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The 10 best comedy muggers, from Jim Carrey to Kristen Wiig

Jim Carrey in Ace Venture

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Sometimes, comedy is very clever wordplay. Sometimes, it’s a fart. Sometimes, it’s a carefully crafted misunderstanding building to an embarrassingly awkward revelation, and other times, it’s a caustic one-liner perfectly timed. Then, there are those occasions when someone’s face can make you laugh without saying anything. It can be a reaction to that clever wordplay, a response to a fart, or the instant of that revelation about what’s actually going on in a situation, and it can even just be straight-up clowning around. Whether it’s rubber-faced mugging or withering glares, some comic actors can sell you on the funny without a word. Let’s take a look at ten of the best comedy faces of all time, in no particular order.

1. Jim Carrey

Let’s get this one out of the way, as he tends to be the first guy you think of when you think about wacky faces. The “Ace Ventura” movies were certainly an exercise in crazy contortionism, but his time on “In Living Color” and even his old stand-up act showcased just how rubber-faced this rubberface really is. It’s just amazing what this guy can do with his mug, not to mention the rest of his body, in the service of a laugh.

2. Lucille Ball

Oh, there was so much to love about Lucy, not the least of which was her ability to bring an audience – hell, a nation of “I Love Lucy” viewers to laughter with nothing but a look. Wide-eyed realizations about misunderstandings she’d had with Ricky or crazy hijinks with Fred and Ethel, she could bring that comedy home with her face just as much as with her famously husky voice. Here’s an example of how talented she was without the use of words.

3. Jerry Lewis

You wouldn’t have had Jim Carrey without Jerry Lewis. He was the wildly zany madman to Dean Martin’s unflappable cool cat, and that made them one of the most legendary comedy teams of all time, starring in movies, television and even comic books. Lewis eventually became popular enough to soar off on his own as a comedy icon. Take a look at this selection from the old Colgate Comedy Hour, when his face is constantly contorting as he wreaks havoc with the cameramen and all the behind-the-scenes folks. You can’t not laugh at this guy.

4. Marty Feldman

Some faces are just so strange that just their mere existences can elicit a startled laugh. Feldman was a brilliant writer and performer, but his most memorable trait came from the Graves’ ophthalmopathy he was afflicted with that caused his eyes to protrude and be misaligned. Rather than let this hold him back, he turned it into a career in show business – most memorably as Igor in “Young Frankenstein.” He was a contemporary and colleague of the Monty Python crew, co-writer of the famous “Four Yorkshiremen” sketch for “At Last the 1948 Show,” and he did a great deal of non-verbal comedy – such as this sketch, wherein he channels Harpo Marx.

5. Bill Cosby

You want mugging, Mr. Cosby will give you mugging. One of the most enduringly creative stand-up comedians of all time, still working hard and getting it done today nearing the age of 75, The Cos has had one of the most malleable mugs you’ve ever seen on television, and it’s on full display whenever he sits down with a microphone to tell some stories to audiences full of appreciative people. It’s also immortalized forever on one of the most popular TV sitcoms ever, Ye Olde “Cosby Show,” which you can see for yourself in this clip of Heathcliff Huxtable relating the saga of his daughter’s crappy car.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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