps. He used to poison them.
  • The entire 'batteries' scene.
    • "I know what people like you get up to and I think it's disGUSting."
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    • Sybil's obnoxious laugh, for which Basil apologizes.
    Basil: Her finishing school was bombed.
    • This exchange:
      Basil: (pokes head into office) They're going!
      Sybil: What?
      Basil: They're going! (runs off)
    • Basil's considerable discomfort with the French woman trying to seduce him.
    Mrs. Peignoir: Ah, Mr. Fawlty, I shall sleep au natural tonight.
    Basil: ...uh, good idea.
    Mrs. Peignoir: But it is not so much fun on your own...
    Basil: Oh, well, one can always pretend...
    • Afterward, when talking to Sybil and hastily trying to explain who could be knocking at their door.
    Basil: Probably some key who forgot the guest to their door.
    Guest: Is the room airy?
    Basil: There's air in it.
  • After getting a good look at one of Polly's risque drawings (and cleavage), Basil picks up the phone and absent-mindedly says "Fawlty Titties".

"Hotel Inspectors"

  • Mr. Hutchinson asks Basil if the hotel has a table tennis table - the reply is priceless (and was cited by John Cleese as a personal favorite line of his):
    Basil: Indeed we do. It is not ... in absolutely mint condition. But it certainly could be used in an emergency.
  • The ending.
    "Good afternoon, gentlemen. And what can I do today for you three gentlemen? (Beat) AAAAH-!!!!"
  • Basil uses flash cards to direct Manuel to take suitcases to room 7... and Manuel promptly uses one to say "OK". Cleese looks honestly surprised, too.
    Basil: He thinks 'boff' is a locale.
  • Basil's bawling when he believes that he's blown it with a hotel inspector.

"Gourmet Night"

  • The famous scene when Basil's car breaks down and he starts screaming hysterically at it before running off-screen... only to return to hit it with a tree branch repeatedly.
    "Right! That's it! I'm going to give you a damn good thrashing!"
    • The funniest part is when Basil gets in the car and goes crazy, he doesn't turn the key.
    • The UK company Corgi is well-known for its die-cast models of movie and TV cars. When it put out a model of Basil's Austin 1100, of course the car had an accompanying figurine of Basil about to give it a good thrashing.
    • Word of God is that it took forever to find just the right kind of tree branch for the scene, too.
    • The scene is also a Take That! to British Leyland, the manufacturer of the Austin 1100 that Basil hits with the branch.
    • The scene was remade in 2016, in an advert made for the British opticians Specsavers. The advert ends with the elderly Basil Fawlty, whose eyesight is failing, mistakenly giving the car of two policemen a thrashing instead of his own car, which leads to him having to run away from the police, with the slogan "Should've gone to Specsavers".
  • Polly informing Basil that the chef is drunk:
    Polly: Mr. Fawlty, please put the bottle down.
    Basil: What is it?
    Basil: What is it?!
    Polly: Kurt is drunk!
    (Basil promptly drops the bottle)
  • Basil tells his wife that the chef is completely hammered on the evening of a very important dinner. Sybil expresses astonishment and incredulity.
    Basil: You're right. Maybe it's a dream.
    [Basil slams his head into the counter three times]
    Basil: ... Nope, it's not a dream, we're stuck with it.
  • Basil's argument with Ronald Heath, a Bratty Half-Pint who complains that the chips are in the wrong shape:
    Basil: What shape do you usually have? Mickey Mouse shape? Smarties shape? Amphibious landing craft shape? Poke in the eye shape?
    Ronald: God, you're dumb.
    Mrs. Heath Oh, now!
    Basil: Is there something we can get you instead, Sonny?
    Ronald: I'd like some bread and salad cream.
    Basil: To eat? Well, there's the bread, and there's the mayonnaise.
    Ronald: I said, "Salad cream," stupid.
    Basil: We don't have any salad cream. The chef made this freshly this morning.
    Ronald: What a dump.
    Mr. Heath This is very good.
    Mrs. Heath He likes salad cream.
    Ronald: That's puke, that is.
    Basil: At least, it's fresh puke.
    • Before that: "These eggs look like you laid them."
  • When one of the guests tells Polly that there is a hair in the mousse:
    Polly: Well don't talk too loud, everybody will want one!
    Guest: WHAT?!?!
  • Duck's off, sorry.
    Basil: Well, er, who`s for trifle?!

"The Germans"

  • The Major talking to Manuel, thinking he's the moose head. "How ah yoo, suh? I can speek Eenglish! I leehrn it from a booook."
    Major: Japanese, was it?
    Basil: ...Canadian I think, Major.
    Major: Good God, I didn't know Canadians were as clever as that!
    Basil: He's started early...
  • Practically any scene with The Major is hilarious, but he has one line that's so jaw-droppingly offensive, and delivered with such panache you can't help but die laughing. Such as his story about the time he took a girl to a cricket game:
    The Major: And the strange thing was... throughout the morning she kept referring to the Indians as niggers. No, no, no, I said. niggers are the West Indians. These people are WOGS! No, no, no she said, all cricketers are niggers!
    • Then he got to the punchline: "I wish I could remember her name... she's still got my wallet!"
  • Basil argues that he needs to go back to the hotel after having a concussion:
    Basil: Polly cannot cope!
    Sybil: Well she can't fall over waiters or get herself jammed under desks or start burglar alarms or lock people in burning rooms or fire fire-extinguishers straight in her own face, but I should think the hotel could do without that sort of coping for a couple of days, what do you think Basil?
  • Concussed Basil and the German tourists produces some lines for the annals:
    Basil: Well, I'll just get your hors d'oeuvres. Basil Fawlty: [German accent] Hors d'oeuvres... vich must be obeyed at all times vitout qvestion!
    • "Don't mention the war. I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it. So it's all forgotten now and let's hear no more about it. So that's two egg mayonnaise, a prawn Goebbels, a Herman Goering and four Colditz salads ... no, wait a minute ... I got a bit confused because everyone keeps mentioning the war."
    • "Will you stop talking about the war!": "Well, you started it!" "We did not start it!" "Yes, you did, you invaded Poland!"
    • Polly tries to stop Basil from imitating Hitler, to everybody's horror, Basil holds a finger underneath his nose and starts to shout in mock German anyway. She promptly makes herself scarce
      Basil: Wait! Wait! I'll do the funny walk!
  • "You speak German?" "Oh, German! Oh, I'm sorry, I thought there was something wrong with you!"
  • The fire drill — while suffering from a severe case of "Funny Aneurysm" Moment after the real-life hotel burned to the ground — is still one of the best scenes in the series. It starts with Basil setting off the burglar alarm while getting the key to the fire alarm, thus forcing everyone to believe the drill has begun; this leads to a debate over the time the drill is supposed to be and what the bell sounds like. Then Manuel starts a fire in the kitchen, and everybody else — even Basil — assumes it's only the drill, even after Basil sees a smoldering Manuel emerge from the kitchen.
    Manuel: IS FIRE! IS FIRE! IS FIRE! [Basil pushes him back into the flaming kitchen]
    • Also, Sybil's repeated phone calls to Basil while he's trying to put the moose's head up: "I was just doing it! I was just doing it you stupid woman! I just came over here to be reminded by you to do what I was already doing. I mean what is the bloody point of reminding me to do what I'm already doing, I'm doing it aren't I?"
      • The time Polly answers the phone:
    Polly: Hello, Fawlty Towers. Oh, hello Mrs. Fawlty—
    Polly: Yes, he says he's doing it now. How`s the nail?
    Basil: I wish it was this one. [Violently hammers the nail into the wall] There, tell the tyrant queen her cardies are safe forever. Mr Moose is up! It`s done, done, done.
    Polly It`s up. [it falls on Basil`s head] It`s down again.
    • "Would you like the hotel moved a bit to the left?"
    • "I wish it was an ingrowing tongue."
    • When Basil finally manages to get the alarm working, then turned off, the phone rings. Basil quickly picks it back up, screams "WE'RE HAVING IT!" and slams the receiver down.
    • The Major repeatedly insisting there are burglars about.
    • Then when he realises the hotel is on fire and is trying to smash the glass over the fire alarm button, Sybil rings again!
    Basil: <picks up receiver> Hello?! <smashes glass with receiver> Thank you! <hangs up>
    • After Basil finally gets everyone clear about the fire drill and what the bell sounds like, he announces that they'll be holding the actual drill in a few seconds. Everyone just stays in the lobby staring at him:
    Basil: ... What are you doing? I mean, are you all just going to stand there?
    Male Guest: What do you suggest?
    Basil: Well, couldn't one or two of you go into the bar and a few into the dining room, I mean, use your imaginations?
    Female Guest: [Confrontational] Why?
    Basil: Well, this is supposed to be a fire drill!
    Male Guest: There's only a few seconds.
    Basil: ... Right, right, well stay where you are, because obviously if there was a fire, you'd all be standing around like this in the lobby, wouldn't you?! I don't know why we bother, we should let you all burn.
  • Basil's snarky attitude towards Sybil's nurse. Gets even funnier when he's concussed and says right to her face that she's ugly.
    Basil: My God, you're ugly, aren't you?
    Sybil: Basil?
    Nurse: I'll get the doctor.
    Basil: You need a plastic surgeon, dear, not a doctor.

"Communication Problems"

  • The whole episode is a series of hilarious lines and scenes:
    • Basil makes Mrs. Richards believe her hearing aid is turned down too low... And then screams in her ear once she turns it up. Sybil doesn't even try that hard to stop him, because she's fed up with her too.
    • Mrs. Richards hits her head, and Basil proceeds to pick up a random dust speck and asks, "Is this a piece of your brain?" (That joke nearly didn't make it in, were it not for the efforts of Andrew "Manuel" Sachs.)
    • Basil tells Mrs. Richards that if she gives him any more trouble he'll sneak into her room in the small hours of the morning and stick a bat up her nightdress.
  • A room with a view:
    Basil Fawlty: That is Torquay, ma'am.
    Mrs. Richards: That is not good enough.
    Basil Fawlty: Well, may I ask what you were expecting to see out of a Torquay hotel bedroom window? Sydney Opera House, perhaps? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically...
    Mrs. Richards: Don't be silly, I expected to see the sea.
    Basil Fawlty: You can see the sea: it's over there between the land and the sky!
    • "No, the radio works. You don't."
    • Mrs. Richards first believes she doesn't have a bath in her room and still isn't happy when shown it:
    Mrs. Richards: You call that a bath? It's not big enough to drown a mouse. It's disgraceful.
    Basil Fawlty: (mutters) I wish you were a mouse, I'd show you...
  • "This is MINE!" (grins maniacally)
  • Sybil suspects that Basil bet on a horse race:
    Sybil: If I find out the money on that horse was yours you know what I'll do Basil.
    Basil: You'll have to sew 'em back on first!
  • The charade scene: Polly guessing 'small' when Basil pointed at his crotch and 'tart' when he pointed at Sybil.
  • "I know nothing..."
    • I'm going to sell you to a vivisectionist!
  • "Oh, I could spend the rest of my life having this conversation, now please please try to understand before one of us dies."

"The Psychiatrist"

  • The One Dialogue, Two Conversations scene between Basil and Dr. Abbott. Abbott asks Basil about holidays, and he thinks Abbott is asking about sex (because that's what psychiatrists are "all obsessed with").
    Dr. Abbott: We were just speculating how people in your profession arrange their holidays. How often you can get away. (Basil isn't listening)
    Basil: Hm?
    Dr. Abbott: How often do you manage it?
    Basil: Pardon?
    Dr. Abbott: How often can you and your wife manage it? You don't mind my asking?
    Basil: Not at all. Not at all. About average, since you asked.
    Mrs. Abbott: Average?
    Basil: Mm-hmm.
    Dr. Abbott: What would be average?
    Basil: Well, you tell me.
    Mrs. Abbott: Well, um, couple of times a year?
    Basil: What?
    Dr. Abbott: Once a year? Well, we knew it must be difficult. My wife didn't see how you could manage it at all.
    Basil: Well, as you've asked, two or three times a week, actually.
    Dr. Abbott: A week?
    Basil: Yes. Pretty normal, isn't it? We're quite normal down here in Torquay, you know?
  • In one particularly daft attempt to prove that a guest has snuck a woman into his room, Basil attempts to peer in the window via a ladder to catch them, only to immediately find he's gone to the wrong window when he sees the titular psychiatrists getting ready for bed. Desperate to save face, he starts tapping the window as though testing the glass until he slowly topples backward and the ladder falls over.
    • Manuel runs back into the hotel for help and right into Sybil. Hilarity Ensues:
    Manuel: Mrs. Fawlty! Mrs. Fawlty! Mrs. Fawlty! Mr. Fawlty!
    Sybil: What?
    Manuel: He hurt! He fall off ladder!
    Sybil: (incredulous) Off a ladder?
    Manuel: Si, si, si, come come come come!
    Sybil: What was he doing up a ladder?
    Manuel: He try to see girl!
    Sybil: (serious) What.
    Manuel: He try to see in room to see girl, she make him crazy!
    Sybil: (Tranquil Fury) I see.
    • She proceeds to storm outside and find Basil trying to put the ladder back up before giving him an Armor-Piercing Slap that knocks him straight back down.
  • The ending, where Basil, after one mishap too many, just... collapses into himself and starts hopping about with his arms over his head. The psychiatrist walks past him with the immortal line "I'm on holiday..."

"Waldorf Salad"

  • Basil has no idea what a Waldorf salad is, and tries to hide it by claiming "I think we're just out of Waldorfs."
  • The entire "screwdriver" conversation Basil has with the Hamiltons:
    Basil: I'll get you tonight's menu. Oh, er, would you care for a drink before your meal?
    Mr. Hamilton: Scotch and water and a screwdriver, please.
    Basil: (puzzled, but decides to roll with it) ...fine. Um — and for you, madam?
    Mrs. Hamilton: The screwdriver's for me.
    Basil: I see... Would you like it now, or after the meal?
    Mrs. Hamilton: Well, now, please!
    Basil: ...There's nothing I can put right?
    Mrs. Hamilton: What?
    Basil: (gives up, smiling widely) Absolutely. So it's one scotch, and a screwdriver! (turns to leave for the kitchen)
    Mr. Hamilton: I think I'll join you. (calls to Basil) Make that two screwdrivers, would you?
    Basil: (stops, takes a long pause and then) You — you'd like a screwdriver, as well.
    Mr. Hamilton: You got it.
    Basil: So, it's one scotch, and you each need a screwdriver.
    Mr. Hamilton: No, no, no, no. Forget the scotch. Two screwdrivers.
    Basil: I understand, and you'll... leave the drinks.
    Mr. Hamilton: What?
    Basil: Nothing to drink?
    Mr. Hamilton: What do you mean, 'Nothing to drink'?
    Basil: Well, you can't drink your screwdrivers, can you? (chuckles)
    Mr. Hamilton: What else would you suggest that we do with them?
    Mrs. Hamilton: (seeing the misunderstanding) Vodka and orange juice.
    Basil: Ah! Certainly, madam!
    Mr. Hamilton: (deadpan) Make that two and forget about the screwdrivers.
    Basil: ...You sure?
    Mr. Hamilton: We can manage without 'em.
  • Basil tries to expel the customers.
    Basil: This is typical. Absolutely typical... of the kind of... ARSE I have to put up with from you people! You ponce in here, expecting to be handwaited on hand and foot while I'm trying to run a hotel here! Have you any idea of how much there is to do? Do you ever think of that? Of course not! You're all too busy sticking your noses into every corner, poking around for things to complain about, aren't you? Well, let me tell you something—this is exactly how Nazi-Germany started! A lot of layabouts with nothing better to do than to cause trouble! Well, I've had fifteen years of pandering to the likes of you, and I've had enough! I've had it! Come on, pack your bags and get out! RAUS! RAUS! RAUS!
  • After Basil has had a major freak-out and stormed out of the hotel because of the customers' (admittedly reasonable) demands and complaints, he changes his mind and goes back in.
    Sybil: What do you want, Basil?
    Basil: (extremely cheery)' A room, please. Ummm — number twelve is free, I think. Now, I'd like breakfast in bed at half past ten in the morning, please — that's eggs, bacon, sausage and tomato, with a Waldorf salad. I'll wash down with lashings of hot screwdriver... (fade out as episode ends)

"The Kipper and the Corpse"

  • Basil's maniac speech about why he didn't realize that the guest was already dead when he brought him breakfast:
    Doctor: Are you telling me you didn't realise this man was dead?
    Basil: Well what was I supposed to think? I mean people don't talk that much in the morning! I was just delivering a tray! I mean, if the guest isn't up and singing "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" am I supposed to immediately think 'oh, there's another one snuffed it in the night?! Another name in the Fawlty Towers book of rememberance! I mean, this is a hotel, not the Burma Railway! It does actually say hotel outside, or perhaps I should be more specific! Hotel for people with a better than 50% chance of making it through the night! What?! What are you all looking at me like that for!
    Sybil: Basil... you've got a kipper sticking out of your jumper.
    Basil: Oh there it is! I've been looking for that!
  • "Oh spiffing. Absolutely spiffing. Two dead, twenty five to go."
  • "Have you locked this?" "Only slightly!"
  • Basil's Sarcastic Confession:
    Mrs. Gatsby: "You're awfully cheerful this morning!
    Mrs. Gatsby: (laughs) Oh, you are wicked!
  • Mr. Leeman's colleagues come to get him, and Basil mistakes him for the undertakers:
    Leeman's work colleague: "What's he doing in there (the washing basket)?"
    Basil, oblivious: "Well, not much."
  • Polly's last-minute save:
    Basil, post-realization: "Oh! Oh... Mr. Leeman!"
    Polly: "We thought you said, 'the linen!'"
  • "Look, I'm a doctor! I'm a doctor and I want my sausages!"
  • "Anything could have happened in there!" "Well, he was dead.""A man is a man, Mrs. Fawlty!"

"The Anniversary"

  • Manuel's off-screen feud with Terry during Basil and Sybil's anniversary. Culminates in a brief shot of them throttling each other on the kitchen floor.
  • "It's perfectly Sybil! Simple's not well! She's lost her throat and her voice hurts. The doctor came this morning and said it was a bit serious, not a lot, a bit, she started to puff up, he's coming back later this afternoon and it's best for her to be on her own! Now what is so peculiar about that?" "Her driving around in the town."
    • "I'll just pop upstairs and ask her to stop dying, and you can all come up and identify her!"
    • A blooper has Sybil slamming the door in her husband's face so hard that the entire wall moves (if you watch the episode, they intentionally zoom the camera on Basil so the wall is out of shot). Cleese does a double take... and immediately begins "checking the joists".

"Basil the Rat"

  • "Would you care for a rat?"
    • Sybil tries to change the subject as Manuel drags the unconscious Basil from the room... "I'm afraid it's started to rain again..."
    • From the same episode, Basil finding out that Manuel has a rat.
      Basil: You have rats in Spain, don't you, or did Franco have them all shot?
  • "We're about to take the life of a public health inspector and you want to know how's the cat?! It's gone to London to see the Queen!"
  • "YOU PUT BASIL IN THE RATATOUILLE!?!" Even better is Sybil's reaction, to simply assure the inspector that "He's from Barcelona..." Even better, this is the only time in the series that Sybil says the line. You can tell from the audience's reaction that they'd been waiting a while for it.
  • Basil: (bursts into the room shouting) That's the poison one, the cat had it!
    Sybil: (as Basil is leaving without paying any attention to her) Poison? Basil-?
  • Sybil's crowning moment of snark probably comes when Basil is attempting to cheer up Manuel when he's acting depressed over losing his pet "hamster":
    Basil: Manuel, my wife informs me that you are "depressed". Now depression is a very bad thing. It's like a virus, it gets inside of you and one day you wake up and you just can't face life any more!
  • An Ask a Stupid Question... moment between Basil and Sybil:
    Sybil: Did you put the lid back on the tank, Basil?
    Basil: Yes, that's why I've been on the roof the last 20 minutes dear.
    Sybil: And you took the pigeons out?
    Basil: No I left them in, they're nearly done.
  • Basil tries to give orders to Manuel:
    Basil: Go get me a hammer.
    Manuel: Ah... hamma sandwich!
    Basil: No, no a hammer!
    Manuel: My... hamster?
    Basil: No! How can I knock a nail in with your hamster? Well I could try...
  • "Got to shoot him Fawlty!" "Ah not- not legal anymore. Murder, actually."
  • "Can't we get you on Mastermind Sybil? 'Next contestant, Sybil Fawlty from Torquay, specialist subject: the bleeding obvious'?"
  • A blooper:
    Manuel [Andrew Sachs]: Is pigeon!
    Basil: It's a rat!
    Manuel: [Out of character, realizing he's flubbed his line] No, it's not a pigeon; it's a hamster.
    [Sachs grins sheepishly, and Cleese — still in character — stares dumbstruck into the camera after hearing "Manuel" properly speak a full sentence in English]


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