100 best comedy movies: the list

The 100 best comedy movies, picked by experts from across film, TV and comedy

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By Tom Huddleston, David Jenkins, Adam Lee Davies, Derek Adams, Edward Lawrenson, Wally Hammond, Ben Walters, Gabriel Tate and Phil Harrison. Explore the individual top tens of every contributor.

10

The Jerk (1979)

Dir Carl Reiner (Steve Martin, Bernadette Peters, Carl Gottlieb)

'A Cosmetologist? Really? Wow. Must tough to handle the weightlessness.'

How sweet to be an idiot… Surely Navin R Johnson’s tireless, gormless and outright hilarious pursuit of his ‘special purpose’ is an odyssey that we all of us must eventually undertake. Weren’t we all born poor black children? Didn’t we all fail everything on our astronaut application forms but our dates of birth? Aren’t we all – after all is said and done – jerks? Steve Martin’s big-screen calling card is such a soaring hymn to stupidity, such a canticle to folly, such a hosanna to hubris that only the sanest souls could resist the temptation to join in with the chorus.

It would have been easy and, indeed, understandable, if Martin – then at the giddy and, judging from his bittersweet comedy memoir ‘Born Standing Up’, personally and professionally unfulfilling zenith of his wildfire ’70s superstardom – had simply cashed in on his absurdist stage act for his first feature. The smart, structured, cine-literate film – imagine Preston Sturges on an ether high – that resulted was not only a revelation, and a monster hit at the box office, but served notice that 'the wild and crazy guy' was more than just a non sequitur in a white suit with an arrow through his head. He was, rather, a true screen-comedy great, and he was here to stay.

As Les Dawson used to say of his comically awful piano playing, you have to know how to play it right before you can play it so very wrong, and the same applies to ‘The Jerk’. To be this stupid, you have to be an absolute genius. ALD


Users say

13 comments
Steve
Steve

Its a good list, but very culture specific. Telling from this list you guys are likely about 40 and you're all white and have mostly liked the same movies for decades... I'm going to check out a few that I don't know very well, but I think you guys need to think outside of the box... or at least outside of the window - the world is a pretty diverse place and 'funny' is everywhere. (4 lions maybe an exception)

Kenny
Kenny

Do you guys even like movies?

william mayer
william mayer

Zoolander is higher than Happy gilmore enough said...

Pat
Pat

Good list! Few films I don't feel deserve a place, some films I'd put higher up then they are. This list has some seriously great comedies! It's painful seeing people upset at the absence of film's such as "Soul Plane." In the comments.

Cloé
Cloé

love that list!

Ally
Ally

Wait a minute... Talladega Nights didn't make the list and trading places did? This list is so out of date, none of the fridays either, or cheech and chong, "O Brother Where Art Thou?"... We should be able to vote on lists like these. Good job btw (Y)

anonymous
anonymous

Notable lack of "urban" comedies.

anonymus
anonymus

soul plane? barbershop? friday? friday the next?

Hughes
Hughes

give me the rest

agee
agee

Why so much Steve Martin and so little (or no?) Danny Devito? Where's Tin Men, for example? Better than lots of movies listed here. Since some classics were included, where's It Happened One Night? King of Comedy could have been left out. While a good film, it's not really a comedy (Sandra Bernhard's hilarious scene notwithstanding, I think I would take Being There over King of Comedy for a quasi comdedy) Big Lebowski is a good pick but "O Brother Where Art Thou?" definitely beats out a bunch of films listed here--for quality, laughs, and music.

walte
walte

wtf where is five

dra
dra

where is stepbrothers

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