So many of the most memorable lines in television comedy lean heavily on the context of the scene, or the setup to the zinger. Archer, for example, builds such rapidly escalating manic energy in its back-and-forth between characters that it takes pinpoint control on behalf of the writers and voiceover artists to land a punchline on a but a single phrase.
Only, sometimes a single phrase is more than The Funny requires. Sometimes, even one word is too much. These are the shows with characters who consistently deliver the goods with one syllable.
13. “BAM!” (Emeril Lagasse—Emeril Live; Elzar—Futurama)
The chef with breathless (and often sweaty) energy could at times appear on the verge of spontaneous human combustion. For the sake of kitchen sanitation, it’s good that that never happened, but his regular shouted exaltation often provided a good jump-scare with that in mind.
Futurama couldn’t resist ribbing Emeril in his ample chops. Multi-limbed, egotistical celebrity alien chef Elzar would lay his “BAM!” down any time it suited him, whether cooking or not.
12. “Well…” (The 10th Doctor—Doctor Who)
Many Whovians would say that, over the decades of regeneration, David Tennant’s 10th Doctor is their favorite. One of the reasons why might have something to do with how much he could get across with only this:
11. “Yyyup!” (Lana Kane—Archer)
Probably the closest thing to a sensible character at her agency—and certainly the best spy—Lana Kane deserves to exploit a shortcut in shutting down the near-continuous (and pointless) arguments with her coworkers. Especially Sterling Archer, who enjoys pushing her buttons so much, it probably comes in just behind alcohol and lacrosse as a hobby.
10. “Zoinks!” (Shaggy—Scooby Doo)
Why the rest of the Scooby Gang keeps Shaggy around is anyone’s guess, what with him being singularly useless as an investigator, as well as a colossal drain on the group’s sandwich-based resources. Way to go, you cowardly hippie—you gave away the gang’s position again with your famous yelp:
9. “Narf!” (Pinky—Animaniacs; Pinky and the Brain)
We’ll never know what horrific experimentation resulted in the duo of power-mad schemer Brain and his partner of more limited intellectual means, Pinky. One side effect, however, seems to have been a vocalized nervous tick for Pinky. It’s like a very specific Tourette’s, worthy of song:
8. “Blerg!” (Liz Lemon—30 Rock)
Much as the “diddly-doodly” gibberish of The Simpsons’ nice guy Ned Flanders actually serves as profanity-replacement, so too is 30 Rock’s Liz Lemon’s monosyllabic blurt a venting of her eternal exasperation.
7. “Sploosh!” (Pam Poovey—Archer)
Even amongst the freakishly oversexed ISIS workforce, HR Director Pam Poovey is the most likely to announce an … appreciation for an individual or overheard conversation she finds arousing.
6. “Aaayyy!” (Arthur Fonzarelli—Happy Days)
Often too cool to use his words, The Fonz could deploy his inimitable catchphrase as subtle warning, appreciation or revelation. (“I’m doing what in this episode? And what’s in the water?! Aaayyy!”)