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“How Am I So Funny” Scene from GoodFellas
Transcript of “How Am I So Funny” Scene from GoodFellas
Take Joe Pesci's hot-head mobster, Tommy DeVito. After cracking up a table of career criminals with a violent anecdote, Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) tells him he's "a funny guy." The mood immediately drops. Tommy begins interrogating his friend about the comment. "Like a clown? Like I make you laugh? How am I funny?" Scorsese invites the viewer to enjoy his character's good humor, then, on a dime, shifts to tense throat-in-the-chest anxiety — and back again. In one scene, Scorsese demonstrates how totally seductive a sharpened sense of humor can be, and how we so often use our appreciation of that quality to skate over the larger fissures in a character's personality.
Reverse Engineering a Project
GoodFellas is a 1990 American crime film directed by Martin Scorsese. It is a film adaptation of the 1986 non-fiction book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, who co-wrote the screenplay with Scorsese. The film follows the rise and fall of Lucchese crime family associate Henry Hill and his friends over a period from 1955 to 1980.
"Wiseguy" by Nicholas Pileggi
Robert De Niro
September 19, 1990
"How am I funny?" is a scene from Martin Scorsese's 1990 film, GoodFellas. The scene consists of a group of gangsters, who calls themselves "wise guys", in a bar having drinks and sharing jokes, which suddenly turned into a conflict...supposedly.
Before we go into discussion about this particular scene, lets check out the film summary.
How was it put together?
The "You think I'm funny?" scene was based on a story that Joe Pesci acted out for Martin Scorsese. While working in a restaurant as a young man, Pesci once told a mobster that he was funny and the mobster became very angry. Scorsese allowed Pesci and Ray Liotta to improvise the scene. He did not tell the other actors in the scene what would happen because he wanted their genuine surprised reactions.
If you look at the extras in the background, you can see that their reactions wasn't an act. This is demonstrated when the extras are looking off stage for a directors signal.
The Run Down
35 to 45 camera angles
The setting of the scene was in a restaurant, dim mood lights
Depicts how mobsters would be in a restaurant, light on table, expensive liquor, ashtrays and cigarettes
There were no women at the table so it would seem as if it was a guys pre-drink or it was after a business meeting
The word "fuck" was used 26 times in this one scene
The scene went from humor to suspense, back to humor, then to suspense and terror and find its way back round to humor when Tommy jokingly fights Henry for calling him "funny".
The scene—is based on an actual event that happened to Pesci.
It was worked on in rehearsals where Pesci and Liotta improvised and Scorsese recorded 4–5 takes, rewrote their dialogue and inserted it into the script, therefore all the actors besides the two, were unaware of the joke and their natural, unscripted reactions were recorded
Being that the other actors in the scene were unaware of the script, their genuine surprised reactions were evoked which made the scene more dramatic and realistic, and that structure served its purpose because the scene was based on a true event.
This particular scene vividly depicts the conventional characteristics of a mobster, especially Tommy's character: showing how it can be fun and games one second and the next second it's violence; the highroller lifestyle, having a $7000 bar tab (in the 80s?); and doing whatever they please without consequences or repercussions.