Last week we celebrated Valentine’s Day with a list of our favorite romance films that all writers should watch – and now, with our Rom-Com Award recently finished, we’re doing the same for comedy!
As with the last list, this isn’t comprehensive and we don’t necessarily think these are the best comedy films. They’re just our favorites, and we think that there’s lots to learn for writers by watching them…
1. MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL
A month ago today we lost a comedy legend with the death of Terry Jones. He and the other members of Monty Python may have produced the most outrage with LIFE OF BRIAN, but they produced the most laughs with their tale about King Arthur and his bumbling knights (both directed and co-written by Jones). MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL might not have a traditional structure – instead resembling a series of sketches – but it’s a great lesson in how to spin surreal situations into jokes. And, you know, how to just be really, really silly.
2. THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
Wes Anderson’s films might not be for everyone, but if there’s one we could recommend, it’s this one. The winner of four Oscars (and nominated for a further five including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay), this madcap story about murder and a missing painting is packed with a zany kind of energy. Funny but also poignant, it walks the difficult line between comedy and drama by offsetting its quirkiness with a big dose of charm.
3. SHAUN OF THE DEAD
Zombie-horror has often had a sense of humor (just take a look at THE EVIL DEAD), but this offering from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost takes it to another level. There are so many smart moments in here that it’s impossible to list them all out, but at the heart of all the comedy is the most fact that the protagonists have the worst possible response to a zombie apocalypse: to head down the local pub and wait for the whole thing to blow over.
First zombies, now ghosts – it turns out that a lot of things that are usually scary can often be funny too! Even 36 years later, GHOSTBUSTERS is still a treat for the eyes with its colorful special effects, and as one of the first films to blend comedy with science-fiction and horror elements, paved the way for other genre-bending films to follow. Plus, who can resist the charm of a film where the final battle is against a giant man made of marshmallow?
Who needs a plot when the jokes are this good? AIRPLANE! doesn’t have much in the way of a story, but for anyone looking to learn how to make people laugh, this is the absolute paragon. With nonstop jokes from start to finish, some of them were bound to land – even if we’re not sure if the plane will do the same. Rarely have words been used so effectively in the pursuit of humor!
SPECIAL MENTION: ANYTHING SO BAD IT’S GOOD
Some films are funny for all the right reasons… and some are funny for all the wrong ones. Here’s a shoutout to all the films that went wrong somewhere and made us laugh without meaning to.