Turns Out Modern Family's Longest-Running Gag Was a Complete Accident
The best comedy always comes from improv.
Contrary to popular belief, there's not much room for ad-libbing on the sets of most popular sitcoms. They're usually filmed to very tight schedules, sometimes with audience participation, and it's rarely possible to come up with something on the fly. But when the actors manage to do so, it is always a great pleasure.
There are many reports that the greatest jokes on The Office or The Big Bang Theory were improvised during the filming. Modern Family, however, is said to have upped the ante, turning an on-set accident into one of the show's longest-running jokes.
Remember when Ty Burrell's Phil Dunphy had a constant problem with one of the steps on the family's staircase? Well, it turns out the actor improvised the joke for the first time, thanks to his comedic instincts really kicking in.
What's never been specified is whether the actor's improvisation was just a thought about Phil tripping over something all the time, or a real-life slip that was gracefully turned into a great joke. If the latter was the case, we are fortunate that the initial incident led Burrell to one of the show's greatest improv moments and not the emergency room.
We don't know if the problem with the step was fixed on a real set, but we certainly hope it didn't put any members of the Dunphy family or their off-screen guests in any more danger.
In the show, however, the first person to claim victory over the broken step is Phil's wife, Claire. But her efforts only make the situation worse. Then, in season 2, Phil fixes it himself, but it doesn't stay that way for long and is destroyed again by the earthquake. Some things are just meant to be.