Top Ten Comedies!

by Adam Thorn

What film has made you laugh the hardest and most regularly? Which one means the most to you? Prepare to disagree with me, as I run down my top ten comedies. I know what you're thinking, a clinically depressed man: who better to advise on some funny films? Me, you cunt. Me. (Loses half the audience).

Good. Now that I have weeded out the weak willed, let's crack on.

What started me thinking about this post was during a Bottom, Rik Mayall and Ade Edmonson love in, Guest House Paradiso sprung to mind. I wondered how it would fare in my top ten. Also I'm a cynical bastard and the last top ten did well for numbers. So, a trip to the IMDb ratings it was. Although what I have learned is that I can't trust them. Due to my devotion to impulse I apparently rated Starship Troopers 2 an eight out of ten. Years ago, of course. I'd say what did I see in it, but there are exes of mine asking the same thing and it's too much to contemplate right now.

Making this list I realised, and perhaps I am alone on this, but I probably value comedy series above film for consistent laughs. The short format, regular output and lack of commitment to an hour and a half makes them an easier watch. South Park, Peep Show, Family Guy, Hancock's Half Hour, Friends, Father Ted, Bottom all entertain in twenty or thirty minutes and do not suffer what I consider to be comedic feature film's biggest issue: the third act. Having to tie up the loose ends often costs laughs. Particularly in the current trend of two hour running lengths.

Many of these films are formative. Films I saw as a kid and still find funny, but mostly they've moulded my love of film more than any other genre. Further, even, my approach to life. Addams Family and its dark humour surely spills forth into Three Billboards? Please remember, as ever, that these are my favourite comedies, not a definitive best of. Ask me again next month and the order may have changed slightly. The films we've reviewed are hyperlinked.

(UPDATE: I have had one glaring omission pointed out to me. South Park, Bigger, Longer, Uncut. It would almost certainly be Top 10. But I've moved on now. Moved on I tell you!)

    Please don't hurt me. I have two kittens.”
Dead Snow married my love of gore, jokes, and Nazis. That sounded wrong. Films with Nazis in. Nazis being killed, specifically. In the Dead Snow series they are 70 year old frozen zombie Nazis, which is cool, and works! We never went to flatten Gaddafi thinking about how we could make a film about the frozen Amazonian Guard turning up. What's that? Blair supported him? Well I hope he has suffered a brutal, pubic final fate. Blair that is. The first Dead Snow film is funny, bloody and oddly not as original as it sounds. The zombie Nazi market is surprisingly saturated.

Dead Snow: Red vs Dead is both a horror and disgusting comedy. Gross out comedy? You ever seen a man suck petrol through another man's guts? No? See this. Total Eclipse of the Heart will sear itself into your mind. While both films are excellent, Red vs Dead excels in hilarity.

  1. You old cunt!”
    I'm not old, Robbie.”

    I reviewed Three Billboards on its release, and often longevity will knock a film back on these lists a bit for me (Death of Stalin). But I have seen the film twice since then, and I still love it. For me to watch a film three times in six months is nigh on unheard of, unless it's Saving Private Ryan which I am proud to say I saw four times in the cinema thanks to Purley ABC not giving a shit I wasn't old enough. And still don't look it.

    Three Billboards is hilarious and poignant, it being about a woman fighting for her daughter's justice against a male run society, released at the time of #MeToo and Harvey Weinstein's, err, not exposure, revelations? You know what I mean. It is a film the phrase “you'll laugh, you'll cry” was conjured for. It is sad, touching, complex and very, very funny. It is potentially not to everyone's tastes. Some people didn't get on with the brilliant, subtle, characterisation, but they were mostly American. If you read this blog chances are you'll like it.

    As we always say at the Guest House Paradiso: Have fun, don't go in the water if you know what's good for you and try not to get shit on the sheets.”

    I'm a huge fan of the TV series Bottom, and Guest House Paradiso is that rarest of things, a British TV sitcom big screen outing which is actually as funny if not better than the show. Even my beloved Tony Hancock didn't transfer too well to the cinema. Yes it's silly, crude, puerile and slapstick but it's also hilarious, brilliantly written, wonderfully performed and it even has Vincent Cassel in it! Vincent Cassel for God's sake!

    I miss Rik Mayall; his premature death in 2014 denied fans years more laughs and his family a lot, lot more than just that. However, rewatching Guest House Paradiso made me hawing like a demented donkey, as it has done every time I've watched it since I first rented it when it came out. Hee-hawing, howling with joy as my bemused girlfriend contemplated dumping me. She did, but I don't blame the film, and nor should you (I know you all care about me deeply). If you haven't seen Guest House Paradiso, do.

7. The Guard (2011)

When I applied for the post of international drug trafficker it said nothing about must have experience of heavy lifting.”

Calvary, also with Brendan Gleeson and by writer/ director John Michael McDonagh is very funny, but it is more of a drama. The Guard, where Gleeson plays an hilarious small town Irish Guarda is balls out hilarious. Is he a racist? Is he a philanderer? Is he an idiot? Well, Don Cheadle's FBI officer on the trail of some murderous drug smugglers finds out. The Guard's plot is perhaps a bit straightforward, but it doesn't need to be any more complex narratively speaking when you're so busy laughing along with it. Absolutely brilliant. Irish humour has two in my Top Ten. 

6. The Birdcage (1996)

They don't make women like that anymore.”

If you don't love The Birdcage you're a homophobe. There, I said it. Based on French film La Cage Aux Folles, also hilarious, something about The Birdcage grabs me more. While Robin Williams (who I love) is absolutely perfect, the film is basically a camp-off between Nathan Lane and Hank Azaria, who are both outstandingly brilliant. There's physical humour, political comedy and Gene Hackman. The Birdcage was at its time somewhat edgy, I suppose. It may be again given the hatred governments spew into our daily living. Say goodbye to kindness and love! “Fuckity bye kindness and love!”

If you're open to a bit of drag comedy, which you should be, try UNHhhh.

5. The Addams Family (1991)

"Don't torture yourself Gomez. That's my job."

I saw this for my eighth birthday party. For my ninth, dad showed me his snuff film collection. Which caused my love of the macabre I don't know, but there's definitely a theme of dark humour and violence in this list. The Addams family is so formative for me that I don't know where it ends and I begin. The final credits is the obvious answer but then there is a second film which, unbelievably, is even darker and almost as funny. I didn't see The Addams Family Values at the cinema though and it didn't embed a love of blood into me like the first film.

If you haven't seen it, please don't write it off as a kid's film, The Addams Family is bloody hilarious old or young. The TV show was great, I used to watch that and The Lone Ranger on a Sunday morning before Football Italia. The effects still hold up and man, what a talent we lost in Raul Julia. He's exceptional. They all are. Christopher Lloyd is unrecognisable, and wonderful as the now "estranged" Uncle Fester, returning to scam the fam.

As an aside, given I revisited a few films from my youth this year, I have concluded that the eighties was a fucking dark time for children's cinema. I refer you to Return to Oz and The Dark Crystal. Were you raised on more grim cinema than those? Please direct me to it, the police took Dad's tapes.

4. Very Bad Things (1998)

I don't fucking know how to pray!”

Did I say something about dark films? Very Bad Things is probably the darkest in the top ten, and what I love abut it is it manages pure comedy throughout. Both a brilliant excoriation of male uselessness and a kick in the cunt of bridezillas. After a debauched, somewhat lecherous and definitely adulterous stag do goes badly wrong, the groom and his merry band of idiots attempt to keep the wedding on track; as that's what his wife (Cameron Diaz) wants. At pretty much any cost. Very Bad Things is brilliant, but not for the faint of heart.

Soon it was commonplace for entire teams to change cities in search of greater profits. The Minneapolis Lakers moved to Los Angeles where there are no lakes. The Oilers moved to Tennessee where there is no oil. The Jazz moved to Salt Lake City where they don't allow music.”

Before South Park fame, Matt Stone and Trey Parker were simply multi million dollar comedy film stars and writers. While Team America is brilliant, creative and wonderfully funny satire, something about BASEketball just does it for me. Orgazmo is also worth watching. The now almost prophetic look into sport's decline from a passion into a lucrative entertainment business, with owners and stocks and shares, and two (and a half) men's fight against that trend is absolutely riotous and a bit wrong from start to finish.

Also, while we're on the subject (given he genuinely relocated a team he owned to another city) I'd like to extend a quick fuck you to Stan Kroenke. If you destroy Arsenal, I won't find you, and I won't need to kill you because you're a coffin dodger already you ugly old cunt. Ha!

It is anchor-MAN, not anchor-WOMAN! That is a scientific fact!” 

Ah, the peak Will Ferrell years. Step Brothers, Blades of Glory, Semi Pro, Old School. I'll even give you Land of the Lost which was entertaining. Anchorman stands out as the best for me though. Fun film fact, they shot so much script and ad-libbed story that there's another, completely different version of the film, unrecognisable from this one and actually, still pretty funny. Ferrell's 70's San Diego newsreader Ron Burgundy is sexist, ignorant and in an environment when men aren't challenged by women. Until Veronica Corningstone (the magnificent Christina Applegate) turns up.

Despite a long running length, Anchorman does not suffer the third act joke rate drop-off I referred to at the start of this piece. The cast are great, and there are plenty of them! Cameos for Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughan, Tim Robbins and even a small role for a not famous at the time Seth Rogen are what the sequel dialled up to eleven. Blowing the speaker and jumping the shark in a way the first film so skilfully does deliberately. The seventies setting makes what comedy easier to buy, and the attention to detail extends right down to the use of obvious dummies and corny props. The Sex Panther scene still brings uncontrollable laughter, as does Ron's chatting up Veronica. 

Have you offered them pubic hair?”

So funny even Kazakhstan eventually saw sense. After trying to sue the film makers (they weren't the only ones) the nation caved, admitting tourism had gone up because of the attention Borat brought with it. There are so many brilliant moments, one liners and Americans putting their foot in it saying racist things, that as soon as I rewatched it I knew this was my number one. Bruno is very funny too, but Borat will forever reduce me to tears of laughter. Probably. Some of the gags are timeless, and it even has a “Not” joke a film long! That's some skill.

Borat was criticised for the way it talks about Jews, but that's only through (deliberately) the eyes of a racist Khazakh comedy character; played by a Jewish man. The elderly Jewish couple are really lovingly portrayed, actually. American Christians get the worst deal in my opinion, which I know isn't completely fair either, but it shows the film's skill at teasing out people's bonkers views. With Trump and the rise of megacunt politics, Borat remains both hilarious, and wonderful, relevant satire.

The Almost Made It List

Good God it took me a long time, and a lot of unemployment, to narrow this list down. Here's a quick rundown of some other funnies I like.

I just want you to love me. I just want you to love me, primal doubts and all. You understand that, don't you?”


Brilliantly written. Expertly acted. Funny. Powerful. Poignant even still. See Network. End of message.

Very close to making the top ten. Such a beautiful film with both a very human touch and some hilarious dialogue.

Incredibly funny, but too new. Perhaps in a few years it'll make the top ten. I even went out and bought a book because of it. Non-compulsory learning! Me!

Jim Carey special, this. I rather like him but I know there are those who do not. One of my exes could quote the whole film. It was rather endearing.

Much funnier than actual Las Vegas, although I did stay in Circus Circus, where bits of this film are set. Real-life writer, and inventor of gonzo journalism, Hunter S. Thompson (played by Johnny Depp) and his “250 pound Chicano lawyer with a head full of acid and no fear of anything that walks on two legs” (Benicio Del Toro) get ruined on a suitcase full of drugs and experience Vegas in a way imitated by The Hangover.

I went with professional athletes. Sadly no suitcase of drugs (though one of our crew probably had a suitcase full of cash after his table wins).

Not enough of a comedy, though a brilliant film. When I started this top ten I genuinely thought an Adam Sandler film would make the cut, but Happy Gilmore would probably be the only one I can still watch. Or perhaps Big Daddy.

Obligatory Python mention, but really it's take your pick of their films here.

Was high up but my granddad ruined it one Christmas and now I can't enjoy it the same way. At Christmas, too. Thanks granddad!

Suffers from not being an outright comedy in my eyes, although it is an excellent film. Practical effects are the nuts! Ah the eighties, when Tim Burton made great films...

Again, a film which shaped my humour, and love of Robin Williams. Other films I would consider of his are World's Greatest Dad, Man of the Year, Death to Smoochy, Good Morning Vietnam... I told you I love the man!

My uncle told me to see this Todd Haynes, deeply, darkly unsettling and hilarious comedy. Be warned, it is not for everyone. My uncle's a fucking nutter though, and apparently so am I.

I saw this at Peckham Multiplex before the hipsters moved in. There were drunks/ homelesss sleeping at the back. That image will never leave me and thinking about this film makes me want to force my niece and nephews to watch it.

The play on democracy and idiocy is but a hors d'oeuvre to this feast of fun on the future fatness of our fissure.

It is pretty obvious director/ writer, the brilliantly name Bobcat Goldthwait, is a comedian. God Bless America is like a Charlie Brooker evisceration of the nation, as a terminally ill man and teenage girl go on a killing spree. Well worth seeking out.

Jackass: The Movie (they're all basically the same)

Puerile, penis-comedy I could watch over and over. The cinematic equivalent of drawing an erect member on your mate's maths book. Haha, cocks! Big, veiny cocks!

Very funny, weird and utterly unique. Not for everyone. Although as a cartoon it is totally appropriate for your kids. Whack it on, leave the room, and please don't sue me...

Remade not terribly in the US, the original French film about a high society dinner where people compete to bring the biggest idiot is much better.

A very inventive and logical way to deal with the third act dip. I miss John Candy. The film has a gut punch unmatched even by Ricky Hatton. Other Candy films I'd accept are Uncle Buck, Cool Runnings and Stripes.

And if you look in the mirror... and you say his name five times... he'll appear behind you, breathing down your neck. You want to try it?”

Oh. And Home Alone, which John Candy is also in.

Another formative comedy, probably the cause of my love of physical humour. Home Alone is an out and out slapstick film, it's not very quotable. But say “Macaulay Culkin's career” in the mirror five times and it comes back from the dead! Arrrrghhh!

The second film has arguably the better gags, but less originality.


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