1. This Is Spinal Tap – The first time I saw it I thought it was the most brilliant work of comedy I have ever seen. My opinion has not changed.
2. The Big Lebowski – Just re-watched it the other day. Donny: “They posted the next round for the tournament.” Walter: “Donny, shut the f- when do we play?”
3. Young Frankenstein – I find much of Mel Brooks’ work strained and unfunny. YF is Brooks at his best.
- Annie Hall
- The Apartment
- Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
- Lost in America
- The Odd Couple
- Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Harold and Kumar go to White Castle
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
His Girl Friday
- Blazing Saddles. Maybe not quite as funny as YF, but much more pointed and a better overall film for it.
- Airplane! Absolutely non-stop laughs. It’s frankly astonishing that they pulled it off.
I’m not sure if I have a #3. Those are the two I immediately think of when somebody asks my favorite comedies.
I wouldn’t call The Apartment a comedy, though it’s one of my favorite films.
Beat The Devil
Down By Law
The Brother from Another Planet, if that qualifies.
What’s up, Doc --,Peter Bogdanovich’s homage to screwball comedies is screwier than any of the originals. Wonderful script by Buck Henry. several of the players (Kenneth Mars, Madeline Kahn – who was “introduced” in this movie, Liam Dunn) showed up a couple of years later in Young Frankenstein
A Night at the Opera – purists might lament the nods to a more standard and “believable” plot than in their earlier more cartoonish comedies, but this remains my favorite Marx brothers movie, even if it hasn’t got Zeppo. It has some of their best bits (the “contract” scene, the “cabin” scene, the fiasco at the end).
Airplane – I love the Zucker-Zucker-Abrahams series of films, from Kentucky Fried Movie through Top Secret through the Naked Gun series (afterwards they and their sort-of-continuations lost steam. But this is the funniest. I also have to give a shout-out to Airplane II, which they did NOT do, but which, amazingly, managed to carry on in much the same fashion, and managed to be funnier than the Hot Shots! movies
Others that deserve mention
The General – Buster Keaton’;s silent Civil War movie isn’t just one of the best silent movies ever made, it’s one of the best movies ever made. It doesn’t make my top three only because it isn’t purely a laugh-fest.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum – Having seen the play (with its pre-MAS*H Larry Gelbart script) and the movie (written by Doctor Who’s brother, who gave himself a cameo), I have to admit that I like the film better. I don’t mourn the loss of several songs. It stars both Zero Kostel (who played the role of Pseudolus on Broadway) and Phil Silvers (who turned it down, but who later took over the role on stage) and a young pre-Phantom Michael Crawford. And it’s got Buster Keaton!
The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob ( Les Aventures de Rabbi Jacob) – a French Italian comedy from 1973 that I haven’t seen anywhere – movies, YV, cable, VHS, or DVD – since it first came out. Hilarious stuff with French physical comedian Louis de Funès, who was immensely popular in France and Europe in general, but only made this one film that was widely released in the US. Worth hunting down.
Who’s Minding the Mint (1967) – ensemble comedy with a cast of comedians that is one hell of a lot better than It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. And has some of the same people.
Young Frankenstein – of course. Beautiful homage to the Universal monster films of the 30s and 40s with a surprisingly literate script by Gene Wilder (with additions by Mel Brroks). Funnier than Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.
By the way, it’s probably just me, but I recently finally saw This is Spinal Tap and it did absolutely nothing for me. I don’t much care for on-camera improv, which this seems to have a lot of. Even the arguably funniest bits (“It goes to eleven!”) are mercilessly beaten over and over again into submission and have all the funny sucked out of them.
I don’t know if I can rank them really and I had to list 10 and then cull
- Best in Show
- Office Space
Also a 2nd list because I really couldn’t not mention these and really all of these are interchangeable with #1 on the right day:
- Real Genius
Honorable mention to All of Me (Steve Martin/Lily Tomlin underrated classic)
Bill and teds excellent adventure
MP and the Holy Grail
Duck Soup (probably no surprise)
The Man in the White Suit (an Ealing comedy starring Alec Guiness)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
If we’re quoting Spinal tap can I add?
Mick Shrimpton : As long as there’s, you know, sex and drugs, I can do without the rock and roll.