Tension always lingers in the New Jersey air in The Sopranos because of the constant betrayal and murder. Luckily, all this tends to be diluted by the show’s comical moments. Thanks to good writing, there is no deficiency of humor in the critically acclaimed show. Even characters that are ever grim have made fans laugh on one or two occasions.
The show’s funny quotes are unforgettable and unique because they are mostly delivered in an impromptu manner. Just as audiences are hoping for more violence, the mobsters and their associates pull a surprise by cracking intelligent jokes. Some of the quotes aren’t even meant to be jokes, but they still trigger laughter.
When Paulie Relays Tony’s Warning About Valery To Christopher
“The Guy Was An Interior Decorator. He Killed 16 Czechoslovakians.”
Believing they have killed Valery, Paulie and Christopher drive to the Pine Barrens to bury his body, only for him to overpower them and flee. As they are searching for him, Tony calls Paulie to warn him that Valery was once in the Russian Interior Ministry and that he killed 16 Chechen rebels. Since the signal is bad, Paulie mishears him before misquoting him.
Paulie’s quote is golden because he strongly believes in his own words yet they don’t make sense. It’s hard to imagine what would make an interior decorator kill 16 Czechoslovakians. Why specifically them? Christopher even wonders why Valery’s house looked so disorganized if he was indeed an interior decorator.
When Phil Explains How Tony Has Offended Him
“Let Me Tell You A Couple Of Three Things.”
Among Tony Soprano’s most dangerous enemies, Lupertazzi crime family boss, Phil Leotardo, proves to be the most formidable. Initially, his street soldiers don’t see his war against the New Jersey Don as justified, so he sits them down to tell them Tony’s three major sins.
The beauty of Phil’s pronouncement is that it’s grammatically incorrect. The word ‘three’ shouldn’t be in the sentence, but it triggers laughter. Some of the funniest remarks come when a character is trying hard to be completely serious, and that’s the case here with Phil. More interesting is that the three grievances reproduce into 10 grievances as he keeps talking.
When Artie Threatens To Snitch On Benny To His Wife
“Would You Like A Martina? It’s Like A Martini, But It’s From Albania.”
Artie begins feuding with Benny Fazio when both men eye the hostess, Martina. When Benny shows up at the restaurant with his wife, Artie mocks him by offering him a Martina, claiming it’s a Martini from Albania. In reality, there is no such drink.
Watching Benny shake as Artie drops the word ‘Martina’ is hilarious. What’s funnier is that Benny’s wife, Jen, actually believes there is a drink called a Martina. Luckily for Benny, Artie doesn’t explain his words any further. It’s simply his way of letting Benny know that he can mess up his marriage if he wanted to.
When Ralph Mocks Paulie About His Lesser Cut
“Why Not? Last Year You Believed A Flying Saucer Was Over East Rutherford.”
In one of the biggest feuds in The Sopranos, Paulie and Ralph argue over $100,000 that the latter earned from a heist. Paulie believes he deserves half because he provided the intel, but Tony rules that he should be awarded $12,000. Paulie exclaims, claiming he can’t believe the ruling, but Ralph argues he should believe it since he has previously bought into stranger things, such as aliens.
One of the things Ralph enjoys doing the most is indirectly labeling Paulie a dumb person. It’s true that the capo is ruthless but unwise. That he not only allowed Ralph to execute the heist by himself but also trusted him to be honorable is proof of his lack of intelligence. Nonetheless, Ralph risks Paulie’s wrath by constantly throwing verbal jabs at the capo.
As Bobby Reminisces About Hunting With His Father
“One Time We Saw A Sign That Said ‘Bear Left,’ So We Went Home.”
Bobby and Tony go to rescue Paulie and Christopher when they two get stranded in the Pine Barrens. While there, Bobby recalls his hunting days with his dad by making a bear joke.
Bobby’s joke is applause-worthy because he implies that he and his dad enjoyed hunting bears instead of animals like deers. The “Bear Left” sign would mean to keep to the left side of a path or road, but Bobby and his dad took it to mean that the bear had left the woods, so they did too.
When Junior Dismisses Mickey’s Suggestion To Whack Christopher
“Take It Easy. We’re Not Making A Western Here.”
At the height of Junior’s war with Tony, Mickey Palmice suggests whacking Christopher in order to send a message. Junior isn’t impressed, believing Mickey is trying to act too tough.
In the chaotic New York and New Jersey underworlds, most mobsters feel the need to prove to their bosses that they are tough. However, most bosses see through this behavior and consider it lame. Tony even refers to the need to act tough as “Cowboy-itis.” In Mickey’s case, Junior feels he’s trying to be a little to trigger happy like a cowboy or desert outlaw.
When Richie Makes Fun Of Christopher
“That Nose Is Like A Natural Canopy.”
As Richie acquaints himself with the young gangsters, Sean and Matt, he cracks jokes about Christopher. He claims that Christopher is the only man capable of smoking in the rain without using his hands because he has a canopy-like nose.
The ever-serious Richie isn’t known for one-liners, but he outdoes himself with this delivery. Keeping up with his tough-guy image, he cracks the joke without ever looking at Sean and Matt. Regrettably, the duo misinterprets the words as extreme animosity and so they try to kill Christopher in order to impress Richie.
When Big Pussy Gets Carried Away While Doing A Task For The FBI
“Searchlight Diner. 5:15 AM. Subject Has Still Not Left Location. Sun Comin’ Up.”
Big Pussy is undoubtedly one of the best FBI informants in The Sopranos, but he gets carried away when his handler, Skip Lari, tasks him with tailing Christopher. He begins communicating in the same brief manner that special agents do, much to the amusement of the FBI officers who are listening in.
The moment is comical because Big Pussy is delusional. He actually believes he is part of the FBI now. The mobster appears to have forgotten that he is only a turncoat criminal whose work is frowned upon by both law enforcement officers and those in the mafia. The situation gets more interesting when he injures himself while pursuing Christopher.
When Silvio Imitates Michael Corleone From The Godfather
“Just When I Thought I Was Out, They Pulled Me Back In.”
After returning from hiding, Big Pussy begs Silvio to do an impression of Michael Corleone and he does an extremely good one. Michael says the words in the third installment of The Godfather trilogy as he laments how he has been pulled back into the mob when he wanted to pursue legal business ventures.
Silvio doesn’t just repeat Michael Corleone’s words but accompanies them with the right facial and bodily expressions. His impression is so brilliant that even the toughest of mobsters find themselves laughing. The humor aside, the quote is wonderful because it connects two great mob productions.
When Tony Complains About His Bad Luck
“I’m like King Midas In Reverse. Everything I Touch Turns To Sh**.”
During a therapy session with Dr. Melfi, Tony complains how everything he is doing is going wrong. He then compares himself to King Midas, the ancient mythical ruler who turned everything to gold with his touch.
The pop-culture reference is given just enough of a tweak to fit into Tony’s situation. It isn’t exactly true that everything he does ends up badly. Throughout the series, he proves to be quite the competent mob boss. Nonetheless, watching Tony feel sorry for himself triggers laughter more than pity.