“Comedy,” as the philosopher and pre-eminent Indian activist Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi said, “is about more than just knob gags.” With that, he removed his robe to reveal a spectacular pair of artificial breasts before unleashing a gargantuan bum trumpet. “It is also,” he concluded, “about timing.”
Yesterday, Time Out unveiled their 100 Best Comedy Movies of all time of all time. Among the 200 voters were Dr. Raymond Stanz, Malcolm Tucker and that tall goggle-eyed freak who pops up in The Office.
Topping the poll was the classic mockumentary, This Is Spinal Tap. A fine choice to be sure but any poll that puts The Hangover next to A Night At The Opera proves that humour and subjectivity go hand in hand. The world does not laugh to the tune of just one drum. What might be funny to you might not be funny to your neighbour.
With that in mind, here’s my picks. An inordinate amount of the chosen 10 feature death and killing, while a couple even bring about the end of the world. Oh, and there’s an awful lot of swearing. Apologies.
I hope you add your own below.
10. In Bruges (2008)
Death, drugs, depression and more Catholic guilt than a paeodophile support group – for the main part In Bruges is not a happy film. It is, however, a fucking hilarious one. If you’ve never seen it I heartily recommend you do. Unless you’re an easily offended fat American, a racist dwarf, a manky hooker or an inanimate object.
9. This is Spinal Tap (1984)
Time Out’s Number One, my Number Nine. An obvious classic, packed full of eternal questions from “what are the hours?” to “what’s wrong with being sexy?” and the immortal: “What day did the Lord create Spinal Tap, and couldn’t he have rested on that day too?”. Thank him that he didn’t.
8. South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut (1999)
More intelligent than most people give them credit for, Matt Stone and Trey Parker hit the comedy jackpot projecting Cartman et al to the bigscreen. Also check out BASEketball and Cannibal! The Musical for similar laughs, if not quite the same smarts.
7. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Painfully quotable and featuring the best slapstick shtick since Groucho did a funny walk, Fear and Loathing would give a teetotal Texan trooper a case of the giggles. Like watching two friends get mercilessly ruined without the fear of having to clean up their vomit.
6. Four Lions (2010)
On first watch you may only notice the incredible pathos in Chris Morris first foray into feature film. On second viewing you’ll start to notice the exceptional comedy value in each and every character. On third and fourth and fifth watch, you’ll realise Four Lions is as close to perfect satire as this little island has ever got.
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5. Duck Soup (1933)
If you’ve seen the Marx brothers, then you love the Marx brothers. If you haven’t, watch the video below. Then watch the entire film. Then seek out more like A Night at the Opera and Monkey Business. Then realise that while other generations got these siblings, we got Jedward. Then weep for a long, long time.
4. Annie Hall (1977)
The Marx brothers can be enjoyed by anyone. The same can’t be said for Woody. He is an acquired taste. But for any geeky, neurotic film fan Woody is the comedy messiah and Annie Hall is his walking on water trick. I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have someone like me as a member either. Except the Woody Allen appreciation society.
3. Ghostbusters (1984)
Even though it’s arguably my most oft watched movie of all time and one that I could – Alan Partridge/James Bond style – act out each and every scene from, it’s one that I’ll continue to watch every year for a long, long time. Bustin’, after all, makes me feel very, very good.
2. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
No I’m not going to lazily reference the REM song…but if I did I’d end it with and “I feel pant-wettingly scared about the future of humanity”. But thanks to masters like Stanley Kubrick and Peter Sellers, when the apocalypse does eventually rear its ugly head at least we’ll have a bloody great sing along as we curse the impotent generals that brought about the ultimate Revelation. And chuckle at their “loss of essence”.
1. The Big Lebowski (1998)
Here’s a true story. A volunteer fire-fighter in New York was in total shock after 9/11. No pills or psychiatric care seemed to help him overcome that day. He became more and more distant from his family, never smiling or talking. Then, after 6 months of suffering post-traumatic stress, he watched The Big Lebowski and laughed for the first time in half a year. He put the movie on again. And again. I think he’s doing a lot better these days. Even if my picks of films haven’t made you smile, I hope that will. Please add your own top ten after watching The Dude be very, very undude.