Ron Burgundy is one of the most iconic and memorable movie characters that comedy has ever given us. As soon as Anchorman came out in 2004, the whole of comedy changed in a more absurdist and alternative and meta direction, and it’s all thanks to that character.
Will Ferrell nails both the Walter Cronkite-esque newsman voice and the absurdity of conversing with a dog. We may never get to see an Anchorman 3, as writer-director Adam McKay has said that after the second one, they have no more left to say about the character. Still, here are his 15 greatest quotes to lighten your mood.
15. “I need all of you to stop what you’re doing and listen…Cannonball!!”
Usually movies transition from one scene to another with a simple cut. Adam McKay got creative.
He closed in on Ron’s mustachioed mouth making this bold announcement — “Ladies and gentlemen, can I please have your attention? I’ve just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story. I need all of you to stop what you’re doing and listen.” — after the opening scenes introduced him as a news anchor.
The audience is thinking, Oh, cool, this is the inciting incident of the movie. The story’s about the start. This is the action. But no, it’s just a pool party! Ron’s wearing a speedo and he’s about to cannonball into the pool. Plus, this scene is also a classic example of Ron commanding attention for anything he does.
14. “I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly.”
By his own admission, Ron Burgundy’s three loves in life are “poetry, and a glass of scotch, and, of course, my friend Baxter.” This quote is a beautifully simplistic thing to say when you’re enjoying the second one. Everyone has their own favorite drink — not everyone’s is scotch — but this line only works with a glass of scotch.
One might consider taking up scotch, purely so they could say this line when they’re drinking it. The lackadaisical and infantile attitude with which Ron says this also matches the fact that he’s drinking a glass of scotch in the middle of the day at work.
And this doesn’t necessarily make him an alcoholic — it was the ‘70s, everyone was drinking hard liquor at work and loving it. They didn’t know about the dangers of it back then. We still don’t let it bother us now!
13. “Hey, gang, you know what would make this great day even better? Perms for everyone!”
The first Anchorman movie captured every element of its time period — California in the 1970s — perfectly. From its depiction of the sexism in the media to the culture of pool parties and swinging and gathering around together to tune into the news every night to hang off the anchor’s every word.
It was a time before smartphones and other news outlets. But you could argue that the character of Ron Burgundy himself was better suited to the ‘80s setting of the sequel. Okay, he did struggle with the progression of African-Americans as a black woman was his new boss.
But other than that, he was right at home in the ‘80s culture — he even embraced the rise of crack cocaine — with the glamor and flair…and perms!!
12. “It’s so hard for a proud Mexican to get a taxi in this city!”
For some reason, Ron Burgundy believes he is Mexican. When he and Veronica are sitting in their boss Mack Tannen’s (Harrison Ford) office, Tannen asks Ron, “What are you, Finnish?” to which Ron replies, “Oddly enough, I’m full blown 100% Mexican. Straight out of the state of Oaxaca.”
Then Veronica reminds him, “No, you’re not, Ron!” It’s yet another example of the wonderfully absurdist sense of humor that the Anchorman movies have. It’s a hallmark of the work of their creators, Adam McKay and Will Ferrell, and it’s just great.
When trying to hail a cab toward the end of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, in the climactic scene on his way to his son Walter’s recital, Ron gets annoyed that none are stopping for him and says, “it’s so hard for a proud Mexican to get a taxi in this city!”
11. “I’m blind!!”
Trust Ron Burgundy to make a terrible disability hysterically funny. When he’s blinded in the sequel and his news team come out to visit him in the lighthouse he’s now living in, he offers them “Triscuits and some pimento loaf, still hot off the griddle.”
But he actually gives them checkers and chalk. He then describes his daily routine to the guys, which makes less and less sense to them the more he says about it. “Every day begins about the same. I wake up screaming in terror because of the blackness and I think I’m dead.”
Champ, Brian, and Brick are confused by some of the things Ron is saying about the things he’s done, because he would’ve felt them in his hands before it was too late, but he has the same answer every time. “I’m blind,” he explains, “I’ve eaten everything from nails to drink coasters. One time, I bit hard into a marble ashtray, thinking it was a savory waffle. I wanted that waffle so bad! Completely shattered my teeth.”
They ask him, “couldn’t you tell the ashtray wasn’t hot like a waffle?”And Ron replies, “no! I couldn’t! Because I’m blind! I’m not blind 23 hours a day or 22 hours a day, I’m blind the whole goddamn time!”
10. “They named it San Diego, which of course, in German, means ‘a whale’s vagina.”
The narrator of Anchorman describes Ron Burgundy like this: “he had a voice that could make a wolverine purr and suits so fine they made Sinatra look like a hobo.” But the man is nothing without his city.
While he made the switch to New York in the sequel, in the first Anchorman, he was one of many proud San Diegoite (San Diego-ins? San Diego-ans? San Diegans?) and he tried to use his knowledge of the city to impress his co-anchor Veronica Corningstone after she had just moved out there.
He told her that San Diego was “discovered by the Germans in 1904,” and that “they named it San Diego, which of course, in German, means ‘a whale’s vagina.’” It’s one of the most hilarious random things in a movie full of hilariously random things.
9. “It’s so damn hot. Milk was a bad choice.”
This quote weirdly epitomizes the downfall of Ron Burgundy. He’s been fired from his job as the Channel 4 news anchor, the only thing that gave his life purpose, and he’s let himself go. His clothes are in ruins, his once perfect hair has been reduced to a mess, and he’s grown a beard out. He bumps into his old news team and they refuse to talk to him.
Ron has hit rock bottom. Except whereas in these situations, the dejected character would usually be knocking back big sips from a bottle of bourbon or tequila, Ron is taking swigs from a carton of milk. He’s getting white stains in his beard and yells out, “it’s so damn hot! Milk was a bad choice!”
8. “You know I don’t speak Spanish! In English, please.”
Ron’s whole conversation with his trusty dog Baxter is so wonderfully absurdist in its style, as is all the best stuff written by Adam McKay and Will Ferrell. Only those guys could come up with something this ridiculous that’s also this hilarious.
“What? You pooped in the refrigerator? And you ate the whole…wheel of cheese? How’d you do that? Heck, I’m not even mad. That’s amazing. How about we get you in your PJs and we hit the hay?”
And it’s not simply a matter of Ron understanding what Baxter’s barks mean. He relays the profundity of what Baxter is saying — calling him “a miniature Buddha, covered in hair” — without actually revealing what it is.
Baxter is the expository sidekick who provides emotional support in comedy, except the ingenious twist here is that you don’t actually get to hear what that support is, only that Ron is comforted by it.
7. “You are a smelly pirate hooker. Why don’t you go back to your home on Whore Island?”
Ron Burgundy comes up with the most inventive insults. For example, “I’m going to punch you in the ovary.” If you’re going to be in an argument with someone, you might as well be creative. It packs more of a punch that way.
The insult or threat has more impact if it’s something the person has never heard before — Ron Burgundy introduced us to that notion when he called Veronica Corningstone “a smelly pirate hooker.” No one would ever have thought to put those three words together before Anchorman.
It’s not enough for Ron to just call his opponent a whore — he has to phrase it as, “why don’t you go back to your home on Whore Island?” Of course, Veronica wins the argument by telling Ron that he has “bad hair.” This sets off an atomic bomb mushroom cloud in his eyes that leads him to physically attack her.
6. “I don’t know if you heard me counting. I did over a thousand.”
Ron’s vain attempts to impress Veronica are ludicrous. He calls her into his office and when she comes in, he’s sitting there with his shirt off, doing bicep curls and counting a ridiculous amount. “One thousand and one, one thousand and two, one thousand and three…” She says, “Uh, Mr. Burgundy? Helen said that you needed to see me.”
And then Ron, although he did call her in and she herself just acknowledged that, casually says, “oh, Miss Corningstone. I wasn’t expecting company. Just doing my workout. Tuesday’s arms and back.” She then reminds him, “Well, you asked me to come by, sir.” He replies, “Oh, did I?”
Then he changes the subject to his muscles in an attempt to impress her. “Ohh, it’s a deep burn. Oh, it’s so deep. Oh, I can barely lift my right arm, ‘cause I did so many. I don’t know if you heard me counting. I did over a thousand.”
It’s really desperate and pathetic, and the great thing is that Veronica can tell. She knows exactly what’s going on, while Ron still thinks he’s being really impressive.
5. “Go fuck yourselves, San Diego.”
There was a debate between this quote and “stay classy” over which one to include, but it had to be this one. When Veronica is looking to get revenge against Ron, she is told that he’ll read anything off the teleprompter, so she tampers with it and we only see what she changed it to as Ron says it. The brilliance of the gag is the way in which Ferrell says it.
He says, “go fuck yourselves, San Diego,” with exactly the same degree of confidence and warmth that he would say his usual sign-off, “you stay classy, San Diego.” Except this one leaves everyone in the station in shock. But to add to the humor, Ron himself doesn’t even realize he’s said it and he just gets on with his day until someone tells him.
4. “I immediately regret this decision.”
At the end of the first Anchorman movie, Veronica is pushed into the bear pit at the San Diego Zoo, and Ron comes to her rescue. In the heat of the moment, he decides to jump into the bear pit to save her. He lands on his feet, looks around at a bunch of growling grizzly bears advancing on him, and says, “I immediately regret this decision.”
Luckily, Baxter comes to their rescue and informs the bears, “leave these people alone. They mean you no harm.” The bear tells him, “go in peace.” Baxter says, “I will tell tales of your compassion,” and the bear replies, “fare thee well, Baxter. You shall always be friend of the bears.”
This quote is one of the most applicable Ron Burgundy quotes in real life. Everyone has had a moment where they’ve done something in the heat of the moment and then instantly thought to themselves, “I immediately regret this decision.”
3. “That escalated quickly.”
This was the moment that Anchorman changed the face of comedy, and that’s no small feat. It’s no exaggeration. This might seem like a simple funny scene in a movie, but it was actually groundbreaking in its day.
All the various news teams in San Diego get into a brutal battle in which the main rule is “no touching of the hair or face,” although tridents and hand grenades are allowed. It’s a funny scene, one of the best in the movie, and comedies up until this point would have left it at that.
But Adam McKay and Will Ferrell felt that there was more comedy gold to be wrung out of that towel, so they cut to back at the news station, where Ron and the guys are discussing what happened. Ron recommends that Brick stay at a safe house for a while after killing someone, adding real world consequences to what would’ve been a throwaway gag. Ever since then, comedy has been constantly referencing its own ridiculousness — just look at It’s Always Sunny to see the influence.
2. “I’m in a glass case of emotion!”
In her bestselling book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and Other Concerns — a must-read if you’re a standup comedian — Mindy Kaling lists this scene as the number one moment in comedy of all time. This scene comes right after an angry Jack Black has kicked Baxter off the side of a bridge and he’s presumed dead.
This worries Ron, who thinks that his trusty canine sidekick is dead, and he’s so devastated that he has to call into the station and tell them he won’t be able to read the news that night, giving way to Veronica being the lead anchor. As Kaling writes, it’s “one of the funniest, most theatrical displays of grief I’ve ever seen. It’s like grief with a capital G.”
She writes, “there’s a heightened style of acting that Will Ferrell and Adam McKay employ in their movies that is incredibly difficult to pull off. If done poorly, heightened comedy acting can seem like you’re watching an inadvertently campy kids’ production of 12 Angry Men. But it is Will Ferrell’s sweet spot.”
1. “I don’t know how to put this, but I’m kind of a big deal.”
This is the most iconic quote in Anchorman lore. It’s because it was the scene in which Ron first met his love, Veronica Corningstone. He clearly uses his fame to get a lot of women, and he’s finally found his match in a feisty woman who doesn’t recognize him.
Suddenly he’s caught off guard and he doesn’t know what to say. But he likes her and he keeps trying to pathetically impress her. “I don’t know how to put this, but I’m kind of a big deal.” In a condescending tone, she says, “really?” He adds, “people know me.” She sarcastically says, “well, I’m very happy for you.”
He then goes one step further. “I’m very important,” he says. “I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.”
It’s a wonderful insight into the character of Ron Burgundy. We find that he’s a shallow asshole when he’s not presenting the news and that he uses his fame to impress women — then he falls in love with the one woman who doesn’t fall for his tricks.