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"You enjoyin' that sandwich, are you?"—Peter Cook, as Dudley Moore tries to hide his laughter with one.
Corpsing is actor-speak for having an unscripted fit of laughter onstage, so-called because the worst time to have the giggles is when one is playing a corpse. Corpsing doesn't necessarily mean that the material is especially funny (though, of course, it can), or that the actors aren't taking it seriously; it just happens, and even excellent actors can corpse. Stress can do that to a person. Many actors try to cover this by covering their mouth and muffling the sounds they make. When this is done, a fit of laughter can be rather haphazardly be turned into violent sobbing, with varying levels of success. Of course, that only helps if violent crying is appropriate for the scene (again, playing a corpse leaves you in trouble).
Some actors, of course, will try their level best to make other actors corpse. It seems to be a feather in one's cap of some sort, to either be the guy who never corpses, or the guy who can make even the guy who never corpses corpse. Bonus points if you're working in a scene with a very seasoned and well-respected actor. Even if they have a great sense of humor in real life, getting someone the caliber of Jeremy Irons or Meryl Streep to get the giggles is a big achievement.
A common type of Hilarious Outtakes.
- A famous example occurs in The Wizard of Oz. When Bert Lahr (the Cowardly Lion) makes his first appearance, Judy Garland (Dorothy) hides behind Toto. This looks like it's because she's frightened, but in actuality she was just trying to cover up the fact that she was laughing at Lahr.
- Dr. Strangelove
- Peter Bull, playing the sombre Russian ambassador, is shaking with laughter and trying desperately not to laugh out loud at watching Peter Sellers' ad-libbed antics as he fights his Evil Hand. He regained his composure quickly enough that the scene could still be used.
- They did have to cut it rather close, though. One scene showing Bull ends just seconds from the actor corpsing as seen when his stoic facade cracks.
- Peter Sellers was notorious for having this effect on his co-stars. another noticable moment (or Moments) is in Return of the Pink Panther and his scenes with Catherine Schell.
- Another scene was not so lucky--originally the movie was to end with a pie fight. Seriously. Unfortunately, the characters had to be totally earnest about it to fit with the Black Comedy tone of the movie. That was a bridge too far; the entire cast corpsed within the first few pastry volleys, and the set (not to mention wardrobe) was too trashed for a second take.
- Peter Bull, playing the sombre Russian ambassador, is shaking with laughter and trying desperately not to laugh out loud at watching Peter Sellers' ad-libbed antics as he fights his Evil Hand. He regained his composure quickly enough that the scene could still be used.
- Another Kubrick example is in Full Metal Jacket. At the beginning when Gunnery Sergeant Hartman is berating the men, Vincent D'Onofrio begins to crack up. This was unintentional but they kept going. This reaction is Truth in Television as seen in the Real Life section below.
- In Men in Black, the scene where K is shaking Frank the pug. You can obviously see Tommy Lee Jones struggling to keep from laughing on camera. He's only partially successful. (Quick smile at about 44 seconds in.)
- Groucho Marx was such a hilarious actor that Margaret Dumont could hardly ever keep a straight face when she was on screen with him.
- Monty Python:
- In Monty Python's Life of Brian, during the "Biggus Dickus" scene, the extras playing the guards were told that the scene would be serious and that they had to keep straight faces or they would be sacked. Michael Palin turned his performance up to eleven to get them to corpse, and it ended up as one of the funniest scenes in the entire film.
- In Monty Python and The Holy Grail, watch Eric Idle as a peasant during the "burn the witch" scene. As John Cleese stretches an awkward silence out further and further, Idle has to bite down on his scythe at one point to keep from laughing.
- According to John Cleese, Michael Palin was "very naughty" on stage in his attempts to get the other Pythons to do this during live performances.
- At one point during the live tour, Terry Jones and Graham Chapman decided to try and make each other corpse when walking on to do a sketch about pepperpots; since they did their makeup separately and came in from opposite sides of the stage, there was a ready-made battlefield. They gradually got more and more absurd with their makeup, climaxing when Terry (sporting a Homer Simpson beard made entirely from lipstick) cracked up at the sight of Graham with a circle of lipstick drawn around his face.
- During the (not kidding) twenty straight minutes of rock climbing in B-Movie Lost Continent, as Cesar Romero is pulled up a cliff, his trousers begin to slide down and the actors hoisting him grab him by the back of his belt to prevent it. Behind them, Hugh Beaumont is visibly snickering at this and making a half-hearted attempt to hide it. You can see it here in the MST3K version.
- A bit of Corpsing gets through in Spaceballs, but only slightly. When the Radar Officer tells Dark Helmet, "I'm having trouble with the radar, sir," there's a bit of a chuckle at the end. It should be noted that the officer was played by Michael Winslow, man of a thousand sound effects. Almost a dozen Police Academy movies and this was the point where he almost loses his composure? Hilarious.
- Rik Mayall claims some of the child actors tried to do this to him during his (cut from the final film, sadly) scenes as Peeves in Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone. Luckily for Mayall, he had experience with that sort of thing.
- According to Chris Columbus, the first Potter film is filled with rapid cuts to compensate for how often the child actors would smile or laugh in the middle of takes. Rupert Grint was known for being especially bad at not corpsing and apparently he didn't get much better when he grew up. On the fifth film, an instance of corpsing became a Throw It In (when the Trio all laughs after Harry talks about his kiss with Cho).
- Emma Watson was reportedly terrible for doing this during the filming of the final film. They set up a corpsing jar on set because of it.
- In Ghostbusters, when the gang goes to the Sedgwick Hotel and speaks to the man by the elevator ("What're you supposed to be, some kinda cosmonaut?"), you can see Dan Aykroyd (Ray Stantz) turn his head and look down at Bill Murray's (Peter Venkman) comments about roaches. ("Must be a big cockroach." "Bite your head off, man.")
- Happens to Kevin Smith in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back when Jay is trying to pretend he's Jason Van Der Beek to the security guards.
- Lindsay Lohan and Rachel McAdams have both said publicly that the filming of Mean Girls was often prolonged by fits of giggles induced whenever Tim Meadows was on set. It apparently became his mission for the duration of his work on that film to make Lindsay laugh on-camera as often as possible.
- Ace Ventura: Courtney Cox tries and almost succeeds in looking solemn when 'Larry' (Jim Carrey) acts out "a button-hook pattern in super slo-mo". She nearly cracks when he does an "instant replay" and 'bounces' off the doctor's shoulder.
- Watch Young Frankenstein and count the number of scenes where Gene Wilder is inches away from completely losing it.
- Igor's "take the bags" scene had to be filmed multiple times--not because the cast corpsed, but because the crew was laughing so hard that it was messing up the takes.
- Fictional example: In the Batman movie (the one with Jack Nicholson as The Joker), one news reporter starts corpsing...and then becomes a corpse soon after due to Joker venom.
- A whole series of corpsing outtakes play during the Creative Closing Credits of Cannonball Run.
- Star Wars: After delivering the line about "killing younglings", Obi-Wan quickly covers his mouth in a way that looks suspiciously like he's trying not to laugh.
- In the film Sister Act', when Mother Superior is raging at Deloris for turning the choir into a sideshow, the priest knocks on the door. Maggie Smith literally squeaks a loud "Come in!" that is so out of character (both for Mother Superior and for Maggie Smith) that you can clearly see Whoopi Goldberg immediately cover her mouth as she starts corpsing.
- While shooting the line-up scene in The Usual Suspects, everyone started laughing, so Bryan Singer kept part of it the film (right before Benicio Del Toro says his lines).
- Watch Mark Ruffalo in the infamous shawarma scene of The Avengers's second Stinger.
- The "wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world" scene from Dumb and Dumber was not in the script; it was ad-libbed by Jim Carrey. During this scene in the movie you can see actor Mike Starr (who plays the hitman Mental) visibly trying not to laugh.
- Lost in Translation features a scene with Bill Murray "talking" to an elderly Japanese woman in a hospital waiting room. Nearby are two extras who are nearly bursting from trying not to laugh. Murray (the actor) appears to notice them and goes even further trying to provoke a reaction from them.
Live Action TV
- Jerry more or less constantly in Seinfeld
- Peter Cook, a master of improv, liked to get his partner Dudley Moore to corpse during filmings of Not Only but Also.
Pete: [as Dud tries to hide his laughter by eating] You enjoyin' that sandwich, are ya?
Dud: [weeps with laughter]
- Happened all the time on The Carol Burnett Show, especially to Harvey Korman whenever he did a skit with Tim Conway.
- Note that Conway actively tried to make it happen. The other cast members reportedly placed bets to see how long it would take Korman to bust out laughing.
- Other times, the other members, especially Carol, would get even with Tim. Like in "The Flasher" skit.
- Vicki Lawrence was very good at resisting corpsing, but could even make Tim fall out laughing, as at the very end of the Elephant story
- On the Thirty Rock Live Episode, Tracy tries to corpse on purpose to get a laugh. Tracy being Tracy, he does it badly.
Tracy: "Uh oh, I'm doing something called 'breaking' Blahahahaha. Snort. Heehee. Giggle giggle. The audience loves this!"
- Doctor Who actors Janet Fielding and Sarah Sutton are actually corpsing, not sobbing, during Adric's death scene in "Earthshock".
- In the episode "The Christmas Invasion", watch Mickey's face from the point that the Doctor staggers out of the TARDIS to the point that he collapses at Mickey and Jackie's feet. Poor Noel Clarke could barely keep a straight face.
- "New Earth" - When Lady Cassandra takes over the Doctor's body and turns up the camp, you can see Billie Piper trying not to crack.
- In The Seeds of Death, watch Zoe when the Doctor is swept off his feet by the foam at the beginning of Episode Six. Or, if you've got the DVD, watch the Easter Egg, which shows the commentary being filmed for that scene.
- A segment on The Daily Show regarding a sex scandal involving Prince Charles produced one of the greatest corpses of all time between Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. A few of the more notable times involved the writers and other actors changing things up on Jon between rehearsal and recording (such as when John Oliver reads the names of Britain's Fallen Soldiers).
- Colbert's site has a video tag for when he loses it on camera.
- Several times on Whose Line Is It Anyway. Most of the time, the four "players" and Drew are great at keeping straight faces, but sometimes you get moments like this.
- Colin can sometimes set it off with a single word, such as "Tapioca!" or an already breaking down "Meow".
- "Meow" gets special credit because not only did he get Wayne, Drew and Ryan to break, he even made Laura Hall playing the piano to crack, the music faultering and just stopping because she was laughing so hard.
- So far, only three people have managed to get Colin to corpse: Robin Williams, Richard Simmons, and Colin himself.
- A pure case of corpsing (in that he is actually meant to be a corpse) occurs for Drew in one of the outtakes (6:26).
- The two most common corpsing events involve Colin going off on tangents during the "Greatest Hits" as a spokesman with Ryan (Leading to such gems as the "Tapioca" outburst and "We're watching animal porn!" bit) and during the Irish Drinking Song skit where Colin was always the one to finish the song with a rhyme and does it in such a way that everyone else loses it, leaving him as the sole person literally standing.
- The Cat!
- Colin gets another one during Greatest Hits when Ryan asks him what bird says the name of their next band (meaning an owl which says "who". Colin's guess? Just watch. Everyone else on stage loses it for about a minute.
- Colin can sometimes set it off with a single word, such as "Tapioca!" or an already breaking down "Meow".
- Most of the bloopers on the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Poopie Reel (available on the Manos: The Hands of Fate episode's DVD) consist of corpsing. This example in particular...
- In the completed Monster a Go-Go! episode, you can see Frank crack during the "Johnny Longtorso" song. As seen in the Poopie reel, it's fairly impressive that he could get through it at all.
- A memorable segment of Coupling had Jeff describe the concept of 'The Giggle Loop' - the compulsion to laugh in inappropriate situations that only intensifies the more you think about how inappropriate it would be. Later on, they all go to a funeral...
- Very common in Saturday Night Live due to the live comedy nature of the show.
- On a sketch from the original cast era (1975-1980), Gilda Radner plays a dumb woman who embarrasses her friend played by Candace Bergen. Bergen then calls her "Fern" (which is actually her character's name) instead of "Lisa" which is Gilda's character's name. Bergen completely cracks while Gilda turns the sketch around and makes it look like "Fern" is the dumb one in the sketch.
- Chris Farley was a master at inspiring this in his castmates.
- This was the most enjoyable part of the Zagat's sketches. Adam Sandler plays a grumpy Deadpan Snarker husband, and Chris Farley is his over-enthusiastic wife. His performance is so over the top that watching Sandler try to keep his miserable expression (and fail) is far funnier than a straight take would have been.
- Matt Foley sketch had the cast rolling, especially David Spade.
- In his autobiography, Jay Mohr talks about how it was often impossible not to laugh in Farley's presence. He notes that in one scene, Farley simply crossed his eyes whenever he knew the camera couldn't see it, prompting his co-stars to crack up.
- After leaving the show, Spade would later host SNL. He was featured in a sketch with Will Ferrell, who played a Drill Sergeant Nasty. Ferrell apparently tried his damnedest to make Spade crack up during the sketch. It worked.
- Another sketch with Ferrell, known as "The Bad Doctor". The setup is that a couple of recent parents are consulting a suspiciously qualified doctor, and it only goes downhill from there. Right around the time Ferrell says "we misplaced your baby", he and Molly Shannon are both cracking up.
- In the famous Phil Hartman sketch where he visits a McDonald's as Bill Clinton, he starts eating the customers' food as he talks. At one point, he literally chokes for a second and needs Tim Meadows to supply him with water. Being the professional that he is, Phil plays it off.
- Another Phil Hartman crackup here when he is playing Frankenstein. There's actually a story with this in which Phil was sitting there and suddenly realized how absurd the situation was and then giggled a bit. He stopped for a few and then thought about how Frankenstein would've sounded laughing, which set him off all over again.
- Horatio Sanz often couldn't keep a straight face and neither could Jimmy Fallon. On the 2011 Christmas episode hosted by Jimmy Fallon, he even stated that his cracking up on-camera ruined a lot of good sketches.
- Tracy Morgan said in an interview with Penthouse that Fallon's tendency to corpse wasn't always appreciated among the cast, adding that Fallon knew better than to not do it in a sketch involving Tracy.
- On the Family Guy episode, "Don't Make Me Over," Peter beats up Jimmy Fallon for his constant corpsing, stating that he hasn't earned the right to do it like Carol Brunett (and apparently forgetting the fact that Fallon had sex with Meg as part of the show's cold opening).
- In the first Debbie Downer sketch, nobody could keep a straight face.
- Perhaps the only person in this particular sketch who didn't break down into hysterics was Fred Armisen, who was clearly doing all he could to keep from corpsing along with his castmates. He was successful...kinda.
- So prevalent was this in the sketches that the syndicated version of the Downer sketch with Ben Affleck (from season 30) contains the dress rehearsal version in which the cast corpses; it comes with a disclaimer that it was funnier than the original live version in which everyone kept it together.
- Bill Hader often has difficulty maintaining his act while portraying Stefon, a flaming homosexual hipster who describes various disturbing night clubs during "Weekend Update" (this is thanks to writer John Mulaney pretty much Gaslighting Hader -- for laughs, of course -- by changing some descriptions at the last minute and often the people watching him from behind the camera laughing along with the audience. According to an interview with David Letterman, it's gotten to the point where even the mike man is telling Bill that he's not going to make it through without laughing). Stefon's nervous tic of constantly covering his face with his hands helps Hader hide this (but just barely).
- And, of course, there's the famous "I have a fevah! And the only prescription...is more cowbell!" Line delivered by Christopher Walken, which made everyone in the scene crack up.
- For all this, SNL also has the über anti-corpsing example: Alec Baldwin, Ana Gasteyer, Molly Shannon, and Schweddy Balls.
- One outtake from X-Files featured this, complete with corpse. The corpse coughs and the film crew cracks up while Scully delivers her lines: "It's true, John. She's gone. There's no measurable electrical activity in her brain."
- This happened on The X-Files a lot, particularly when props didn't work. One outtake reel includes what's supposed to be a burning book failing to catch fire three times. When it finally works, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson try really hard to keep straight faces, but when they look at one another they both burst out laughing.
- In the Penguin scene mentioned in Throw It In, Graham Chapman's exclamation of "Oh, intercourse the penguin!" is clearly an ad lib. How can you tell? John Cleese obviously trying to stifle his laughter and get back in character...
- It's hard to find an episode of Monty Python without a scene of Michael desperately trying not to corpse. And being utterly adorable as he does.
- John Cleese's truly EPIC attempts to get Michael Palin to corpse -- at which he succeeds repeatedly -- arguably make this version of the Dead Parrot Sketch the best one ever made.
Cleese: This is nothing to laugh at!
Palin: [shakes with suppressed laughter]
- A rare television commercial version happens in an A&W commercial. In the "Two For One Mamaburger" commercial with helium balloons, the balloon the employee releases at the end flies around and manages to hit the manager in the face and stay there as it deflates. You can tell the actor playing the employee is barely containing his laughter.
- In the famous "Sis Boom Bah" joke from Carnac the Magnificent on The Tonight Show, Johnny and Ed can't keep a straight face before they deliver the joke. And who could blame them?
- Another sketch from theTonightShow features Johnny and Joe Friday (Jack Webb) reviewing a case. The entire skit was designed solely to make Friday crack up. it finally happens at the end of this clip
- In one Mork and Mindy episode homaging It's a Wonderful Life, Mork is supposed to be invisible and inaudible as he observes Mindy's life without him. Pam Dawber makes a valiant but ultimately futile effort to keep a straight face to Robin Williams' antics. Apparently, Robin liked to do this deliberately. In an interview, Pam mentioned one time where he stood offstage completely naked just to mess with her.
- Anne Robinson, the unflappable host of The Weakest Link, suffered a few facial twitches during a celebrity edition when Rob Schneider mentioned that he'd like to find out who "the sexy link" was, and stating his belief that: "Anne, I think it's you." Later, when voted off, Rob rushes the podium and wraps Anne in a giant bear hug, lifting her and spinning her around. Any semblance of a straight face is immediately lost.
- Neil Patrick Harris was chuckling when Jason Segel was singing Happy, Happy Lily-day, however, it's not that noticeable.
- Also Cobie Smulders is clearly struggling to contain herself when Barney explains The Three Day Rule
- For a man known for being a Deadpan Snarker, Richard Dawson has an absolutely epic fit of uncontrollable laughter during the infamous "September" Fast Money round of Family Feud.
- A sketch of Brazilian TV show Zorra Total had a drunkard psychiatrist. He always opened the window to check the "no health plan" patients' line outside, which even had a barbecue salesman. Said salesman was always shot from the back to hide his corpsing (in one episode, the psychiatrist dragged the salesman inside the office, just to show he was laughing his ass off).
- Happened on Anderson Cooper 360 during a "Ridiculist" segment talking about Gerard Depardieu peeing on a plane. Anderson Cooper starts laughing uncontrollably after reading all the puns. To be fair, there are a lot of puns.
- Happens quite a bit on Mad TV, especially in the Stuart (Michael MacDonald) sketches. His mom (Mo Collins) often has trouble keeping a straight face.
- In Necessary Roughness one client turned to Dani after suddenly breaking into laughter during a live news report on an on-going war.
- Tommy Davidson guest-stars on Martin as a former radio jockey turned Hollywood star. It's clear that the scene is a mix of script and ad-libs. At one point in the scene, Davidson says "the catfish are delicious," and Martin can't help but start laughing to himself and tries to turn his head from the camera. Tommy tries to continue, but also has to turn away and you can hear him guffawing his way through the line. Martin doesn't speak again, until he stops laughing. I mean just watch
- Mr. Cunningham trying not to laugh as his wife fires off every one of Fonzies catchphrases straight to his face. Right here
- On Project Runway, the usually stoic Michael Kors memorably lost it during one runway show when a model did a super sexy pose at the end of her walk. Everyone else on set proceeds to crack up as well.
- This also happens frequently when a designer's look is being critiqued, with cuts to the other designers trying desperately to hold back church giggles.
- Dick and Dom in da Bungalow would feature certainly Dick, and often Dom, cracking up at least once an episode. Brilliantly infectious. In this clip they seriously disturb the peace in a library.
- Happens in a season one episode of Burn Notice, but is only revealed in the DVD commentary. Bruce Campbell, playing Sam Axe, says "It's only photoshop," causing Jeffrey Donovan, playing Michael Westen, to laugh for seven hours.
- Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell do this during the Good Burger sketch on the All That Tenth Anniversary Special.
- Of course, the title of King of Corpsing might very well go to Ricky Gervais, co-writer and star of The Office, Extras and Life's Too Short. He not only ruins many takes with his very boisterous laugh, but will actively try to make his fellow cast members corpse. And he always succeeds.
- One blooper from The Office shows John Krasinki, who plays Jim, being unable to contain himself after watching Rainn Wilson, who plays Dwight, deliver the quote "May you fight with the strength of ten grown men".
- Rainn Wilson corpses around ten times trying to deliver the line "I will pray to Thor himself" on the season 2 reel.
- One particularly infamous episode of Lost in Space features a vegetable villain who is so ridiculous some of the cast can be seen turning away from the camera to hide their corpsing.
- This would occassionally happen on Hello Cheeky, and whenever there was corpsing, there would be Throw It In. It's especially noticeable in a sketch in the first episode of the TV series, in which Barry has been playing himself for a while, then literally ducks under the table and re-emerges with a hat. John asks "Who are you?", at which point Barry cracks up with the sheer bizarreness of the situation, the audience goes into hysterics, and the sketch stops for fifteen seconds while the performers improvise and crack up.
John: I demand to know!
Tim: I demand to know also!
Barry: I know no fear! I don't know my lines, but I don't know fear as well!
- Marg Helgenberger's scene with William Petersen at the end of the CSI episode 'Inside The Box' likely counts. Petersen did the pre-surgery scene with Grissom in his hopsital gown without wearing anything underneath. Marg/Catherine is seen smirking at the end and you can probably guess why.
- On one episode of the game show The Chase one of the questions was "In what sport did Fanny Chmelar compete for Germany?". Cue Bradley Walsh desperately trying not to laugh.
- In the Star Trek The Next Generation episode "Masks", there is a scene in which Picard and Riker discuss how to address the corruption of the ship's main computer by an alien archive. For part of the scene, actor Jonathan Frakes has an inappropriate grin on his face, and is apparently attempting to resist laughing.
- This Friends clip.
- Apparently, the ladies of Hot in Cleveland had a running contest to see who would be the first to make Betty White corpse. Of course, since Betty is a sitcom vet who has been doing this for fifty years, this is a rather tall order. Nothing made it into the actual episodes, but the blooper reel shows that Jane Leeves won.
- In-universe example in The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Mary is at the funeral for Chuckles the clown, and keeps having to suppress laughter, even after she warned the others to stay serious. Becomes a simultaneous Crowning Moment of Heartwarming and Crowning Moment of Funny when she is told that it is all right, that Chuckles lived for making people laugh, and that even at his own funeral, he would want her to laugh. Mary stares for a second and starts bawling.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer was not immune to this. In season three Faith is moping that she wasn't able to turn Angel evil, and her parental figure Big Bad suggests miniature golf to cheer her up. Seeing as she is at the time an Ax Crazy psychotic either the character or her actress can't help but laugh.
- Something similar happens at the end of season six. Willow has gone completely off the rails, as has the lives of Buffy and her friends. She details this to Giles, who reacts to the somber news by cracking up laughing. After a moment Buffy does as well.
- Subverted whole-hog in The Muppet Show where Statler and Waldorf usually laugh at their own wisecracks and you can't help but laugh along.
- Very frequently on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, and it usually got left in (much like what would happen on SNL years later). Most spectacularly when Dan Rowan was playing a Mexican and Sammy Davis Jr. cracked up laughing, saying "That's the worst accent I've ever heard!" then got back into character and carried on with the skit.
- From Community: Look very closely at Jeff's face in "Virtual Systems Analysis" when the Dean approaches as the "Duali-Dean of Man". A couple of camera angles hide the fact that Joel Mc Hale's about three seconds away from losing it.
- Elvis Presley had an epic one during one performance of "Are You Lonesome Tonight", following a deliberate Mondegreen:
Do the chairs in your parlor seem empty and bare?
Do you gaze at your bald head and wish you had hair?
- Garth Brooks did this several times during the taping of his Double Live album. One turned "Unanswered Prayers" into an Audience Participation Song.
- Michael Stipe can clearly be heard cracking up on The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight after the line about Dr. Seuss.
- Kurt Cobain unsuccessfully suppresses a chuckle during the second full chorus of "Milk It".
- Paul McCartney stifles laughter while singing the second verse of "Maxwell's Silver Hammer," purportedly because John Lennon -- who was said to have hated the song -- mooned Paul in the recording studio as he sang the line "so he waits behind."
- Bob Dylan cracks up at the start of "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream" because the rest of the band misses the cue and had to start again, and this was kept in the final recording.
- King Crimson's "Indoor Games" ends with vocalist Gordon Haskell breaking into laughter, his explanation being that he thought the lyrics to the song were ridiculous.
- David Bowie at the end of "The Laughing Gnome".
- Mentioned in character in the song One Week by Barenaked Ladies.
"How can I help it if I think you're funny when you're mad, tryin' hard not to smile though I feel bad. I'm the kind of guy who laughs at a funeral, can't understand what I mean, you soon will."
- Literally happens in "If I Had $1,000,000" by the same band during the line about fancy ketchups.
"And we could buy these really expensive ketchups... / (cue giggling on this line) Dijon ketchup! Mmm!"
- An infamous example of corpsing in pro wrestling occurred on an episode of WCW programming where "Macho Man" Randy Savage was having a fit backstage, flipping tables and whatnot. During this segment, he came across a giggling Torrie Wilson, and to stop her from corpsing, he slapped her. Botchamania turned this into a meme:
- footage of Macho Man's backstage rampage*
SEND FOR THE MAN!
- The Rock's rock concert on the March 12th edition of WWE Raw, dissing John Cena, Cena's fans who are grown men (calling them all nerds who dress like Kirk and Spock), and even Cena's mom. The Rock clearly almost trips on his own laughter a few times, and even Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole start losing it towards the end.
- Paul Bearer just barely made it out of the camera's sight before cracking up in this interview before the 1992 Royal Rumble, where he was acting so hammy he made himself laugh. The Undertaker remaining stoic as usual was an impressive feat. Paul Bearer has stated in interviews that he often tried to make Undertaker give in and laugh on camera, though it is unknown how many times he succeeded.
- Paul London was allegedly "Wished the best in his future endeavours" for corpsing during the scene where Vince McMahon's limo got blown up.
- During John Cena's in ring promo with Randy Orton, Kofi Kingston and Mike Tyson when Cena starts talking about Mike Tyson's Punch-Out Orton can be seen crouching down and leaning on the ropes clearly trying not to laugh. Bear in mind he was playing a psychotic villain at the time.
- At Survivor Series 2007 Melina Perez went to perform her normal splits entrance but slipped and fell off the apron. She was playing a heel at the time but burst out laughing straight away and was trying her best to keep a straight face when she performed them again. Beth Phoenix is also giggling for a bit.
- During an in-ring promo between Eve Torres, Beth Phoenix and Natalya, Eve shoves Beth which leads to an unfortunate Wardrobe Malfunction. The camera tries to stay off Natalya who is desperately trying to keep a straight face. She tries to hide it with a look of outrage but some chuckles seep through.
- On several occasions, Kane started laughing his ass off when his ring pyro malfunctionned, making his entrance look somewhat... less dramatic than intended. Making this worse (or better, depending on how you look at it), Kane is supposed to be a sadistic Demon coming straight from Hell.
- During a John Cena promo on the 5/14/12 edition of Raw, GM of both Raw & SmackDown John Laurinaitis could clearly be seen corpsing when Cena starts making faces at him and calling him a "loser".
- Martyn Green recounted a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore that was interrupted when a sudden loud orchestral chord in the number "Carefully On Tiptoe Stealing" startled a theater cat, which ran screaming across the stage. The cast might have been able to recover and carry on with the show, if only the next two lines hadn't been:
CHORUS: "Goodness me, why what was that?"
DICK DEADEYE: "Silent be, it was the cat!"
- And cue complete cast corpsing.
- The play Oblomov is based on a Russian novel about a character who almost never leaves his bed, briefly has a romantic attack, finds out he's incapable of love and goes back to bed. Theatrical presentations would have necessarily been grim had it not been for the most famous presentation casting Spike Milligan as the lead. Milligan proceeded to act up to such an extent that they renamed it Son of Oblomov, and apparently considered it his job to try and corpse his fellow actors whenever possible. Only one - Joan Greenwood - managed to keep her dignity intact despite Milligan doing things like rowing the bed offstage with an imaginary oar or - on one occasion - conscripting the Boulting Brothers (twin filmmakers) to sit in the bed with him for the entire play.
- Rik Mayall and Ade Edmonson are infamous for their corpsing in the Bottom live shows.
- This happened a lot during Kristin Chenoweth's final performance on Wicked.
- Picture it: a tense scene during the second act of Wicked, when Fiyero has his gun trained on the Wizard, Glinda and Elphaba are both telling him to flee, and he admits he loves her and is going to go with her. Cue a little girl in the audience going "Yay!"—clear as a bell and quite loud in the silence. Everyone in the theater busted up—and while the actors were quite professional and did not break character or the scene, the actress playing Elphaba was visibly struggling not to burst out laughing, and giggles were in fact audible. Unsurprisingly, the same was true of Glinda's actress.
- David Tennant and Catherine Tate in the final performances of Much Ado About Nothing seemed to make it their mission to get each other to do this. At one point, during Benedick's monologue following the scene in which he is tricked into believing Beatrice is in love with him, a member of the audience said "Yes!" following the line "Love me? Why it must be requited". David Tennant stopped and laughed before walking over and performing the rest of the speech to the audience member, pausing to allow him to answer "Yes" or "No" to the questions. When Catherine Tate walked on stage, she was clearly trying not to laugh. Later in the play when Beatrice agrees to marry Benedick, the two actors kissed for so long and in such an over the top fashion that the entire cast were visibly having to stifle their laughter.
- Ashens normally keeps a perfect British Stiff Upper Lip, but he has lost it on camera once or twice. One notable time was when he discovered that one of the games in his Pop Station was titled "Chanticleer Hegemony." Another time, when he discovered that the knockoff iPhone he was reviewing had an old-fashion television aerial, he laughed so hard he had to cut the recording.
- The Angry Video Game Nerd released a Hilarious Outtakes video for his Crazy Castle review in which he struggles to keep a straight face during the "muck spread" rant.
- Obscurus Lupa, she of crude humor, made highbrow Oancitizen corpse constantly in their crossover review of Hamlet The Vampire Slayer. This led to her mocking him over having been in film school but not being able to keep a straight face, her giving him tips on it, and him begging her to stop being funny and at one point exclaiming "This person! This person is just like hitting me at certain points in my - neurons and just making me burst out laughing and I don't know how she's doing it, but it's pinpoint! And it's uncontrollable and it's - I'm never working with you again." "Pinky promise!"
- In their comparison video of Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally, you can see The Nostalgia Chick fighting not to crack up when Todd in the Shadows says "Sleepless In Seattle made my balls shrivel" and later ranting at a Sleepless character who just lets his fiancee break up with him.
- Little Kuriboh did a Vagina Monologue remake of the first episode of Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series. He did it all in one cut and makes it about half way through before he broke into a fit of laughter.
- Apparently happened the actress playing Scootaloo in episode 18 of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic during the cringe-worthy rendition of the Cutie Mark Crusaders' Theme Song. Apparently it's hard to catch because it's somewhat covered up by an in-universe fan.
- Voice actor giants Frank Welker and Peter Cullen got in on this during the run of Transformers Generation 1, though it was one-sided (and amusingly, instigated by the one who played the evil leader). Apparently one of Frank's goals while playing Megatron was "to get Peter to laugh water out of his nose."
- Ever watch a war movie where there's always the one guy who starts giggling uncontrollably when Drill Sergeant Nasty is in his face? That happens in real life. All the time. Inappropriate laughter is a not uncommon reaction to stress. There's a reason many scoldings will include the line "wipe that smile off your face".
- Anyone who's ever done live theater can attest to this. It's not that something is funny, it just happens. One of the points of rehearsals is try and get it all out of your system so you don't do it during the show itself.
- Very common in Tyler Perry stage plays.
- Of course, getting it out of your system during rehearsal only helps so much. Sometimes the audience reaction only makes things worse. Especially if you have someone especially loud in the front row who cackles like a chicken at every joke.
- Multiple times, this happens at band rehearsal. When you're standing at attention for five minutes while one squad is fixed, someone's bound to break out in hysterics.
- Anyone who's ever been in a silent classroom - perhaps doing an exam or having to work without speaking.
- Or a church during the sermon or silent prayers/meditation.
- Believe it or not, this is how Elisabeth Sladen met her husband. She was making her first stage appearance at the Liverpool Playhouse - as a corpse, naturally - when a certain young actor, playing the doctor, whispered "respiration nil, Aston Villa two" into her ear. That actor's name was Brian Miller, and she married him three years later.
- You'll occasionally run across a news anchor who can't keep a straight face while delivering grim and gory news reports. Although in the case of this news story, it'd be hard for anyone not to laugh after seeing the crazy-eyed picture of the accused murderer. This one must have been particularly embarrassing for the anchor, who started giggling at his picture while describing how he dismembered his victim.
- This infamous sketch from the Carol Burnett show may be the most extravagant example of (mass!) corpsing on record.