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
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.
Category: 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).
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.
Category: 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.
Category: 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.
Category: 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?
Category: 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.
My take: The best Marx Brothers film, featuring slapstick, puns, political satire, jokes, and classic vaudeville-style performances. It is a comedy time capsule.
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.
Category: 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.
Category: Teen Comedy
My Take: High-school comedy from the early 1980s, which many laud for capturing the reality of teenage life at the time.
Category: 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
|02:30 PM||My Cousin Vinny|
|06:15 PM||Animal House|
|08:30 PM||Some Like it Hot|
|10:45 PM||Monty Python and the Holy Grail|
|12:30 AM||When Harry Met Sally|
|02:15 AM||Dr. Strangelove|
|04:00 AM||Duck Soup|
|05:15 AM||This is Spinal Tap|
|06:45 AM||Breakfast at Tiffany’s|
|08:45 AM||Fast Times at Ridgemont High|
|10:30 AM||Bringing Up Baby|