The Winters Of Our Content: Remembering Jonathan Winters At His Funniest

Jonathan Winters gas station scene from It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World Jonathan Winters is dead. Long live the king of improv.

The actor/comedian starred in movies like It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming. But it was his unbridled insanity and ad-libbing chops that made him beloved.

I have one such story. It was the 1980’s, I was attending Kenyon College, Winters’ alma mater (or would have been had he not been kicked out.) He came to speak to our drama class. As we settled into our seats, the classroom door burst open. A barrel chested, severe looking man marched to the front of the room, grabbing a pointer along the way.

“Men,” he said, to the men and women in the room. Then pointing to the blank blackboard, “The Nazi’s are over here, and this is where we are.” Winters locked eyes with a confused drama nerd who majored in Shakespeare. “You!” Hamlet jumped out of his seat. “Bring your tanks up along the ravine. Major!” He shouted to the class ingénue, “Have your unit follow him over the ridge.” She nodded, though she wasn’t sure what she was agreeing to.

After about 20 minutes, Winters had given each of us our marching orders, wished us the best of luck against the German Panzers, then stormed out of the room with a swagger befitting Patton.

For those unlucky enough not to have experienced a performance by Winters— impromptu or otherwise—here are some that were caught on celluloid.

The best of Jonathan Winters’ improv and sketch comedy

Jonathan Winters in It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Jonathan Winters roasts Ronald Reagan (as an old woman)

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Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane.

Dennis Miller

I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”

Kevin Nealon

“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
—Everyone following you on Instagram

@kristencarney

A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.

Comedian Greg Davies

Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.

@sixthformpoet

Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.

From clientsfromhell.net

My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
everything you know.”

@NicCageMatch

“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 
—Alcohol

@yoyoha (Josh Hara)

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

—Jerry Seinfeld

Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic.

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