How do you go about deciding on the list of the 100 best comedy movies of all time? Well, you start by asking the experts. That’s why we approached our favourite comedians, actors, directors and writers to canvass their choices.
From the old, new, mainstream and experimental, this is the definitive list of the greatest comedies ever made. So scroll through all 100 entries and work out how many films in our list you’ve seen. You can even explore the top tens of our comedy experts. And if you think we’re having a laugh, let us know in the comments section below!
By Dave Calhoun, Cath Clarke, Phil de Semlyen, Alim Kheraj, Tom Huddleston, Trevor Johnston, David Jenkins, Kate Lloyd, Tom Seymour, Anna Smith, Ben Walters, Adam Lee Davies, Phil Harrison, Derek Adams, Wally Hammond, Edward Lawrenson and Gabriel Tate.
The 100 best comedy movies
‘I have nipples, Greg. Could you milk me?’
Director: Jay Roach
Cast: Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro
Meeting your partner’s parents is bound to be stressful – but Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) has it worse than most. Turns out his potential father in law (Robert De Niro) is a former CIA agent with a suspicious nature – and a polygraph lie-detector machine at his disposal. Over the course of an eventful visit, Focker’s misfortune builds to a farcical crescendo as his intended (Teri Polo) looks on. Stiller is on hilarious, hapless form and De Niro has never been funnier. AS
'You can't sit with us.'
Director: Mark Waters
Cast: Lindsay Lohan, Jonathan Bennett
When Cady (Lindsay Lohan) moves from being home-schooled by her parents in Africa to an American high school, she has rude awakening. Confronted by the school's hierarchy where popularity means everything, she finds herself infiltrating the girl clique The Plastics. Loaded with laugh-out-loud moments, the script, penned by Tina Fey, is filled with zingers. It's a film that provides genuine insight and empathy as well as a hefty dose of putdowns and comeuppances. AK
‘It's the one that says Bad Motherfucker.’
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: John Travolta, Samuel L Jackson
Is ‘Pulp Fiction’ a comedy? Perhaps only in the sense that all Quentin Tarantino’s films, from ‘Reservoir Dogs’ to ‘The Hateful Eight’, have a solid streak of black humour running through them – and whatever the genre or story, they're often fuelled by the disconnect between their characters’ chat and their violent scenarios. That’s largely down to Tarantino’s playful use of language, typified in this stylised crime tale by hitmen John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson chewing the fat over their favourite burgers or discussing why one of them refuses to eat pork. Jackson especially proves himself a master of gallows humour. DC
‘You wanna be a big cop in a small town? Fuck off up the model village.’
Director: Edgar Wright
Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman
Edgar Wright’s follow-up to ‘Shaun of the Dead’ is a bigger, busier, slightly less focused ramble through small-town cop-movie clichés, but it might just be the better film, benefiting from a script packed with smart one-liners and neat riffs on everything from Hammer horror to cosy ITV dramas. It also, lest we forget, sports arguably the finest supporting cast ever assembled, with (very deep breath) Paddy Considine, Jim Broadbent, Billie Whitelaw, Martin Freeman, Olivia Colman, Edward Woodward, Bill Nighy, Timothy Dalton, The Actor Kevin Eldon, both Adam and Joe, Rory ‘The Hound’ McCann and even a masked Cate Blanchett all getting in on the action. TH
‘The idea of working in your shirt sleeves! Think of the shock to your customers, women of culture and refinement!’
Director: Fred C Newmeyer
Cast: Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davis
Always sporting round specs and straw boater, silent comedian Harold Lloyd’s shtick was to cultivate a likeable boy-next-door persona, then put his protagonist in hair-raising jeopardy. In his best-known feature, his plan to get an athletic acquaintance to climb a department store facade as a publicity stunt backfires, so Harold tackles the perilous ascent himself. Cue pesky pigeons and an inconvenient clock face in a beautifully constructed, very funny set-piece whose clever use of perspective creates vertiginous thrills without back projection – or a single computer pixel! TJ
‘It's like I was playing some kind of game, but the rules don't make any sense to me.’
Director: Mike Nichols
Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katherine Ross
It’s easy to forget that, in the pre-blockbuster days, ‘The Graduate’ was one of the biggest box-office smashes of all time (it’s still No 21, adjusted for inflation). So what was it about this intimate, simple drama – a film we’d now refer to as an indie, even though it was studio-made – that captured the public imagination? Quite simply, it was a matter of timing: here was a film that, with its depiction of bourgeois boredom, teenage angst and sexual liberation (not to mention those awesome Simon and Garfunkel songs) absolutely nailed the mood of the late 1960s. TH
'We've been invaded by America. We're all gonna be rich!'
Director: Bill Forsyth
Cast: Peter Riegert, Burt Lancaster, Peter Capaldi
If you’re ever suffering from chilly cockles, Bill Forsyth’s twinkly, good-hearted comedy will warm them right up – and in the wake of Donald Trump’s terrifying ascendance, it’s even more timely. Peter Riegert plays an American lawyer dispatched by his oil-baron boss to Scotland to secure the site for their next refinery. But whaddaya know – it’s right on top of a quaint little fishing village populated by wise, loveable Scotspersons. Epic adorable-ness ensues. TH
‘The course of true love gathers no moss.’
Director: George Cukor
Cast: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart
A romcom that sparkles like champagne, ‘The Philadelphia Story’ is a delicious comedy of misunderstandings and misdemeanours. Which of three men will win the heart of Katharine Hepburn’s icy heiress on the eve of her wedding: her millionaire ex-husband Cary Grant, snooping reporter James Stewart or her dull businessman fiancé John Howard? At the end you might decide that she picks the wrong man, but you can’t argue with the fact that this witty, charming and romantic movie is a near-perfect comedy. CC
‘Harold, everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves.’
Director: Hal Ashby
Cast: Bud Cort, Ruth Gordon
Genre-non-specific movies like ‘Harold and Maude’ have suffered on this list: is it really a comedy? Isn’t there a bit too much death and holocaust talk for that? But if it’s not a comedy, what is ‘Harold and Maude’? Therein, of course, lies its genius: it’s not anything, except real. Controversial on first release, forgotten for decades and then happily rediscovered (at least in part thanks to Cameron Diaz in ‘There’s Something About Mary’), ‘Harold and Maude’ is now firmly established as one of the all-time romantic classics. The central relationship may be unconventional – teenage boy falls for 79-year-old concentration camp survivor – but the themes of self-discovery and universal love speak to all of us. TH
‘It’s like you’re dreamin’ about gorgonzola cheese when it’s clearly brie time, baby!’
Directors: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Ben Stiller, Matt Dillon
The Farrelly Brothers are best known for reinventing gross-out comedy 20 years after ‘Animal House’, and it’s hard to argue that the best-known scenes in ‘There’s Something About Mary’ are the hilariously awful ones: the zip, the cum in the hair, the electrocuted dog. But underneath all that, it’s the film’s irrepressible sweetness that makes it sing: Cameron Diaz and Ben Stiller give career-making performances, their affair is tentative and totally convincing – and Jonathan Richman’s musical cameos tie it all together. TH
How many comedy movies have you seen?
Who voted in our top 100 comedy movies countdown?
How did we choose the 100 best comedy movies of all time? We asked the experts – more than 70 stand-up comedians, actors and writer and directors who make a living tickling our funny bones. Explore the top ten entries from all our contributors, including Peter Capaldi, Sharon Horgan, Jack Whitehall and Jo Brand.