Airplane Still Shot

Comedy Movie Marathon – Where to Start?

Planning a comedy movie marathon is a special type of challenge.

Every human being has slightly different comedic tastes, resulting in the same movie falling flat for some and knee-slappin’ to others. This variety of taste results in a proliferation of sub-genres. Wikipedia lists about 14 sub-genres of comedy films, while this handy infographic claims 35 comedy sub-genres.

By the way, is it funny to anyone else that British humor is its own comedic sub-genre? Here is a bit of an explanation of what sets it apart, but how come you never hear of Canadian humor? Or Polish humor? Oh wait, I suppose there is a certain form of Polish humor out there.

Anyway, I digress. Another challenge is you have to consider your attendees’ health. You wouldn’t want to have your movie marathon added to this Wikipedia page of documented cases of people dying of laughter.

Oops. I digress again. So there are lots of types of comedies out there, and there are many comedies out there widely regarded as “classics”. Where do you start?

In my opinion, variety is the spice of every movie marathon. If you scheduled a movie marathon consisting of the entire Three Stooges Filmography, I think you would start using Moe‘s signature eye-poke on yourself about halfway through.

So, what I did is take some of the comedy sub-genres out there, and picked a good representative of that sub-genre. 13 sub-genres / movies later, and you have yourself a comedy movie marathon! I also listed a link to further explanation of the comedy sub-genre, in case you’d like delve deeper into the depths of humor in a particular area.

Your mileage may vary. If you successfully pull off this comedy movie marathon schedule or another one of your own devising, I’d love to hear about it!

Comedy Movie Marathon Movies

Tootsie

TootsieCategory: Dramedy

My take: Dustin Hoffman’s character dresses in drag to gain acting success on a soap opera. This comedy is remembered because it is a movie that is running on all cylinders. It is serious, funny, satiric, its characters change, and has great music. In other words, it all comes together for a great final result.

 

My Cousin Vinny

My Cousin VinnyCategory: Fish out of water

My take: One of my favorite comedies. It exemplifies the fish-out-of-water scenario (New Yorker transplanted to the Deep South) but also has characters and a plot that you can care about (kids falsely accused of murder).

Airplane!

AirplaneCategory: Parody

My take: The comedy that launched a thousand imitators. Take a premise from serious 1970s disaster movies, plant serious actors of the day (Peter Graves, Leslie Nielson) acting very seriously, and then jam every scene with pure ridiculousness. Required viewing for all serious comedy enthusiasts.

Animal House

Animal HouseCategory: Gross out

My take: The template for all subsequent teen / high-school / college comedies. Raunchy, gross, funny. Authority figure villian. Slacker protagonists.  The first movie writing credit of Harold Ramis, and part of the class National Lampoon comedy of the day.

Some Like it Hot

Some Like It HotCategory: Classic

My take: This is a fantastic classic comedy with impossible-to-replicate elements. Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon cross-dressing undercover in a girl band which features ukulele-player Marilyn Monroe.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Monty Python And The Holy GrailCategory: British humor

My take: The king (ha!) of silly humor, and the most quotable movie by high school boys and other nerds in the last century. Follow King Arthur as he seeks the grail (spoiler alert: he fails in his quest to due the movie running out of money) and faces enemies like a killer rabbit and european vs. african swallow trivia.

When Harry Met Sally

When Harry Met SallyCategory: Romantic comedy

My take: Romantic comedies are a much-maligned category of comedy. They’ve been all but dormant in recent years, after having a boom around the 1990s. Why not try out one of the first, and best?

Dr. Strangelove

Dr StrangeloveCategory: Black comedy

My take:  This movie is a strange, singular experience – but what else would you expect out of Stanley Kubrik? A “comedy” depicting World War III could be started by a single unhinged individual in power. Laugh-out-loud funny? Maybe not so much. Darkly absurd? Yes.

Duck Soup

Duck SoupCategory: Slapstick

My take: The best Marx Brothers film, featuring slapstick, puns, political satire, jokes, and classic vaudeville-style performances. It is a comedy time capsule.

This is Spinal Tap

Spinal TapCategory: Mockumentary

My take: The fake documentary that takes a hard look at the world of Rock and Roll, and reveals what an absurd mess it can be. More dry, quotable humor than laugh-out-loud funny.

 

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Breakfast At TiffanysCategory: Sophisticated Comedy

My take: A character-driven, witty comedy, featuring Audrey Hepburn playing a manic-pixie dream girl before that term became a thing. I do appreciate classic cinema’s ability to produce comedy, drama, and emotion just from the dialog of a few individuals.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Fast Times At Ridgemont HighCategory: Teen Comedy

My Take: High-school comedy from the early 1980s, which many laud for capturing the reality of teenage life at the time.

Bringing Up Baby

Bringing Up BabyCategory: Screwball comedy

My take: Goofy, frenetic, and funny. Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant go from one implausible situation to another, mostly driven by Katherine’s Manic Pixie Dream Girl-ness. I guess she beat Audrey Hepburn to that trope.

Comedy Movie Marathon Schedule

Start TimeTitle
12:00 PMTootsie
02:30 PMMy Cousin Vinny
04:45 PMAirplane!
06:15 PMAnimal House
08:30 PMSome Like it Hot
10:45 PMMonty Python and the Holy Grail
12:30 AMWhen Harry Met Sally
02:15 AMDr. Strangelove
04:00 AMDuck Soup
05:15 AMThis is Spinal Tap
06:45 AMBreakfast at Tiffany’s
08:45 AMFast Times at Ridgemont High
10:30 AMBringing Up Baby
12:12 PMFinish

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