Jim Carrey Improvised the Most Memorable Joke in ‘Dumb and Dumber’

Perhaps Jim Carrey isn’t quite the box office draw today as he was at his peak. But there’s no question he’s a comedy icon. An entire generation grew up with his rubber-faced, manic comic sensibility. His classic films, such as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective — a role he nearly lost to a surprising Ghostbusters star — bring such a distinctive presence to the screen, buoyed by Carrey’s background in stand-up comedy. In fact, some fans might not realize he improvised perhaps the most memorable joke in one of his most beloved movies, Dumb and Dumber.

Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels smile as they ride a bike in 'Dumb & Dumber'
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels | New Line Cinema

Jim Carrey starred in three huge hit movies in 1994

Throughout the 1980s, Carrey struggled to hit it big in Hollywood. Those early years consist mostly of supporting roles in mainstream movies, such as Francis Ford Coppola’s Peggy Sue Got Married and Clint Eastwood’s The Dead Pool. But it turned out Carrey’s biggest breaks were actually on television. Short-lived series The Duck Factory gave him a way into Hollywood, and a few years later, Fox’s sketch comedy series In Living Color gave him room to shine.

A proven standout on In Living Color, Carrey parlayed that notoriety into another chance at becoming a leading man. And in 1994, he ended up starring in three hit comedies in the same calendar year. February saw Ace Ventura: Pet Detective make him a household name, followed by The Mask just a few months later. Finally, Dumb and Dumber closed out Carrey’s year, earning him a $7 million paycheck and one of the world’s biggest comedy stars.

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Jeff Daniels confirmed his co-star improvised 1 bit

As much as Carrey’s epic year could be chalked up to just good fortune, the actor committed wholeheartedly to each project. According to his Dumb and Dumber co-star Jeff Daniels, Carrey was an instrumental creative voice in making that movie as funny as possible. He worked with Daniels and directors Bobby and Peter Farrelly to elevate a joke time and again. And as Daniels told GQ, Carrey would sometimes even surprise them with a bit of improv.

“There were moments, very few, where Jim would go off. And one of the few was, ‘You wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world?’ That was in the middle of a take, what’s he doing? ‘Eeeeehhh’ and then he does it, and I just repeated what he was doing, because when in doubt, repeat Jim. And that was kind of it, that was – I don’t remember other improv stuff.”

Indeed, that moment still stands out as a fan-favorite even more than 20 years after the movie’s release. Carrey would go on to stretch his dramatic muscles in subsequent years, even earning some major awards. But Daniels’ revelation likely helps fans appreciate just how powerful Carrey’s comedy can be when he’s firmly in that zone.

Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels reunited for a sequel

Of course, Dumb and Dumber fans got the chance to revisit Harry (Daniels) and Lloyd (Carrey) 20 years later. The two actors reunited with the Farrelly brothers for a sequel, titled Dumb and Dumber To, in 2014. Unfortunately, the movie wasn’t nearly as warmly received as its predecessors, earning mostly negative reviews.

Still, Daniels and Carrey’s unique chemistry is still present in the second film. And while its box office performance likely isn’t enough to push a third film out into the world, at least fans got an extra taste of Dumb and Dumber. Next up for Carrey? Another sequel, this time to his 2020 blockbuster hit Sonic the Hedgehog.

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