Comedy is by far one of the hardest genres to achieve any kind of lasting success in.
By it's very nature, comedy is a fleeting thing. You laugh, you move on, you laugh again. Conversely, it's often described by directors as one of the hardest things to catch. It either happens or it doesn't - and the reaction has to be universal or not at all. For the purposes of cleanliness, we've kept this list to straight comedies - we've already covered romantic comedies - so if you're wondering why a few others are off the list, that's why.
10. SUPER TROOPERS (2001)
It's a real shame that the comedy troupe behind Super Troopers - Broken Lizard - have never experienced a real breakthrough hit beyond Super Troopers. That said, fans of both Super Troopers and their other efforts are more than a little glad that international stardom has avoided them. It means that they're able to take chances and be as wild and outrageous as they possibly can. Super Troopers works off a Police Academy blueprint, but infuses it with South Park's sense of anarchy and lewdness. It's no surprise that a crowdfunded sequel overachieved its target within a matter of days, as the love for this cult comedy is still strong to this day. Favourite scene? Has to be this.
9. IN THE LOOP (2009)
Based on the hit BBC series, The Thick Of It, In The Loop manages to insult Scottish people, posh people, Americans, the Middle East, OAPs, Harry Potter fans and anyone with a distaste for salty language. The former Doctor Who, Peter Capaldi, plays Malcolm Tucker – a government spin-doctor and gifted with the ability to curse better than any human alive. Set during the build-up to the Iraq War, the film brilliantly pokes fun at international politics, local politics and the ineffectiveness of diplomacy in a modern world. Reading that may make it seem like heavy stuff, but if you're a fan of fly-on-the-wall comedy, In The Loop is one of the best and acted as a precusor to HBO's Veep.
8. THE DEATH OF STALIN (2017)
While Armando Iannucci may have had prominence with the likes of The Thick Of It, Alan Partridge, and Veep, his latest effort drops the contemporary setting and the fly-on-the-wall mechanics and goes right back to Communist Russia - but still maintains that biting comedic tone. Working with an all-star comedy cast that includes Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor and Michael Palin, The Death Of Stalin straddles a line between pitch-black comedy and outright horror in a way that few directors can. There's a lot of scenes in The Death Of Stalin that'll have you questioning whether you should be laughing, but will never not have you laughing.
7. HAPPY GILMORE (1996)
Adam Sandler once had great promise and looking at The Wedding Singer or Happy Gilmore reminds us just how far he's fallen. It's true, he's playing his usual loud, obnoxious slob with a heart of gold, but in Happy Gilmore, it doesn't ever feel forced or contrived. You can see him genuinely trying to entertain and work a scene instead of phoning it in like he's done for so long. It does borrow from Bill Murray's other great comedy, Caddyshack, but takes the context of an outsider taking on the snooty world of golf and fashions it into something more in Sandler's wheelhouse. Christopher McDonald playing Shooter McGavin plays the sleazy pro-golfer who finds himself at odds with Sandler's working-class hero. Keep an eye out for a young Julie Bowen and an excellent cameo from Richard Kiel, who played Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me.
6. ANCHORMAN (2004)
It's been quoted to death - almost to the point where it may have lost some of its lustre - but Anchorman is still a defining piece of comedy. The interesting thing is that it almost never happened. An entirely different story was initially created - which can be seen on the special edition DVD - and almost caused the film to go into turnaround and never be released. For our money, the Gangs of New York-inspired fight scene with Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Luke Wilson and Tim Robbins (Tim Robbins, like?!) is the funniest part of the film. The whole fight is so ridiculous and over-the-top, from Steve Carrell / Brick's trident-throwing to the Planet of the Apes-inspired horse-drawn nets that catch Paul Rudd / Brian Fantana. Less said about the sequel, the better.
5. THE LIFE OF BRIAN (1980)
Originally conceived during an off-the-cuff remark by Eric Idle at the premiere of Monty Python And The Holy Grail, The Life Of Brian was a far more textured and complete film than anything the legendary comedy troupe has done before or since. In its most basic understanding, The Life Of Brian follows a hapless Roman Jew who tries to navigate the perils of living in Jerusalem and the crazed nature of his world whilst somehow being mistaken for a messiah. Naturally, The Life Of Brian's initial release caused uproar - to the point where it was banned here in Ireland for a number of years - and the intervening years may have blunted some of its incisive humour, but when The Life Of Brian was first released, it was incendiary on a scale not seen since Blazing Saddles. What film would have the gall to place Jesus Christ as a character alongside another character called Biggus Dickus?
4. THE BIG LEBOWSKI (1998)
The Coen Brothers began their career with offbeat comedies with the likes of Raising Arizona and Barton Fink, but they truly hit their peak with The Big Lebowski. Jeff Bridges gives a career-best performance as Jeffrey 'The Dude' Lebowski, a down-and-out stoner who is pulled into a detective story involving the kidnapped wife of Jeffrey Lebowski, a paraplegic millionaire who doesn't tolerate idleness. The real star of the film, however, is John Goodman as Walter Sobchak. It's said that the Coens based 95% of the character on John Milius, a well-known screenwriter and director known for his politically-conservative views. Endlessly quoted, The Big Lebowski is by far the funniest film the Coen Brothers has ever made.
3. BLAZING SADDLES (1974)
'Where all the white women at?' It's hard to imagine a film that is so violently un-PC, so hilariously crass and still completely relevant as Blazing Saddles. Gene Wilder and Cleavon Little are two gunslingers who are trying to fight off the local railroad from taking over their town. It's all standard stuff in Westerns, but what makes Blazing Saddles hilarious is how it takes the tropes of Westerns and just completely and utterly takes the piss out of them. Moreover, Blazing Saddles takes aim at just about everyone and nobody gets away empty-handed. Written by Richie Pryor and directed by Mel Brooks, Blazing Saddles has everything going for it. It's just too funny for words.
2. THE NAKED GUN (1988)
Watch this clip. This is why The Naked Gun is one of the funniest films ever.
1. AIRPLANE! (1980)
'Bad news. Fog's getting thicker.' --'AND LEON'S GETTING LARGER!' If you love completely non-sequitur and absolutely random jokes, you're in for a treat. Airplane! Is one of those films that defined the spoof genre as we know it today. When you look at A Haunted House or, well, any film that has any of the Wayans in it, they're borrowing wholesale from Airplane! and, to a lesser extent, The Naked Gun. There's a minimal plot involving an airplane (surprise) falling out of the sky after an outbreak of an unnamed disease. It has something to do with eggs. No, really. You're not watching Airplane! for nuanced humour or witticisms, it's all about the sight gags and the random, background jokes.