Since I'm always talking about my theory that the best comedy lines are often the ones that don't look like jokes on the page, I thought I'd demonstrate how that theory works out in practice, by nominating ten of the lines of movie dialogue that I consider among the funniest ever. In another mood, of course, I could pick ten others, but here are ten that always, always, always make me laugh, even though they don't look like much, or indeed like jokes, out of context.
All these lines share the basic trait of a great comedy line: mention them to anyone who's seen the movie, and they will laugh; mention them out of context, and they make little sense. With that in mind, I'll take them out of context anyway, and encourage others to mention their own favorite not-funny-out-of-context lines:
1. "I was wondering, could you possibly see an older woman in the part?" -- Constance Collier, Stage Door
2. "Everyone will say anarchists can't spell." -- uncredited anarchist, Jules and Jim
3. "Duck, Magnum, duck!" -- Julie Brown, Earth Girls Are Easy
4. "You'd better go, Gilda, to Tarzan." -- Gary Cooper, Design For Living.
5. "Wait! This is Boomerang. This is Boomerang." -- Zero Mostel, The Producers (the script has the repetition written in; "This is Boomerang wouldn't be funny if he said it only once)
6. "Ting-a-ling-a-ling-a-ling." -- John Barrymore, Twentieth Century (Runner-up: "Anathema! Child of Satan!")
7. "You tell Daddy I'm off to the U.S.S.R. That's short for Russia." -- Pamela Tiffin, One, Two, Three
8. "Souvenirs, novelties, party tricks." -- Ian McNeice, Top Secret!
9. "Aw, I'm not gonna hurt him." -- John Wayne, Rio Bravo
10. "Remember what Napoleon said before he went to Elba: 'So long.'" -- Maurice Chevalier, The Smiling Lieutenant