Top 10 Hilarious Moments from 1988’s Coming to America

Julien Neaves, Editor

Tomorrow (March 5) is the premiere of Coming 2 America on Amazon Prime Video. The film is the sequel to classic romcom Coming to America from 1988. And yeah, the name of the sequel is so close to the original that it keeps coming up when I’m trying to search for the first one online.

In anticipation of the belated sequel I will be revisiting the original film which tells the story of Prince Akeem Joffer (Eddie Murphy) who travels from his fictional African nation of Zamunda with his manservant Semmi (Arsenio Hall) to find a wife in Queens, New York. In lieu of a review (the movie is one of the best comedies ever, so that seems redundant) I will be counting down the top 10 funniest moments. With what should be an obvious SPOILER ALERT let’s get to it:

Honourable Mention: Darryl Who?

This moment is more sweet than funny but I just had to include it as an honourable mention. While dancing with Akeem and realising she has fallen for him, Lisa (the lovely Shari Headley) asks him what about her sister Patrice? He replies he’s not interested in Patrice. She then asks what about her ex Darryl? He replies, “I’m not interested in Darryl either.” It’s simple word play and a little cheesy but man I love it. Now on to the top 10!

#10 Best Eddie Character Moment: Saul and the Spoon

Murphy played four characters in the film: Akeem, awful singer Randy Watson, loudmouthed barber Clarence, and Jewish barbershop fly Saul. All of them have great moments (more on Randy later) but Murphy just disappears into Saul. And his corny post-credits joke about the waiter and the spoon makes me crack a smile every time. You don’t like it? What do you know from funny, yuh bastard? Classic!

#9 Best Semmi Diss: Taking Down Sam Jack

Spoiled manservant Semmi spends the entire movie complaining and being less than helpful. His insults and jibes are usually reserved for Akeem, but after he and the Prince take down a foul-mouthed robber in McDowell’s (a pre-fame Samuel L. Jackson) he delivers a whopper of a line—“Freeze you diseased rhinoceros pizzle!” I really need to work that one into casual conversation.

#8 Best Sight Gag: Soul Glo Parents

The film has a few sight gags. You have Akeem and Semmi in the airport and Akeem saying he does not want anyone to know he is royalty, despite being dressed in expensive furs and lavish gold chains. And you also have the scene in Queens (hey, that rhymes) of people stealing their luggage and then later walking about wearing their royal clothes. And don’t forget Akeem and Semmi’s horrible apartment with both a human chalk outline and a dog chalk outline. Hilarious.

But for me the best is when Darryl’s parents and grandmother get up from the couch at the McDowells and it is stained with Soul Glo. Now that is gree-sy! And pretty dang funny too. Their souls glowed a little too much.

#7 Best Royal Treatment: Cleanest Penis

The opening of the film has several scenes depicting how pampered Akeem is, down to having a servant to brush his teeth and another servant to wipe his face after. He even has one to wipe his butt after using the toilet. But the best, and the most memorable, is the…ahem…Royal penis washers. The line, “The Royal penis is clean” cracks me up every time.

#6 Best Musical Moment: Sexual Chocolate

Don’t tell me you’re a fan of soul music and you don’t know who Randy Watson is? Now rewatching the film, Randy is actually not that bad of a singer, but he is an awful performer. And he clearly soaks his hair in Soul Glo at night and gets his outfits from rummaging through Prince’s (the late singer, not Akeem) salvation army boxes. The combination of Sweets the Barber (Clint Smith) being convinced “that boy good” and Randy practically begging the audience for applause just makes this scene gold. And Sexual Chocolate has to be greatest name for a band ever. EVER!

#5 Best Arsenio Character Moment: EUG the Maneater

Like Murphy, Hall also played four different characters in the film: Semmi, the licentious Reverend Brown, Morris the barber, and Extremely Ugly Girl (yes, that’s the character’s name). Now while the Reverend and Morris get more screen time I have to give this moment to Extremely Ugly Girl or EUG for short. During a visit to a bar to find a potential bride Akeem and Semmi meet a bunch of strange ladies, including a devil worshipper, an alcoholic with a voracious sexual appetite, recently separated Siamese twins, rapping twins, and a woman who thinks she’s Joan of Arc.

But the last woman, EUG, is the icing on the crazy cake. EUG tells Akeem he could “eat him up” and then says “and your little friend too” indicating Semmi. I dare you not to laugh when Semmi spits out his drink in response. It is just pitch perfect. And it is even funnier because Arsenio is technically flirting with himself.

#4 Best Cuss Out: To Be Loved (F— you!)

I would not recommend any tourism body in Queens using this film in their promotional material as they present the New York borough as filthy, crime-ridden and full of ill-tempered residents. When Akeem shouts “Good morning” someone responds with “f— you!” and he replies with “f— you too!” Apparently they don’t have the f-word in Zamunda.

But this entry goes to the scene where Akeem is deliriously happy after his date with Lisa and their first kiss. He expresses his euphoria by singing (badly) lines from Jackie Wilson’s To Be Loved, the song that was playing while they danced and smooched. But the Queens residents were less than pleased about it, telling him to shut up repeatedly. When he continues singing a man shouts “Shut the f— up!” I guess they don’t appreciate romance in that neighbourhood.

#3 Best Arsenio Reaction: Semmi Scream

As seen above Arsenio Hall had some great moments in this film. But my favourite has to be this scene when King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones) and the royal entourage turn up at the apartment. Hall’s scream is a gut buster! And then his quick recovery is just delightful. It’s a very short moment but it is a strong one. I also liked when the King tells him his punishment includes being bathed (we all know what that means) and he happily thanks him but then has to feign being sorrowful.

#2 Best Routine: Akeem in, Darryl out!

John Amos as Cleo McDowell is a bit of an unsung hero of the film. He may be outshone by the bigger stars but he does deliver on a couple of great comedic moments. I enjoyed when Akeem is trying to bond with him by talking about a football match despite not knowing much about the sport. Mr McDowell assumes his rambling is because he’s on drugs and tells him to lay off them.

But his best moment comes near the end at his home. After learning Akeem is a prince he tries to keep him there so the King and Queen can come and find him. But he forgot that he invited Darryl over to try and make up with Lisa. When he first answers the door he just slams it in Darryl’s face with a look of disgust. When Darryl rings the bell again he returns to the door and tells him to get it through his greasy head that she doesn’t want him any more and slams the door again. But Darryl can’t take a hint and rings the doorbell yet again. Mr McDowell is so pissed that he falls over while heading to the door in a nice bit of physical comedy. And at this point he resorts to extreme measures and sics his cute dog Dottie on him. This scene, aided by some whimsical music, just gets funnier and funnier and makes my number two in this list.

#1 Best Fourth Wall Break: Bark Like a Dog

Coming to America is a very grounded comedy overall but you do have a couple of quick fourth wall breaks. You have one close to the end when Patrice (Allison Dean) tells Darryl (Eriq La Salle) they need to get him out of his wet clothes and Darryl knowingly looks at the camera.

But the better break comes near the beginning of the film when Akeem interviews his arranged bride Imani Izzi (Vanessa Bell). After many failed attempts to learn about her personal likes and realising that she will do whatever he tells her, Akeem asks her to bark like a dog. When she does he turns and looks at the camera with exasperation and a look that says “Can you believe this sh–?” The scene only gets funnier as he then commands her to bark like a big dog, then an orangutan, and then to hop on one foot. It is one of the most memorable scenes in the film and for me it’s the funniest.

So that’s my list. What’s your favourite funny moment in Coming to America? For my Top 10 Seriously Funny Moments in Airplane! you can click here. Or for more out of this world comedy you can check out my Top 10 Ludicrous Moments in Spaceballs by clicking here.

B0FC059B-BBEE-47CF-90E4-D588C1BACD93 Julien “Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. I can also be found posting about TV and movie memes, news and trailers on Facebook at Movieville. And to stay on top of all Redmangoreviews articles you can like and follow us on Facebook here.