1. The Cameraman
“This 1928 movie may have more laughs per second than any movie ever made, and it’s silent! The humor is in Buster Keaton’s insistence on focusing totally on the task at hand. In the film, he plays a newsreel photographer, and in one scene he is earnestly focused on shooting footage of a gang war in Chinatown. When an escaped organ grinder’s monkey jumps on his head and holds tightly onto his nose for safety and Keaton does not react—just keeps shooting—you can’t help but crumble.”
— Suggested by Elayne Boosler.
2. The In-Laws
“This 1979 movie is a favorite of many comedy writers I know. Alan Arkin plays a suburban dentist who inadvertently teams up with Peter Falk, a CIA agent, to take down a dictator in Central America. The chemistry between the two is priceless; words don’t do it justice. One favorite line: When discussing the upsides of working for the CIA with Arkin, Falk says, casually, ‘Are you interested in joining? The benefits are terrific. The trick is not to get killed. That’s really the key to the benefit program.’”
— Suggested by Annabelle Gurwitch, the author of I See You Made an Effort: Compliments, Indignities, and Survival Stories From the Edge of 50.
3. Midnight Run
“Robert De Niro is Jack Walsh, a bounty hunter tasked with bringing in the Duke, a former accountant for the mob who skipped bail. Walsh is constantly frustrated and angry, while the Duke is very annoying. It’s hilarious to watch them constantly nag each other as they get chased across the country.”
— Suggested by Russell Peters, a stand-up comedian and a judge on the NBC talent contest Last Comic Standing.
4. Mistaken for Strangers
“It’s a funny, heartwarming documentary about rock and roll. The premise: Right before he goes on tour with his band, the National, lead singer Matt Berninger invites his slacker brother, Tom, to come along as a roadie. Tom decides to tape the whole thing, and the result—including when Tom films himself getting inebriated on the tour bus—is a great account of sibling rivalry and love.”
— Suggested by Mike Birbiglia.
5. Waiting for Guffman
“In this mockumentary masterpiece, Christopher Guest’s character, Corky St. Clair, is a beyond-eccentric theater director from off-off-off-Broadway who relocates to the tiny town of Blaine, Missouri, and is determined to showcase the acting ‘talent’ of the locals. The results are horrifyingly hilarious.”
— Suggested by Ross Mathews, the host of the late-night talk show Hello Ross! on E!
This comedy is about two friends and aspiring boxers who get caught up in a money-laundering scheme. It's all character driven and in the end, these two great pals (played by Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau) end up with a simple win, a little girl they raise together. Ricky, Vince's character, is such a polarizing figure, but he manages to still be so hilarious. Just watch the scene where Ricky is sitting in first class on a flight to New York and he realizes that the alcohol is free. It's a real representation of the film and the relationship he and Jon have in the film.
— Suggested by Steve Byrne, a stand-up comedian and the star of Sullivan & Son, on TBS.
— Reporting by Andra Chantim