Celebrating side-splitting film and TV, from slapstick legends to today's anarchic voices.
Fooling about became a fine art through the early decades of cinema, but comedy genius is too often under-recognised.
It’s the gift of perfect timing, an expertly executed sight-gag, a zinging wise-crack, a giddy rush of manic energy. Whether perfectly choreographed, brutally raw, or conjured out of improvisation and collaboration, the best comedy is ultimately disruptive.
It punctures pomposity, and blows a raspberry at social convention: the proto-feminist whiplash of screwball wit, the rambunctious working-class revolt of Carry On, the purposeful anarchy of alternative comedy.
Our three online collections (Rentals, Subscription, Free) celebrate the changing face of what – and who – we find funny.
Tilly and the Fire Engines
Mischievous sisters Tilly and Sally borrow a fire engine and take it for a joy ride in this spirited film comedy.
Comedy1969101 mins Location: Camden
A hen-pecked inventor plots murder while he leads a bizarre double life as a bewigged playboy who runs a dating agency
Morecambe and Wise - Be Wise Don't Drink and Drive
Public Information Filler19631 mins
Ernie tells Eric to ‘be wise’ and not drive home after their Christmas party
Britannia of Billingsgate
Comedy193378 mins Location: Southwark Park
A star is born in this effervescent musical comedy that moves between Billingsgate Fish Market and the glamour of the film world.
Terry-Thomas returns to the stage
Current affairs19724 mins Location: Torquay
Terry-Thomas talks effusively in this interview about his return to the stage.
Arthur Askey on How to Become a Dentist Lesson 1. How to Pull
Big-hearted Arthur Askey gets to grips with dentistry in this silly little advert for Gibbs SR toothpaste.
Turn-Up for Tony
Comedy196829 mins Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
A Tyne Tees Television comedy romance is a forgotten gem from a 1960s decade of radical urban change in Newcastle.
The Over-amorous Artist
Sex comedy197445 mins Location: Walton on the Hill
Sample smutty suburban hijinks of an ultra-low budget kind in this shamelessly seedy 1970s sex comedy
Bless 'em All
AWOL for more than half a century, but now back on parade, this cheery army comedy is a showcase for variety star Hal Monty and a young Max Bygraves.
Green Grow the Rushes
Comedy195178 mins Location: New Romney
Brandy-smuggling locals resist government interference in this Ealing-esque comedy, filmed on Romney Marsh
A La Carte
Amateur film19659 mins Location: Colchester
Messy slapstick comedy featuring an ineptitude waiter, presented by Colchester Cine Club and starring an ensemble cast of club members.
Wife the Weaker Vessel
A henpecked husband plots revenge on his boastful bachelor friend by marrying him to a seemingly meek girl who turns out to be anything but.
A Seaside Introduction
Comedy19114 minsSilent Location: Brighton
A beach flirtation gets complicated when a thief makes off with a woman's shoes in this fun comedy
I Do Like to Be Where the Girls Are
A jaunty song with a pantomime air is matched to its original audio recording in this Vivaphone film from Cecil Hepworth.
The Kiss in the Tunnel
The earliest film kiss held by the BFI National Archive is this stolen smooch aboard a steam train, an important example of Victorian film.
The Magic Glass
An inventor develops a magnifying glass that can see though solid objects, but when he uses it on his family it proves more curse than boon...
The Man Who Never Made Good
Comedy19148 minsSilent Location: Croydon
A bungling bumpkin fails at a number of jobs in this slapstick comedy - before he finds his true calling.
An Engagement of Convenience
Silent British star Alma Taylor finds love in this dramatic short, which packs forgery, blackmail and romance into its 15-minute running time.