Last night, Will Ferrell was the 14th funny person to receive the prestigious Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor award. He follows in the footsteps of giants like George Carlin, Tina Fey, and Steve Martin. Audiences enjoyed a retrospective of his career, as well as tributes from a comedian all-star cast, but it was Ferrell’s acceptance speech that won everyone over with his trademark deadpan style. When the Anchorman actor thanked his wife Viveca Paulin for her support, he of course added, “We have a wonderful life together but I do have to say … sometimes you get a little lippy. You’ve got a big mouth and you like to run it.” Who else brought the funny during speech time? Click through for a look back at ten hilarious speeches.
Steve Carell at the 2006 Golden Globes
Most “wife jokes” are awful, but The Office comedian Steve Carell did it the right way by including his SNL-starring wife in his 2006 Golden Globes acceptance speech for Best Actor in a TV series. The 40-Year-Old Virgin actor read a note “written” by his wife Nancy. Cute and funny.
Melissa McCarthy at the 2011 Emmy Awards
No one expected the delightful Melissa McCarthy to win the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series — least of all, it seems, McCarthy herself. While the beauty pageant bit by all of the nominees in the category (Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Martha Plimpton, Edie Falco, and Laura Linney) is what makes this one so funny to us, you have to admit that any speech that begins with “Holy smokes!” is pretty adorable.
Russell Brand at the 2007 Broadcasting Press Guild Awards
Get Him to the Greek star Russell Brand accepted the award for Best Television Performer in a Non-Acting Role in 2007 — a title he wasn’t too sure about. But his speech also finds the comedian gloating about all the sex he’s getting, discussing his “mentally unstable” fans, and more — all in lovable, manic cadence with shaggy hair.
Tina Fey receiving her 2010 Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize
Will Ferrell was this year’s winner of the Mark Twain Prize, but last year’s winner Tina Fey delivered a hilarious speech that was censored in part due to comments about Sarah Palin:
“Politics aside, the success of Sarah Palin and women like her is good for all women — except, of course, those who will end up paying for their own rape kit and stuff. But for everybody else, it’s a win-win. Unless you’re a gay woman who wants to marry your partner of 20 years. Whatever. But for most women, the success of conservative women is good for all of us. Unless you believe in evolution. You know — actually, I take it back. The whole thing’s a disaster.”
The actress’ sharp quips don’t hide her graciousness, however.
Robert Downey Jr. at the 2010 Golden Globes
Robert Downey Jr. does sarcasm and swagger at the 2010 Golden Globes when accepting his award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Comedy (Sherlock Holmes). “I don’t have anybody to thank,” joked the actor with a very colorful past.
Robert Downey Jr. at the 2010 Golden Globes
Young Adult actor Patton Oswalt gives a heartfelt speech wearing a Barbarella-style unitard, and talks about performing a “silver boy fantasy dance for visiting businessmen in Los Angeles.” What else did you expect?
Stephen Colbert at the 2006 White House Correspondents’ Dinner
What else can we really say about Stephen Colbert’s legendary speech at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner? The Colbert Report host poked at President George W. Bush, the media, and various other political figures who were present that evening. Many people walked out, and the speech sparked a funny/unfunny debate for weeks. Watch, and decide for yourself.
Conan O’Brien’s 2011 Dartmouth College Commencement Speech
Coco brought the laughs as usual when he delivered the commencement address for Dartmouth College’s 2011 graduating class. The 20-minute talk is full of wisdom and witticisms.
“My first job as commencement speaker is to illustrate that life is not fair. For example, you worked tirelessly for four years to earn the diploma you will be receiving this weekend. And Dartmouth is giving me the same degree for interviewing the fourth lead in Twilight. Deal with it.”
Jodie Foster at the University of Pennsylvania’s commencement ceremony
Watch an Oscar-winning actress quote-sing Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” in her commencement speech.
Sacha Baron Cohen at the 2007 Golden Globes
The Borat actor talks about that moment in his 2006 film. Not for the faint of stomach.
“This movie was a life-changing experience. I saw some amazing, beautiful, invigorating parts of America, but I saw some dark parts of America, an ugly side of America, a side of America that rarely sees the light of day. I refer of course to the anus and testicles of my co-star Ken Davitian.”