The 25 best comedy movies to see before you die (of laughter)

5. Blazing Saddles (1974)

The movie: Blazing Saddles is one of Mel Brooks' finest spoofs. To some, it's his best work. To him? "It’s the funniest movie, I think, by far," he said after it landed at number four on the AFI's best comedy countdown. "No matter what the AFI list says. Five should be the next number. One to four should be Blazing Saddles.” 

It satirises all the cliches of the Hollywood western, the work of writers Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor, resulting in a ridiculously silly film. Told from the perspective of a black sheriff in an all-white town, Cleavon Little's lawman tries to stop the place getting torn down to make way for railway tracks. Brooks wrings this set-up for as many gags as he can without a jot of concern for historical accuracy.  

It's offensive, chocked with political incorrectness, and makes mockery of the blatant racism inherent in early Westerns. Hard to imagine anything this subversive hitting screens today.   

Funniest moment: The town prepares for the arrival of its new sheriff, and everything gets really un-PC, really fast when they realise he's African American. 

4. This is Spinal Tap (1984)

The movie: A rock mockumentary that frequently tops 'best of' comedy countdowns, This Is Spinal Tap is both sharp and supremely daft. It's a bemusing look into the lives of an English rock band told by a film crew following them on tour. The three leads, Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest and Michael McKean, even bonded like a proper band and ad-libbed most of their scenes, giving the film that added wacky edge. Not like it needs it. 

The film's gone on to become such a cultural treasure it was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry, and entered into Library of Congress. Forever. See? Even the government's not running the risk of this movie ever getting deleted.   

Funniest moment: Spinal Tap's one of those movies that's full of so many stand-out moments, it's impossible to pick a favourite. Alright, so the tiny Stonehenge being lowered onto the stage does come close.  

3. Groundhog Day (1992)

The movie: Bill Murray's sarcastic news reporter Phil Connors is tasked with covering the annual Groundhog Day event. "This is one occasion where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather," he says to his viewers. One of many lines delivered with Murray's trademark wit, hours before Connors stumbles into a headfuck of a scenario.  

Living the same day over and over is a superb premise. It's easy to imagine it being slotted into any genre, but it works as a great vehicle for comedy. Connors is unlike most people, who'd perhaps see this gift as a blessing and not a curse, his grumpy behaviour and suicidal tendencies getting rid of any potential dips into cheesy sentimentalism. 

Murray is at his best here, being a curmudgeon who takes decades - or according to one rumor, hundreds of years - to realise what life's all about. He just happens to be a very funny ole' bastard in the process.  

Funniest moment: The steadily-mounting frustration on Phil's face as he greets Ned Ryerson every single day... 

2. Airplane! (1980)

The movie: After the Roland Emmerich era of disaster movies it's only a matter of time before we get a new spoof. But will it top the best disaster parody ever made?  

Airplane's writers Jim Abrahams and David and Jerry Zucker stitch together as many debauched, juvenile and downright crass jokes as possible into the film's brisk running time. A drunk airplane pilot discovers that his passengers are coming down with a hideous stomach bug, so it's up to him and his stewardess girlfriend to land safely. Not that that matters, really. The plot isn't the point of the movie; the amount of zany antics the characters can get up to is.   

No matter how many terrible movies it influenced, not one comes close to Airplane's slapstick prowess. Probably because Meet the Spartans doesn't have Robert Hays or Leslie Nielsen doing stuff like this.   

Funniest moment: A hysterical passenger gets "taken care of" by... well, practically everyone on the plane shakes her about a bit. 

1. Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979) 

The movie: Life of Brian is what happens when a group of top-of-their-game comedians orchestrate a razor-sharp takedown of organised religion. Monty Python's most talked about features is a subversive stab at Christianity. It's a movie that stirred up so much controversy upon release that it was refused screenings in certain parts of the UK. Why? On the account of it being blasphemous... which is entirely its point.

Decades later it's a widely-loved movie that pokes and prods at topics through sharp observation and even sharper wit. What's the best way to do that? To re-tell Christ's journey of course! Jesus' humble beginnings are nixed in favor of a chap called Brian - Jesus' next door neighbor who'd do anything to not be called the messiah. 

In true Monty Python fashion, any and every opportunity to highlight hypocrisy of both church and state is approached with glee. What makes Life of Brian special is that none of it's done with malice, it's actually incredibly cleverly done. Through plenty of slapstick, one-liners  and political rants disguised as comical outbursts, of course.  

Funniest moment: "He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy!"