Top 10 80s Comedies


Oliver Barnfield

The 80s were a great time for comedies, but not all of them have stood the test of time. These 10 picks definitely do.

Oliver Barnfield, Video Editor

The 1980s were a great time to be a fan of horror and comedy. As a fan of both of these genres, it’s clear that I watch a lot of 80s movies. The 1970s may have been a great time for slower and artsier movies but the 80s bought us fast, funny and gory movies that anyone could enjoy. So let’s get into the 10 movies that made us laugh generations away from their inception. 


10. Beetlejuice

Before he started making live action Disney movies like Dumbo, Tim Burton was one of the most exciting and interesting directors working in Hollywood. After starting his career with a movie we will see later on this list, he made Beetlejuice, a surreal and spooky comedy about the ghost with the most: Betelgeuse. It’s filled with the crazy special effects and weird characters, as would become a Burton trademark, and while he may be better known for Batman and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, nothing can top Beetlejuice


9. After Hours

Martin Scorsese is without a doubt one of the most well known directors of all time, and for good reason. With classics like Goodfellas and Taxi Driver, it’s clear he is great at making gritty crime films about troubled men. But in the mid 1980s he made two offbeat comedies back to back, The King of Comedy and After Hours. After Hours is the better of the two, and features a man out on the streets of New York City trying to survive angry bikers, clingy waitresses, and brutish bartenders. Taking place over the course of one night, After Hours may not be as complex as Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, or any of his darker classics beloved by film fans, but it’s certainly more fun.


8. True Stories

Is True Stories a comedy? One could say it’s not, but I was laughing the whole time, so in my mind it certainly is. The film was a passion project of Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, as he starred, wrote, and directed this quirky look at small town life. People who know me will know that Talking Heads are my favorite band, so I was a little disappointed when the group barely featured in the movie. But by the end credits, I was beaming ear to ear and didn’t care one bit that Byrne’s bandmates weren’t involved. True Stories doesn’t strive for belly laughs, but will instead leave you smiling at the unusual characters and great songs. 


7. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

The quintessential teen comedy, Ferris Bueller captured the zeitgeist upon its release and still has a huge fanbase to this day. The premise is simple, the characters well-written, and the soundtrack instantly iconic. Director John Hughes also made other classics like The Breakfast ClubPretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles, but nothing can top this perfect film. 


6. UHF

Weird Al Yankovich is one of the most beloved comedy entertainers still working today. I respect Yankovich a lot but wouldn’t call myself a fan. However, I am a big fan of his 1989 comedy classic UHF. Yankovich plays the owner of a small UHF TV station who must fight to keep his channel alive with the help of a bumbling janitor, played by future Seinfeld star Michael Richards. Filled with zany music, over the top performances, and plenty of crazy fictional TV programs, UHF is sure to be a future favorite for you and your family.


5. A Fish Called Wanda

This off-the-wall heist comedy has some of the most memorable characters ever put to film. This insane, laugh a minute movie was written by John Cleese of Monty Python, who also plays lead character Archie Leach. Oddly, Leach is the most normal character in the film, even though Cleese is easily the best known comedic actor on display. But it doesn’t matter, because the standout star here is Kevin Kline as the despicable Otto West. Otto is incredibly annoying, and this is done on purpose, but he never comes off as grating. Every minute he appears on screen is like watching a train wreck: horrible, yes, but you can’t look away. A Fish Called Wanda combines physical comedy, quick verbal jokes and strong visual gags to make a wonderful blend of styles that will definitely make you laugh.


4. Ghostbusters

Who ya gonna call? Why, your local video store, of course, so you can buy a copy of Ghostbusters! Ghostbusters is a movie that just never gets old no matter how many times you watch it. In fact, it improves. I first saw Ghostbusters when I was about 11. Sure, I liked it, but I was a little disappointed. It wasn’t as funny as I expected it to be. Only recently did I rewatch it, on the big screen this time, and to my surprise I loved it way more than on my first watch. Many of the jokes went over my head the first time, but when rewatching it I was able to fully understand the witty lines to their full extent. If all you know is the theme song, take a look. It’s funny, heartwarming, and exciting. What’s not to love?


3. Airplane!

Many people consider Airplane! to be the funniest movie of all time. And I may agree with them. Airplane! is filled to the brim with jokes, gags and goofs. Not a minute goes by without a joke, and if it doesn’t make you laugh, a new one will come along that surely will. The humor here is incredibly dumb, so much so that you almost feel bad about laughing at it. It takes a lot of talent to pull off humor as fast and memorable as the kind in Airplane! and the filmmakers behind this classic succeed with flying colors. 


2. Back to the Future

Very few movies can be considered truly perfect. But in Robert Zemeckis’s 1985 action comedy, every comedy scene is hilarious, every action scene exciting and every character perfectly cast. The DeLorean has gone down in history as cinema’s most iconic car, and George McFly is one of the all time best characters in all of movie history. 


1. Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

Many would consider this a bit of an odd choice for funniest 80s movie. It’s not particularly well known among the general public, but talk to those who have seen it and they’ll be quoting the movie right back at you. Much like UHF, it is a vehicle for a unique comedic star, and this time it’s Paul Ruebens as the incomparable Pee Wee. There’s no real plot to speak of, and that’s ok. Pee Wee goes from place to place across the United States, meeting character after character, each funnier than the last. Another fantastic Tim Burton film, Pee Wee features so many fabulous characters it’s impossible to talk about them all, or even to pick a favorite. However, the unforgettable Large Marge scene is a clear highlight, and has wormed its way into many viewer’s brains. Pee Wee’s Big Adventure is an eternal classic, watched by adults, teens and kids alike.