About this column:
(A few years ago, a comedian friend of mine told me that she wanted to see a Top 100 Comedy List from me. Well, I LOVE making lists, even though it’s extremely hard. I’ve always been obsessed with lists throughout my life, studying them and trying to watch everything on every list I could find. While I have never thought lists were definitive, as every one is subjective, however I think they are great reference points and do a great job informing people about films they might not have known about, or maybe even get people to revisit a movie they love, or better yet, give a film a second chance because of someone else’s praise.
Anyways, back to me creating a Top 100 Comedy list: At the time, I decided not to work on the list until I see more films so it would be more complete. Well, life is a little too short for that. There are still several movies I need to see. Classic comedies that I probably should see before I make this list (THE THIN MAN comes to mind), but I have decided to make a list anyway. Because I want to.
Now, a little about this list: These are films that I think are the funniest. They have made me laugh more than any other. Now, some of these films may not be the best movies ever made, but they have certainly made me laugh the most. Also, some films that have made the AFI Funniest Film List won’t make mine because I don’t consider than straight up comedies. Films like THE APARTMENT, FARGO, BACK TO THE FUTURE, TOOTSIE, etc. While I love every one of those movies, and would certainly be contenders for my All-Time favorites films, I have seen films that made me laugh harder. Does that make sense?
And finally, the big question: How the heck am I going to rank these films? Well, I don’t think I really can. With the exception of one movie in particular, I don’t think I could rank these in any kind of order. Most of these movies require me to be in a certain mood in order to watch them. So I could like one film better than another on one day, but then the next day I could totally change my mind. So I’m not going to do that. Then I thought maybe I should just do them alphabetically, but that would eliminate the element of surprise. Well, maybe I should do them chronologically, but that could get a little dull. Ultimately, I decided to just do the list in a random order, pretty much like picking movies from a hat (I’m actually going to use the Random Number Generator).
I would like to reveal my list one film at a time. Ideally, I would love to reveal a film every day for the next 100 days, but with all of my “real life” stuff going on, that will probably be impossible. I will promise this: I will have my list done by the end of the year, and I will do my best to try to get one done every day.
The selection of this list was very difficult. I originally had over 300 movies. I had to narrow that down to 100, so there are still several great comedies out there that didn’t make this list.
One more thing: There is one movie that stands out as the funniest film I’ve ever seen, so I will reveal that one last.
So, without further ado….. I present to you:
THE TOP 100 FUNNIEST MOVIES THAT AUSTIN KENNEDY HAS EVER SEEN!!!)
99. PARDON US (1931) – Directed by James Parrott; Starring Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy.
It’s no use hiding my love for the classic comedy duo Laurel & Hardy. I’ve been a fan since I can remember. In fact, I’ve been a member of their fanclub since 1984, having attended a few international conventions, and even partook in a trivia contest when I was 17 (getting second place). So yes, I’m bias. But you know, this is what “I” think is funny. So there are going to be some films on the list that people might scratch their heads at. But this shouldn’t be one of them, cause this flick is hilarious.
After making silent and sound shorts for nearly 5 years, Laurel & Hardy finally made their way to a full length feature. Their first, PARDON US, is probably one of their more low-key films, but it’s also one of their funniest. The movie starts off with the boys buying ingredients to make their own booze and sell it. The next scene shows them being led to prison. That’s a funny bit of abrupt editing. What follows is the boys making enemies in jail, escaping jail, getting arrested again, and ultimately saving the day from a bunch of rioting prisoners.
If you’re used to fast and furious humor, you may find yourself at tad befuddled at first. But stick with this movie, because the comic timing of the legendary duo, and the often overlooked, but equally talented supporting cast (Walter Long, playing the baddie is fantastic!) is nothing short of genius. There’s a terrific running gag involving Stan’s loose tooth that buzzes after every time he says something (which gets him into trouble, of course). There’s a prison classroom sequence that is one of the weirdest, funniest scenes I’ve ever seen, and features the comic genius of James Finlayson. Then the boys also dress in blackface and hide out in a plantation, which isn’t nearly as racist as it sounds. But it’s funny (and innocent). And we get to hear some terrific songs from Oliver Hardy, who is wonderful singer. The song Lazy Moon is definitely a highlight.
What I love about this movie is that it takes its time setting up its humor. Their humor is so infectious. Just try watching Stan & Ollie sharing a bed on the top bunk, trying to get comfortable, without laughing. It’s outrageously funny. Laurel & Hardy were just starting to get in their prime by the time this picture came out. Whether it’s Ollie mugging the camera as he breaks the fourth wall, or Stanley doing his double and triple takes, these guys are brilliant. Seeing them interact with the assorted characters the story provides is an absolute delight. These guys are so confident with their comedy that there is even a scene that is nearly 2 minutes of only hearing their voices as they are locked up in solitary confinement. And it’s still funny! That’s the power these guys have.
Unfortunately, most of Laurel & Hardy’s films aren’t readily available. At least not at your local Target or Redbox. But Vivendi entertainment has most of their features (including this one) and shorts in an excellent 10-Disc box set that I highly recommend getting.
I have been watching PARDON US since I was about 6 years old, and it’s no less funny for me today.