An old rule of show business is Tragedy + Timing = Comedy. We've all seen a movie that's supposed to tug at the ol' heartstrings, but the timing is so off that everyone in the theater bursts out laughing (prime example: Showgirls). A good comedy can be so hard to pull off that we think that they deserve a little notice (despite what the Academy thinks). So without further ado, here are our choices for some top comedies.

Note that the films on our list all involve some kind of subversiveness, be it cross-dressing, political incorrectness, or the mocking of airline disasters. It's the challenging of traditional values that makes us giggle uncomfortably in our seats. And if you don't like our list, just imagine: we could have put Jerry Lewis on it. Now that would have been a tragedy. . .

1. AIRPLANE! (1980)

"Surely you can't be serious!"
"I am serious. And don't call me Shirley."

Airplane! has more laughs per minute than any other recent movie. Period. A parody of all of those disaster films so popular in the 70s (Airport, Earthquake, The Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure…), Airplane! throws every conceivable joke, pun, and off-color insult up on the screen, and dares you to not laugh.

The plot is simple: Ted Stryker (Robert Hayes) is an ex-war pilot trying to reconcile with girlfriend Elaine (Julie Hagerty), an airline stewardess. He gets on her flight to surprise her, when the pilots suddenly get food poisoning. Despite his post-traumatic stress disorder, Ted is the only one who can land the plane.

But such an explanation drains all of the fun out of the movie. Imagine:

  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as one of the co-pilots

  • Barbara "Beaver Cleaver's Mom" Billingsley as a woman who can interpret "Jive" to the Jive-impaired

  • Ethel Merman as a shell-shocked soldier who thinks he's Ethel Merman

  • The airplane captain asking a 7-year-old boy if he'd ever been in a Turkish prison

And there are as many bad puns and visual jokes as the brain could possibly take in. An extremely quotable film (while a man is on the phone talking to the Mayo Clinic, the operator interrupts, saying that he has a call from Mr. Hamm on line five. The man's response: "Give me Hamm on five, hold the Mayo."), it must be watched several times to get all the punchlines.

Now, this movie is not for everybody. If you hate dumb jokes, require a plot, are politically-correct, or don't appreciate a good old-fashioned joke about fecal matter, then this definitely is not the film for you. It's brazenly tasteless, making fun of African tribes, the disabled, nuns, and bestiality. But it wears its tastelessness like a badge of honor. Courage like that must be embraced.