Of all film’s genres, comedy might be the hardest to nail. A great horror film can tap a universal fear to be effective. Thrillers and action flicks can appeal directly to the adrenal gland. But comedies are trickier. No matter the flavour – romcom, satire, gross-out, teen, screwball – they need to hit their punchlines with deadly precision. And they need to do it effortlessly, because once a comedy shows signs of straining for a joke, the audience checks out. And that’s to say nothing about comedy being the hardest genre to translate across cultural divides, class strata and generations. Funny is hard.
That makes choosing the 100 best comedies of all time a little tricky. To help us with the task, we enlisted the help of comedians (such as Russell Howard and Diane Morgan), actors (John Boyega and Jodie Whittaker, among others), directors and screenwriters (including Richard Curtis), as well as several generations worth of Time Out writers. Next time you need something to turn that frown upside down, you’ll know where to start. And if you don’t find something to bring the chuckles, well, there are 99 more options where that came from.