My father always liked to kid me that I didn’t have a sense of humor, to which I once retorted, “That’s not true, I just don’t find most things funny.” He let out a great laugh and said that was one of the best lines he had ever heard. Once I realized what I said, I had to agree and laughed myself. I guess the truth is that I have a rather polarized sense of humor … either it’s funny to me or it is not: there is little in between!
I happen to have a hopelessly irreverent husband who is all too interested in this side of my personality. I’m sure that sometimes he feels like a comedy club comic going down in flames. I told him to keep trying because he’ll come up with something that I find funny some day. Just don’t tell him I said so because its funny to watch him try.
But really, what do I find funny?
Well, love is fun, and what we do when we’re falling in love can be wonderfully funny. So one of my categories is romantic comedy; it is probably my favorite genre … and it seems like it is Hollywood’s, too. Here are a few of what I find to be the best:
Pillow Talk, Send Me No Flowers, and Lover Come Back are all part of the Rock Hudson/Doris Day Romance Collection set. I absolutely adore these films! Doris Day and Rock Hudson always play masterfully off of each other. For example, Pillow Talk is just so much fun, with Rock starring as a playboy who shares a party line with career woman Doris. Every time she picks up her phone, he is on the line working his next conquest. She reports him (sight unseen) to the phone company, and Rock seeks vengeance by posing as a Texan and working to break her heart. Needless to say, he didn’t think that plan out too well.
Desk Set and Adam’s Rib are two favorites that pair up another great film team, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. Desk Set is a particular favorite because Katharine plays a librarian, which alone makes her character wonderful and brilliant and … anyway, it is about a librarian and her books versus an efficiency expert and his all-knowing computer. Sometimes, opposites attract!
Foul Play with Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase is another film featuring a librarian. This romantic comedy definitely goes in the “screwball comedy” sub-genre with its funny twists and crazy antics. Dudley Moore, Burgess Meredith, and Brian Dennehy are all very funny in this film that was directed by Collin Higgins, who wrote the screenplay for Harold and Maude, another of my favorite films (though I am not sure that it would fit the definition of a romantic comedy, at least to someone accused of not having a sense of humor). Foul Play – you will enjoy this one!
How to Lose a Guy in 10 days. Although I am a major fan of Hollywood classics, this contemporary romantic comedy features Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey and is delightfully funny. Kate receives a magazine assignment to lose a guy in 10 days and Matthew makes a bet to get a woman to fall in love with him in 10 days. What a great plot idea!
The second section would be work or office related humor. My favorites include:
Office Space. This comedy is a must-see film and one day it will be a true comedy classic. Here is a story of an office worker who has an inadvertent epiphany regarding his mundane corporate gig. It is pure perfection from start to finish. Watching this film also makes me grateful to work at OWL!
9 to 5 stars Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin as three co-workers who are pushed to their limit by their sexist, egotistical boss. Revenge, or better, the illusion of revenge in more ways than one drives this fast-paced, brilliant comedy. Dabney Coleman masterfully plays the boss. You will love it.
The IT Crowd: Season One. This BBC comedy made me laugh out loud. The comedy centers around the adventures of two computer geeks, Moss and Roy, and Jen, their boss who doesn’t know anything about computers but finds herself managing the IT department located, of course, in the basement storage room of a large corporation. The characters are astoundingly funny and the humor is contemporary and international. You may find yourself out of breath from laughing so hard!
Next, we have what might be called the quirky films:
Mystery Science Theater 3000. This series ran on the Sci-Fi Channel back in the day. The basic idea is that Mike and robots Crow and Tom Servo are being held hostage in space and they are forced to watch bad science fiction films. When you watch an episode, you watch the bad film but the Mystery Science Theater characters, sitting in front of you in movie theater silhouette, deliver a stream of commentary, jokes, and sometimes completely irrelevant observations. Some episodes are stronger than others but when they are on, they are brilliantly funny. All too often, I find myself laughing so hard that I am crying … I never knew that a robot made out of a bowling pin and a lacrosse cup could be so funny.
This is Spinal Tap. Could any comedy-review blog be complete without mentioning at least one Rob Reiner film? This mockumentary follows a fictitious rock group as it quickly falls out of favor with its fans. Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer play the lead characters and play the music in this great movie that actually made me laugh out loud. Really.
Used Cars. Kurt Russell stars in this film as an used car salesman and aspiring politician who comes up with a crazy and hilarious scheme to save his beloved friend’s used car lot from his ruthless brother (who also happens to have arranged the murder of his brother, Kurt’s friend and boss, but Kurt tries to pretend he is still alive and… I said it was quirky). Continuously funny and definitely on the classic comedy track.
And finally, just a few funny greats:
Take the Money and Run, Bananas, Zelig, Sleeper… If you like quirky intellectual satire, Woody Allen rules. I tend to like his older films much better but OWL also has a number of his more recent films.
The Nutty Professor with Jerry Lewis. In the original version of this classic film, Jerry Lewis is at the top of his film creations, in my opinion. It is absolutely phenomenal. Even if you don’t tend to be a Lewis fan, this is worth checking out!
The Court Jester. Danny Kaye illustrates his breath of talent and superb timing in this spectacular comedy classic. Don’t miss this one! This is a good family film too.
Caddy Shack. Who can resist the gopher? Chevy Chase and Bill Murray are at the top of their comedic genius in this film, much of which was created spontaneously on camera. Brilliant!
Trading Places. Dan Ackroyd and Eddie Murphy are outstanding in this … Christmas .. story. But it’s not about Christmas. This is one of those must-see classic comedies and it may be Ackroyd’s best film since The Blues Brothers.
Jerry Seinfeld: Comedian. Seinfeld, the TV comedy, is one of the very few contemporary comedy shows that I not only like but appear to have an almost unlimited ability to watch repeatedly. Comedian showcases Jerry and another comedian as they hit the trail for live shows. The film is a mix of stage shows and the story of the lives of comedians.
Demetri Martin: Person. In my opinion, THE best new comedian to appear since Jerry Seinfeld. His witty funny humor reminds me of Electric Company, except for adults.
As our dedicated blog readers know, a couple of weeks ago Lisa blogged about what films she finds humorous. That got us talking about the subject in some depth, so I thought I would respond with my own list of what I find funny. What people find funny is subjective, but knowing what people find funny really tells you a lot about a person!
OWL’s collection spans the range and depth of comedy. So if life’s problems are getting you down, reach for a comedy and laugh, because it’s true: laughter is the best medicine. Or vitamin, in case you don’t need medicine.
P.S. Please note that these recommendations are for adults only. Some of the content may not be family friendly.
Ann Marie is the Library Director for OWL and likes to laugh if she deems something funny.