The 20 Funniest Awards Show Speeches Of All Time

Sacha Baron Cohen: Bob Long/HFPA via Getty Images.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus: Kevin Winter/Getty Images.
Amy Poehler: Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty Images.
If you're a true awards-show fan, you can watch these things from start to finish, appreciating every obscure statuette handed out and every thank you to producers, agents, managers, childhood teachers, and moms. The rest of us simply tolerate those lovely moments of gratitude in hopes that something more entertaining will eventually take place. Sometimes, this takes the form of tearjerking speeches honoring all who paved the way to some lucky winner's achievement. Other times, the folks receiving the accolades will take their moment onstage to make us fall out of our seats with laughter.

Before we brace ourselves for a lot of self-important Hollywood types thanking each other at the Oscars, we're taking this moment to thank the folks who have tossed off the veil of reverence and gravitas. We've loved watching spontaneous joy turn into hilarity with the likes of Robin Williams, Julia Roberts, and Roberto Benigni. But just as funny are the ways actors like Amy Poehler, Anna Kendrick, Jim Carrey, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus planned bits in case they won. What's equally impressive is that no one seems ungrateful as they infuse their acceptance speeches with humor. They're just doing a great job of reminding us that they're not accepting Nobel Peace Prizes up there.
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1 of 20
Art Garfunkel (for Olivia Newton-John), Record of the Year Grammy, 1975

Taylor Swift and Kanye West weren't the first artists to air their grievances at the Grammys. In 1975, Olivia Newton-John's "I Honestly Love You" somehow beat out the likes of Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," Roberta Flack's "Feel Like Making Love," and Joni Mitchell's "Help Me" for Record of the Year — but she wasn't there to accept the award.

It was presented by the strange trio of Paul Simon, John Lennon, and Andy Williams, all making fun of their respective splits from bandmates (and in Williams' case, his spouse). In a bit of engineered awkwardness, Art Garfunkel came up to accept on Newton-John's behalf. "I thought I told you to wait in the car," Simon told his former partner, who struck back, "Still writing, Paul?"
2 of 20
Jack Palance, Best Supporting Actor Oscar, 1992

"Billy Crystal, I crap bigger than him," the City Slickers star began, echoing a famous brag from the movie. Then, the 73-year-old former boxer, college football player, and Air Force vet proceeded to demonstrate his one-handed push-ups, proving it was silly for casting directors to doubt that a man of his age can still work in movies. Then, apropos of nothing, he turned it into a double entendre.

"As far as the two-handed push-ups are concerned, you can do that all night and it doesn't make any difference whether she's there or not." Good for you, dude.
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3 of 20
Robin Williams, Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical Golden Globe, 1992

Despite seeming genuinely moved by the honor for his role in The Fisher King, Williams delivered one of his wild, improvisational speeches that veers from impressions of George Bush and director Terry Gilliam to random Silence of the Lambs references to bursts of real gratitude for a lot of people. Try not to cry while you're laughing at this.
4 of 20
Michael Jackson, Grammy Legend Award, 1993

"Funny" isn't the first adjective you think of when you think of Michael Jackson. And maybe this line was scripted for him ahead of time, but still, it's refreshing to see the King of Pop have a sense of humor about the nonstop gossip that followed him for his entire life. Embracing his baby sister, who'd just presented a tribute to him, Jackson grinned and said, "I hope this finally puts to rest another rumor that's been in the press for too many years. Me and Janet really are two different people."
5 of 20
Emma Thompson, Best Adapted Screenplay Golden Globe, 1996

Thompson declared that above all others, she really owed Sense and Sensibility author Jane Austen the most for her win. To honor her, Thompson read her fan-fic version of an Austen diary entry after attending the "Golden Spheres, which despite the inconveniences of heat, noise, and overcrowding, was not without its pleasures...The gowns were middling." Austen fans will find this hilarious; there's no hope for the rest of you.
6 of 20
Christine Lahti (and Robin Williams), Best Actress in a TV Drama Golden Globe, 1998

The Chicago Hope star was in the bathroom when she won — and rather than awkwardly waiting for her to make her way to the stage, Robin Williams crashed the stage and started speaking in gibberish, making jokes about cloning. Lahti was still holding a hand towel when she finally got to take over. No one remembers Chicago Hope anymore, but this moment (and the one a few years later, when the same thing happened to Renée Zellweger) will go down in history.
7 of 20
Jim Carrey, Best Male Performance MTV Movie Award, 1999

In a long wig, sunglasses, and bushy '70s biker beard, Jim Carrey wasn't recognized by most people attending the show until he took the stage to accept his Golden Popcorn for The Truman Show. Brandishing a cigarette of some kind, Carrey declared he was done dancing for the man and was embracing his true self. After complaining that MTV didn't play enough Foghat (a '70s reference definitely going over the heads of most viewers at home), he thanked the ladies for looking good enough to go in his "fantasy file," evoking shocked laughter from Keri Russell and Salma Hayek and cheers from Courtney Love.
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8 of 20
Roberto Benigni, Best Actor Oscar, 1999

The actor-director had already accepted Best Foreign Film for Life Is Beautiful (climbing over the seats and fellow nominees to get to Sophia Loren on stage), so by the time he received this award, he said, "This is a terrible mistake, because I used up all my English." His English was actually better than most, because we can hardly think of a more descriptive expression of gratitude and joy than, "I would like to be Jupiter and kidnap everybody and lie down in the firmament making love to everybody."
9 of 20
Julia Roberts, Best Actress Oscar, 2001

Academy Awards producer Gil Cates promised a fancy new TV to the person who gave the shortest acceptance speech that year, but Roberts was having none of it. "I have a television, so I'm going to spend some time here to tell you some things."

She was so excited on that stage, she apparently forgot the word for "conductor," referring to the orchestra's leader as "stick man" when he seemed poised to play her off. The best part of this whole thing, though, is that infectious, super Julia Roberts-y guffaw she lets out.
10 of 20
Adrien Brody, Best Actor Oscar, 2003

The Pianist star let his id go first when he received his statue, pulling presenter Halle Berry into a passionate kiss. Somehow, because it was Brody, this didn't seem creepy or sexually aggressive.

"I bet they didn't tell you that was in the gift bag," he said to Berry as she wiped her stunned lips, laughing.
11 of 20
Bill Murray, Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical Golden Globe, 2004

Every bit of Murray's Saturday Night Live training is present when he accepts an award, using his deadpan delivery to turn a dull speech into something that had the rest of the stars in attendance nearly falling out of their seats.

"You can all relax, I fired my agents a couple of months ago," he said when he received this prize for Lost in Translation. Mocking everyone else's long lists of thanks, he continued, "My physical trainer killed himself and I would thank the people at Universal and Focus, except there are so many people trying to take credit for this I wouldn't know where to begin."
12 of 20
Sacha Baron Cohen, Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical Golden Globe, 2007

This is speech is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach, as Cohen describes being nearly smothered by the "anus and testicles" of Borat co-star Ken Davitian, who winds up guzzling a bottle of wine by the end of Cohen's "thanks."
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13 of 20
Ricky Gervais, Retrieving His 2007 Best Actor in a Comedy Emmy, 2008

Technically, this was a presenting gig, in which the Office creator introduced a montage of some great acceptance speeches we haven't included in this list. Then, in classic Gervais style, it turned into an uncomfortable comedy bit. In 2007, American Office star Steve Carell accepted the absent Gervais' Emmy for Extras and the two actors spent all year perpetuating a joke that Carell refused to hand over the statuette.
14 of 20
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Best Actress in a Comedy Emmy, 2012

If you know what happens in the speech, you can catch Amy Poehler handing JLD a crumpled piece of paper as they embrace. But most of us didn't catch that until we saw the Veep star begin to read it, thanking the cast of Parks & Recreation and Poehler's sons before the camera cut back to Poehler looking horrified. These ladies for all the awards, ever.
15 of 20
Merritt Wever, Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Emmy, 2013

If non-Nurse Jackie fans didn't know who Merritt Wever was before this awards show, they certainly knew her after she delivered the shortest and sweetest speech of all time: "Thank you so much. I gotta go. Bye."
16 of 20
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Best Actress in a Comedy Emmy, 2013

When you've been nominated for 16 Emmys and are up for your fourth win, you know you'd better have something good prepared for the stage — none of this mock surprise will fly.

This time around, JLD got Veep co-star Tony Hale to get in character as the VP's "bag man," Gary, holding her tiny clutch and whispering reminders in her ear. Bonus points to Anna Chlumsky, also in character, looking down at her phone for the entire speech.
17 of 20
Amy Poehler, Best Actress in a TV Comedy Golden Globe, 2014

In the middle of co-hosting the show with Tina Fey, the Parks & Rec star got a boxer-style shoulder rub from Bono while apparently sitting on his lap. We wonder if she'd warned him what would happen next if she won?
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18 of 20
Stephen Colbert (and Jimmy Fallon), Outstanding Variety Series Emmy, 2014

You couldn't ask for a nicer stage-crasher than Fallon, who rushed the stage claiming that since Gwen Stefani flubbed the show's name, he doubted the results. Then, he proceeded to deliver all of Colbert's thanks for him. We also appreciate Colbert's slight acknowledgment that he only had one woman on his writing staff.
19 of 20
Anna Kendrick, Best Soundtrack American Music Award, 2015

The Pitch Perfect 2 star had long before perfected her fake bitchy starlet shtick, but she took it to new heights as she called out the soundtrack's producers for being a "ruthless little group of sociopaths," wondered about a threesome with the music supervisors, called out Universal's chairman, Donna Langley, for having a fake accent, and joked about burying a dead hooker with another producer. As gracious as they get!
20 of 20
Ellen DeGeneres, People's Choice Favorite Humanitarian Award, 2016

"I set out just to make people happy, to make people laugh, and to get very, very rich," DeGeneres quipped in a speech that alternated between genuine thanks and mock arrogance. "Would I call myself the Mother Theresa of talk shows? The Dalai Lama of daytime? No, but I’m sure someone out there has!"

And to show she knows how to give any audience what they really want, she concluded with a giant photo of a shirtless Chris Hemsworth.
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