It’s been quite a week for the rule of law here in America. A disgraced legendary comedian went on trial for a heinous crime, and the former head of the FBI will testify to Congress on the small matter of whether or not the president committed obstruction of justice.
But just because the law is getting serious doesn’t mean we have to. So to lighten the mood during this solemn time, we put together some of the most memorable, most absurd, and–most importantly–some of the most hysterical courtroom scenes from film and television history.
My Cousin Vinny
A true cornucopia of great court scenes (“Were these magic grits?”“Mrs. Reilly–and only Mrs. Reilly–how many fingers am I holding up now?”“What are these thousands of little things that are on trees?”), but without a doubt the most memorable one is the testimony of automotive expert Mona Lisa Vito. Marisa Tomei deserved her Oscar. Fight me.
Elle Woods showed that wisdom comes in all shapes and styles, and that your attorney’s courtroom skills aren’t hindered by his or her keen fashion sense. In fact, as one of our favorite scenes from the film’s murder trial proves, sometimes their knowledge of chic designers can lead to game-changing insights into human behavior.
Jim Carrey once reigned at the top of the comedic world, where everything he touched turned to gold, and 1997’s Liar Liar was no exception. He put on a masterclass of physical comedy, with the movie’s funniest scenes coming when he violently questioned his own detestable client.
Over the last year, Idiocracy has felt more prescient than ever, but it has always been hysterical. That includes Joe’s trial, which is less a legal proceeding and more a pep rally combined with a lynch mob presented as crude reality TV. Thank goodness our real courtrooms are never… like… oh god.
The movie might have a lot of problems, but the courtroom scene is not one of them. It’s genuinely intense at times, but always hilarious. “Very good, Louis. Short, but pointless.” Plus, it has a just resolution, even if it does need two electrified ghosts to produce that outcome.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
The gang has a long, hilarious tradition of abusing the legal system for pointless matters. They’ve harassed lawyers, annoyed judges, wasted mediators’ time, and made a mockery of the law the many times they’ve headed to court. We could have made this list just from scenes from the show, but we’ll go with one that captures so many of their legal absurdities: Charlie Kelly–Bird Lawyer.
The Trial of the Incredible Hulk
I have to be honest: Before making this list, I didn’t know this existed. My life has been a waste until now. Cancel all Marvel films forever, for they will never top this 1989 made-for-TV movie, starring the Dr. Banner/Incredible Hulk team of Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. What? You think I’m exaggerating? Watch this trailer, where Hulk smash court, and you’ll understand.
There are simply too many amazing ones to choose from, from Freddy Quimby’s “Chowder” trial, to the “Treehouse of Horror” where Homer sold his soul to the Devil, to Mr. Burns hitting Bart with his car, to Krusty falsely being charged with armed robbery, to literally any and every scene with Lionel Hutz. But we’re giving the nod to Homer’s lawsuit over the all-you-can-eat seafood buffet, because quite honestly, “that could have been me!”
One of the biggest problems with our legal system is the lack of musical numbers. Fortunately for us, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend always comes through when we need a song to capture the frustrations of life, like with the show’s hot (water) number “Flooded with Justice.”
Just because your “trial” isn’t real that doesn’t mean your courtroom scene doesn’t belong on the list of the most ridiculous ever. Especially when you have a real judge preside over it. Or rather, a real Judge. Not to mention the best “Hung Jury” ever.
I say, I say, Matt Groening’s other beloved Fox cartoon has had its fair share of trial scenes too, but it makes the list not for any specific one, but rather for the show’s most prominent lawyer, Hyper-Chicken. His Southern drawl and simple roots from a backwoods asteroid belies his smooth-talking courtroom skills.
“Court? At night? I’m already laughing.” That’s right, Tracy Jordan, because this sitcom remains one of the funniest in television history. The problem is in trying to pick just one scene to share. So I’m going with my personal favorite: when Dan (my favorite character) was desperate to make his date, and the court was trying to beat a judge’s midnight deadline to hear every case.
Dan Fielding and Night Court: still the best–and worst–of the American justice system.
But what funny courtroom scenes did we miss? Object with your nominees in the comments section below.
Featured Image: Fox/MGM/NBC