I’m notoriously picky when it comes to comedy; so much so that I am occasionally accused of not having a sense of humor. Those who know me know that nothing could be farther from the truth. For some reason, my taste in comedy just seems to run in opposition to popular opinion. I first remember noticing this as a teenager. While everyone else was pissing themselves over Ace Ventura, Billy Madison, Austin Powers, and a dude fucking a pie, I was wondering what the hell everyone was laughing at. The more popular the flick, it seems the less I dig it. Hangover? Meh. Borat? I don’t get it. Superbad? Nope. This Is The End? Dumb. Anchorman, or anything starring Will Farrell for that matter? Get it the hell away from me. Contrary to popular belief, however, I actually don’t hate comedies. That’s why I was all about doing this list. Here’s my chance to waggle my raging funny bone-r at you. Groggy didn’t give me any rules, but I made two for myself just to keep things interesting – no horror comedies (because that would be way too obvious coming from me) and only one movie per writer/director (‘cause that would be a cop out). Let’s do this…
Honorable Mention: Airheads, Half-Baked, The Jerk, Dazed & Confused, Desperate Living, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, What About Bob?
10. The Aristocrats
“A family walks into a talent agency…” I know. I’m cheating a little with this one. It’s more of a documentary about a joke than a comedy, but hearing multiple renditions of the classic shock piece and watching some of your favorite comedians interacting candidly makes this funnier than 99% of the comedies ever released. Plus it has the added bonus of almost always leading to you and your friends telling their own versions, which usually ends with laughter ‘til tears and never looking at them quite the same way again.
I love Office Space and Beavis and Butthead (the show more so than Do America), but Idiocracy edges them out as Mike Judge’s finest hour. Without a doubt the most biting commentary on post-millennial America ever made, it’s that scary “this is so ridicu… oh god, this is reality” type of funny. Seriously, take a look at your facebook feed and tell me we’re far away from that reality. Hell, look at the comedy flicks these days. Idiocracy is a textbook example of how to mix low-brow humor with thought provoking satire to make both ingredients more potent.
John Cusack and Tim Robbins are the most effective “buddy comedy” combination I’ve seen. The flick deftly skewers the 80’s music video scene, and by extension the filmmaking world in general. A punk rock attitude, a cameo list second to none, and some great music round out the package. Just try getting that “Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles” song out of your head.
7. Ed Wood
To be honest, being an Ed Wood fan probably makes this film a lot funnier, but any fan of the movie business, great acting, and a little of that bitter-sweet heartwarming crap can dig the hell out of Tim Burton’s best movie. For a B Flick addict, it’s pure gold. It also barely beats out Joe Dante’s Matinee as my favorite fictional film based on a real filmmaker. “Let’s hear him call Karloff a cocksucker.”
Mel Brooks has made classic after classic (Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, History of the World: Part 1), but this is my favorite. The “When will then be now?” scene is the “Who’s on First” of our generation. As the rest of the list will show, I’m a big fan of bad visual puns, and Brooks does it better than anyone.
5. Shakes the Clown
As he would later show in his blacker-than-black wish fulfillment comedy God Bless America, Bobcat Goldthwait possesses a razor sharp wit and a lot of skill behind the camera. By far the best “alcoholic birthday party clown” movie ever made, Shakes is criminally underappreciated. It also happens to be the only good comedy with Adam Sandler in it. A rather dark story played completely straight in a world populated by clowns and mimes. Therein lay the ingredients of a masterpiece. It always depresses me how few people I know who have seen this one. Go search it out. NOW! Trust me.
4. The Muppet Movie
This is the only movie that tops Rocky Horror Picture Show in terms of “movie I’ve seen the most times in my life.” The Muppets have had great moments since their 1979 film debut, but nothing tops the original. The strength of the Muppets has always been their ability to play to different age groups at the same time. The jokes you only catch as an adult make it as fresh now as it was when you were a kid. This was my go-to movie when I worked in video stores and we had to play stuff out of the kid’s section during the day. There’s no telling how many hundreds of times I’ve seen it, and I doubt I will ever get tired of it.
Speaking of working in a video store, I was a clerk at Hollywood Video when I first saw this one, and it felt like my life had been put on screen. My particular taste in comedy all boils down to the wordplay (which is why I usually prefer stand-up to movies), and Kevin Smith is the undisputed maestro of dialogue. Its snappy, pop-culture repartee is endlessly quotable, and the everyman characters and situations make it relatable to almost anyone. Clerks is probably the best written comedy of all time.
Weird Al Yankovic is a comedic genius. ‘Nuff said.
Combining perfect casting, wordplay, slapstick, parody, and visual puns, Airplane is the epitome of comedy that is smart about being dumb. The spoof has become a lost art form, but the same creative team that brought us the Naked Gun flicks was pitch perfect here. It’s silly but clever. The fact that a comedy that is damn near three and a half decades old is still as funny today as when it was released really speaks to the sheer brilliance on display. It’s joke after joke after joke, never letting up and constantly pummeling the viewer with hilarious lines so fast that you’ll laugh at new things each time you watch it. It just doesn’t get any better than this.
Nathan Hamilton is your average "slightly eccentric" horror movie junkie. At the age of 32, he’s already been involved in “horror business” for 20 years as a haunted house actor, ghost tour guide, and genre blogger/critic/journalist. He currently writes the horror movie blog Son of Celluloid. Nathan is also quite proficient with a chainsaw. You can decide for yourself if you’d rather experience his writing or chainsaw wielding talents. He’s happy either way.