Today marks the 15th anniversary of the series premiere of "The Sopranos," a drama so layered, so fantastically written and acted, that it more than holds up over the years. Seriously, if you're looking for a show to rewatch, or check out for the first time, during these blustery polar-vortex days that are keeping us all stuck inside in much of the country, pop in a "Sopranos" DVD.
And while what is among the best TV dramas of all time awaits you, let's not forget that "The Sopranos" was also rife with dark humor, including some silly moments, some (OK, maybe most) completely politically incorrect moments, and some moments that just shouldn't have been funny, but were (Ralph Cifaretto's head in the bowling ball bag? C'mon).
Here, a roundup of five of our favorite "Sopranos" funny moments, from Tony's (James Gandolfini) gem of a nickname for (almost) brother-in-law Richie Aprile to Christopher and Paulie Walnuts' classic misadventure in the woods.
Psycho mobster Richie (David Proval) was a thorn in Tony's side from the moment he got out of prison and expected to jump right back into "this thing of ours." Add in his relationship with the equally nutso Janice (Aida Turturro), Tony's big sister, and his insistence on engaging in practices that put the whole Soprano crew in jeopardy, and that brings us to this conversation in Season 2's "House Arrest," in which Tony yet again is forced to look Richie in his scary peepers and tell him to knock it off. (Oh, in case we need to remind you, the language in the clips below is so NSFW.)
Given the lengths to which Tony went, initially, to keep his "family" from finding out he was talking to a therapist, it was not difficult to predict that this particular group of people would not exactly be thrilled to be called into action for an intervention … until they realized it was really just a fancy term that amounted to them getting the chance to, with all due respect to Frank Costanza, air their grievances with each other. It was drug-addicted Christufuh (Michael Imperioli) who was the subject of the intervention, but in this scene from Season 4's "The Strong, Silent Type," no one is spared once the ball gets rolling, and the whole thing ends in, well, the E.R.
The Rat Pack
In Season 4's "Whitecaps," Tony wants to back out of a real estate deal with lawyer Alan Sapinsly, who then refuses to return Tony's $200,000 deposit. The smug Sapinsly may be a shark, but he has no idea who he's dealing with: Tony gets some of his crew to float his boat in front of Sapinsly's beachfront home and blast a Dean Martin concert loudly, via a set of speakers, while Sapinsly is hosting a dinner party. We have no doubt Tony would have escalated it even further if necessary, but this was one of the best, and funniest, examples of how clever the mob boss could be without resorting to violence.
"Saw" Meets "The Godfather"
In Season 6's "Mayham," Christopher and Little Carmine (Ray Abruzzo) — you know, the producer of the "South Beach Strumpet" series of adult entertainment films — had Hollywood dreams, so Christopher got indebted writer J.T. Dolan (Tim Daly) to pen a horror flick he and Carmine pitched to the rest of the Soprano crew as an investment opportunity. The film's title: "Pork Store Killer" (ultimately changed to "Cleaver"), about "a wiseguy with a big mouth and bigger dreams."
The Pine Barrens
Season 3's "Pine Barrens," in which Paulie (Tony Sirico) and Christopher get lost in the woods while dealing with a Russian mobster/Russian special forces vet who owes Silvio money, is considered by most "Sopranos" fans to be one of the series' best, and it's because of the bumbling duo the pair became while trying to survive a cold night in the wilderness, arguing over Tic Tacs and blaming each other for the mess they were in. Bonus funny moments in the ep, which was directed by "Sopranos"/"Boardwalk Empire" star Steve Buscemi: Tony's comare, Gloria, throwing a cooked steak at his head, and Tony's reaction when Bobby Bacala shows up in his hunting outfit.
"The Sopranos: The Complete Series" DVD is available on HBO Home Video, and episodes can be streamed online at Amazon Prime and HBO GO.