In need of a laugh? Aren’t we all?


That simple truth explains why there is nothing better than a consistently funny movie. Given the tricky, delicate nature of comedy, I’d also claim there are few things worse than a movie that tries to be funny but isn’t. It’s hardly surprising that there are many more comedies out there of the latter variety.


Thus it pays to be choosy with all movies, but with comedies in particular.


If you try to tell me a joke I’ve already heard, I’ll stop you. By contrast, the magic of a superior comedy is that you can watch it again and still break up in all the same places. Great comedies are forever fresh.


Below are my selections for the 15 funniest movies of the past half century, including video highlights. Even accounting for subjectivity, there should be at least a few titles on this list that make you smile with recognition.


The next step is to watch them, and turn that smile into laughter.




M*A*S*H (1970)

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Harold and Maude (1971)

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Young Frankenstein (1974)

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Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

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Love and Death (1975)

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Animal House (1978)

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Airplane! (1980)

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This is Spinal Tap (1984)

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Withnail and I (1987)

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A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

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The Naked Gun (1988)

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The Big Lebowski (1998)

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The Dinner Game (1998)

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Best in Show (2000)

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What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

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More:  20 of Our Funniest Actors and the Funniest Things They Said

The Essential Classic Comedies from the Golden Age of Cinema