The Art of the Maniacal Laugh

Throughout the history of radio, television and film – there is an act that can often propels a character in pop culture fame. The maniacal laugh.

For defining purposes, the maniacal laugh is different from an evil laugh, because a maniacal laugh has an inherent quality of insanity added to it. This insane laughter strikes fear into the hearts of the viewer/listener, because nothing is more frightening than someone off their rocker with an evil agenda.

Some of my favorite iconic maniacal laughs :

3. Ursula from The Little Mermaid – There was something about Ursula, laughing maniacally after stealing Ariel’s voice (coughsoulcough) that struck fear and thrill into my heart when I was a kid. Her laugh was so deep and resonate for a woman, it really made an early impression on me.

2. Heath Ledger as The Joker – Ledger’s performance as the Joker featured a buffet of laughs, from the sarcastic “Ha. He he. Ho ha.” to the uncontrolled guffaws as he gets the crap beat out of him, Ledger’s laughs chill to the bone, and are definitely mania incarnate.

1. Wicked Witch of the West- With her high pitched cackle, The Wicked Witch of the West practically pioneered the maniacal laugh in film. Who, as a child, didn’t have nightmares of this green fiend coming after you, and your unwitting canine companion? (Apologies for the poor video quality)

All in all, I will always love me some great maniacal laughter from my favorite villains. Here’s a great montage video of the top 100 laughs in cinema:

– E.B.


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