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The 10 Best Comedy Films of All Time: Statistically

The 10 Best Comedy Films of All Time: Statistically

We stumbled onto an article the other day listing the top 100 comedy films of all time. I disagreed with the selection, and placement, of many films on that list. It is moments like these, I wish I had never set foot in academia. My brain decided it was time to do some statistical analysis.

You would think, with the number of organizations claiming to be film experts, I would have had an easier time finding data. Nope! I was only able to find four lists which presented even marginally objective information. I’m going to keep this simple and move quickly.


I pulled from The American Film Institute’s “100 years of laughs” list of the top 100 comedy films. The study was conducted in 2000 and thus the data is 17 years old. However, it did provide an honest baseline for decades worth of comedy cinema. Next, I used the Rotten Tomatoes list of “Top 100 Comedy Movies.” This data set is important because it is a running list, based on the site’s raw votes and ratings, and the list remains current. The third list was the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) “Highest rated ‘Top 250,’ comedy feature films.” This list is also updated in real-time based on voter ratings. Lastly, I found a fun reader’s poll, “The 25 funniest movies of all time,” published by Rolling Stone May 21, 2014.

Each of the lists are linked to the origin source.


Once I had collected the data, I began by identifying which films were listed on more than one list. Any film listed only once was automatically disqualified. Films named on all four lists rose to the top (of which there was only one). Films with three votes were counted between each list. By that point, I had already surpassed the top 10, so I stopped.


In order to battle it out for slots two through ten, I calculated the average placement of each film on all unique lists. For example, if Jurassic Park was ranked 10th on list one, 4th on list two and 85th on list three, the film’s meta score would be 33.  (10 + 4 + 85 = 99 / 3 = 33)


10: The Gold Rush (1925) Description: “A prospector goes to the Klondike in search of gold and finds it and more.”
Starring: Charles Chaplin, Mack Swain
Runtime:1 hour, 29 minutes

9: City Lights (1931) Description: “The Tramp falls in love with a beautiful, blind flower girl who is in financial trouble.”
Starring: Charles Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Florence Lee
Runtime: 1 hour, 27 minutes

8: Some Like it Hot (1959) Description: “This hysterical comedy from director Billy Wilder finds Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon on the lam after witnessing a mob hit. They join an all-girl jazz band and masquerade as women in order to elude the Chicago mobsters, and befriending a beautiful singer (Marilyn Monroe) and a wealthy business magnate.”
Starring: Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemon
Runtime: 2 hours, 1 minute

7: Annie Hall (1977) Description: “Neurotic New York comedian Alvy Singer falls in love with the ditsy Annie Hall.”
Starring: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Tony Roberts
Runtime: 1 hour, 33 minutes

6: Airplane! (1980) Description: “The persons and events in this film are fictitious – fortunately! A masterpiece of off-the-wall comedy, Airplane!”
Starring: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves
Runtime: 1 hour, 27 minutes

5: It Happened One Night (1934) Description: “Winner of all 5 major 1934 Oscars(r), including Best Picture! When a brash reporter (Clark Gable) meets a runaway heiress (Claudette Colbert), can love be far behind? A Frank Capra/Columbia Classic.”
Starring: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Walter Connolly
Runtime: 1 hour, 45 minutes

4: Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) Description: “
The entire Python gang star in this hilarious retelling of the Knights of King Arthur and their quest for the Holy Grail.”
Starring: Graham Chapman, John Cleese
Runtime: 1 hour, 32 minutes

3: Modern Times (1936) Description: “Modern Times, Charlie Chaplin’s last outing as the Little Tramp, puts the iconic character to work as a giddily inept factory employee who becomes smitten with a gorgeous gamine (Paulette Goddard).”
Starring: Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman
Runtime: 1 hour, 27 minutes

2: Singin’ in the Rain (1952) Description: “Gene Kelly stars as a Hollywood star of the silent era who finds his career jeopardized when he and his shrill-voiced leading lady must appear in a talkie together.”
Starring: Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor
Runtime: 1 hour, 42 minutes

1: Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (1964) Description: “Wickedly dark comedy features Peter Sellers (in three roles) in the midst of impending nuclear war.”
Starring: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott
Runtime: 1 hour, 34 minutes

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