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*Comedy For Comedy's Sake!


The movies listed in other sections of Therapeutic Cinema require the viewer to be in a certain mind set and to be willing to have a "thoughtful and concentrated experience." A Comedy Tonight! suggests the opposite. Just enjoy the movie without trying to assign any deeper meaning.

We all need to laugh. Especially when weíre under stress. Laughter and humor are essential for a balanced mental state and can facilitate oneís recovery from painful or difficult experiences and situations. This is not to say that we should laugh at our loss and misfortunes. As it says in Ecclesiastics, there is a time to laugh and a time to cry.

There is a scene in the 1941 movie Sullivanís Travels in which a chain gang is ushered into a simple rural church. These poor wretches have been working during the day under the hot southern sun and stern eyes of their guards. They are weary and defeated men. The warden probably realizes that they need a momentís respite. In the church the minister entertains them by showing old Mickey Mouse cartoons. The prisoners are able to laugh freely, and for a moment we see that they experience a needed break from the misery of their lives. The scene is neither forced nor contrived. Instead it reveals the importance of humor.

Therapists have begun to appreciate the importance of humor and laughter. There is even a professional group that promotes the "discreet" use of humor in psychotherapy (The American Association for Therapeutic Humor which has a statement of Twelve Affirmations of Positive Humor. There was even a front page article in the APA Monitor, the newspaper of the American Psychological Association, which featured the use of humor in psychotherapy.  Humor has become serious stuff!


Most places that rent and sell videos have a section, usually a big section, for comedies. But you have to be selective. Some films labeled "comedies" arenít all that funny. Iím not talking about bad comedies. Iím referring to a number of biting satires, dark comedies, penetrating farces, and mocking parodies; movies that are serious comedies, and are not intended to be light, refreshing nor upbeat. Smoke Signals, Shirley Valentine and Muriel's Wedding are classified as comedies but from my point of view they are serious little films with some humorous moments or funny characters. Donít get me wrong. I love these three movies, but I would never recommend them for a laugh.

You probably have some favorite comedies you would enjoy seeing again.  Make a point to do that, especially when you need a break from the stress in your life.  In fact, set aside one night a week to watch a comedy.  If you would like to see some you have never seen, there are lots around and lots of people who will make suggestions.  Everyone seems to have their favorites that they will loan or encourage others to rent and view.  I have included some of mine here.  My suggestions are grouped into the categories listed on the left.  Just click the icons to see the names and information about these comedies.


Humor is a peculiar thing. What may cause one person to roar with laughter can bore, irritate, or offend another. My own tastes tend to be eclectic; I respond to a broad range of comedic styles, from the more sophisticated and even conventional to the truly weird.

My selection represents movies that I have personally enjoyed for their humor. Some, possibly many, may not match your tastes for one reason or another.  For this reason I give information about each film to assist you in deciding if it's a film you might like.  In addition to brief descriptions, the films are rated on characteristics that tend to turn some people off (or on).

The films are also classified by comedy genre:

Burlesque: Unrefined and broad, often making a subject appear ridiculous

Slapstick: Physical humor, often loud and boisterous.

Screwball: Odd and eccentric. Walking on the weird side

Situation Comedy: People caught in funny situations

Witty: Clever and sophisticated

Satire: Exposes folly or wickedness

These categories are used to further steer you to the types of comedies you may prefer and away from those you dislike. Sometimes these differences are very pronounced. If a Situation Comedy is the equivalent of tickling oneís lover with a feather, Burlesque uses the whole chicken! Realize, though, that sometimes the distinction is arbitrary; Burlesque and Slapstick are not always all that different. And some films are a mixture of different types of comedy. In fact what I list as "The Classics" are often hard to put in a single comedy genre.
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Last modified: 18 March, 2009