It may have told the story of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), but the character everyone remembers from Goodfellas was the wildly unhinged gangster Tommy DeVito, portrayed by Joe Pesci. Short-tempered and fast-talking, he and Henry had worked together since they were kids selling cigarettes out of the back of a truck for Jimmy (Robert De Niro). Everyone in the neighborhood knew he was a ‘bad seed,’ but because he was a goodfella, they simply looked the other way — for a while. Eventually, Tommy’s wild and impulsive reputation damned him, but despite that grim end, there’s a lot to love about this outsized character. So, to celebrate Tommy, let’s look at some of his best lines and maybe gain some inspiration for when you need to get a little wild and a little impulsive. Just don’t fly off the handle if someone gives you a compliment and maybe look the other way if they tell you to get your shine box, okay?
“How the f*ck am I funny?”
You know the scene: Tommy, who had everyone hanging on his every word, gets told by Henry that he’s a funny guy. In turn, Tommy questions what he means while growing increasingly hostile each time he asks, turning the laughter that had filled the room into an increasingly uncomfortable silence.
You may ache to get the same response next time you trot out this line, but while you can work to nail Pesci’s delivery and hone your poker face, there’s no one on earth who doesn’t know where these words come from and no way people aren’t going to laugh in your face. So keep a hold of your temper.