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Comedy Genius

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.

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The Perfect Woman
The Perfect Woman
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The Perfect Woman

Comedy194987 mins

In a bid to improve on nature, a scientist creates a robot female. But the experiment doesn't quite turn out as planned...

Le Petomane
Le Petomane
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Le Petomane

Comedy197933 mins

The immortal Leonard Rossiter makes flatulence a fine art in this short, poignant comedy-drama from Hancock writers Galton and Simpson

Tilly and the Fire Engines
Tilly and the Fire Engines
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Tilly and the Fire Engines

Comedy19112 minsSilent

Mischievous sisters Tilly and Sally borrow a fire engine and take it for a joy ride in this spirited film comedy.

Something Completely Different
Something Completely Different
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Something Completely Different

19744 minsSilent Location: Doune

Join John Cleese and the cast of Monty Python and the Holy Grail on location in Scotland

Arthur? Arthur!
Arthur? Arthur!
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Arthur? Arthur!

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

Miranda
Miranda
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Miranda

Comedy194880 mins

A man goes fishing and comes home with a most unusual catch in this comedy feature.

Is This a Record?
Is This a Record?
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Is This a Record?

Comedy197322 mins

Pythons join Frank Muir, Connie Booth and Willie Rushton celebrating the Guinness Book of Records.

Shooting Stars
Shooting Stars
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Shooting Stars

Comedy193732 mins

Black music hall stars Scott and Whaley perform stereotypical minstrel routines in blackface in this 1937 touring revue.

Morecambe and Wise - Be Wise Don't Drink and Drive
Morecambe and Wise - Be Wise Don't Drink and Drive
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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

A Couple of Beauties
A Couple of Beauties
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A Couple of Beauties

Comedy197229 mins

Innuendo-laden crime caper, a star vehicle for Manchester-based drag queen Bunny Lewis

It All Goes to Show
It All Goes to Show
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It All Goes to Show

Comedy197027 mins Location: Margate

Arthur Lowe is hilarious as a hen-pecked husband in this cheeky seaside-set comedy, shot in Margate.

Careless Love
Careless Love
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Careless Love

Comedy1977 mins

Black comedy starring Jane Asher in which a woman finds her lover unsympathetic to the idea of marriage and takes drastic action.

Happy Family
Happy Family
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Happy Family

Comedy195282 mins

A defiant London family fights valiantly to retain their South Bank home in this cheerful comedy set around 1951's Festival of Britain.

Britannia of Billingsgate
Britannia of Billingsgate
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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.

Afterlife
Afterlife
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Afterlife

Comedy201510 mins

After Martin Stevens is killed in a car accident he finds himself in a waiting room, pending judgement.

Charlie Drake tees off
Charlie Drake tees off
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Charlie Drake tees off

Current affairs19621 mins Location: Devon

Drake muses on why he carries two pairs of trousers - just in case he has a hole in one.

Roy Hudd in Torquay
Roy Hudd in Torquay
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Roy Hudd in Torquay

Current affairs19664 mins Location: Torquay

Roy Hudd plays to a sell-out Princess Theatre.

Terry-Thomas returns to the stage
Terry-Thomas returns to the stage
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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
Arthur Askey on How to Become a Dentist  Lesson 1.  How to Pull
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Arthur Askey on How to Become a Dentist Lesson 1. How to Pull

Advert19472 mins

Big-hearted Arthur Askey gets to grips with dentistry in this silly little advert for Gibbs SR toothpaste.

Billy Burden Local Yokel
Billy Burden Local Yokel
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Billy Burden Local Yokel

Current affairs197912 mins Location: Torquay

Local yokel comedian who delivered dialect and dialogue wherever he went.

Bob Hope in Plymouth
Bob Hope in Plymouth
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Bob Hope in Plymouth

Current affairs19621 mins Location: Plymouth

Bob Hope disembarks the Queen Elizabeth II in Plymouth.

Turn-Up for Tony
Turn-Up for Tony
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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
The Over-amorous Artist
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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

The Inn Way Out
The Inn Way Out
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The Inn Way Out

196730 mins

A man encounters all sorts of strange places and people when he goes out for cigarettes

The Boat
The Boat
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The Boat

Comedy197522 mins Location: Loch Lomond National Nature Reserve

Scots comedian Chic Murray stars in this gentle comedy short about a man who inherits his uncle’s boat

Cluck
Cluck
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Cluck

Comedy199811 mins Location: Belfast

Black comedy about a teenage idealist who builds a bomb, hijacks a lorry and sets off on a most peculiar mission.

B-Day
B-Day
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B-Day

Amateur film19650 minsSilent

An experience many of us will be able to relate to, though there wouldn’t have been someone around to film the comic consequences.

Bless 'em All
Bless 'em All
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Bless 'em All

Comedy194871 mins

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
Green Grow the Rushes
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Green Grow the Rushes

Comedy195178 mins Location: New Romney

Brandy-smuggling locals resist government interference in this Ealing-esque comedy, filmed on Romney Marsh

Floating
Floating
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Floating

Comedy199141 mins Location: Limehouse

Deliciously dark psychodrama about a Docklands bus driver who turns his family home into a second Noah's ark.

The Missing Link
The Missing Link
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The Missing Link

Comedy19172 minsSilent

British comic Lupino Lane stars in this surviving fragment from one of his earliest films, a slapstick school romp

The Dummy
The Dummy
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The Dummy

Comedy191619 minsSilent

Lupino Lane comedy filmed in London before he became a Hollywood legend

A La Carte
A La Carte
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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.

Kate Plus Ten
Kate Plus Ten
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Kate Plus Ten

Crime193880 mins

Laughs and thrills come thick and fast in this Edgar Wallace comedy-thriller with a hair-raising car versus train chase.

Bang!
Bang!
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Bang!

Comedy19678 mins

Surreal comedy for a post-apocalyptic landscape

The Ghost Train
The Ghost Train
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The Ghost Train

Comedy193139 mins

Surviving footage of the first sound version of Arnold Ridley's famous railway station comedy thriller

Hobson's Choice
Hobson's Choice
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Hobson's Choice

Comedy192080 minsSilent

The first film adaptation of Harold Brighouse's Salford-set play, humorously depicting the travails of a dipsomaniac cobbler.

Sharps and Flats
Sharps and Flats
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Sharps and Flats

Comedy191511 minsSilent

The Bamforth Company translate their saucy seaside postcard humour into film comedy.

Scottie and the Frogs
Scottie and the Frogs
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Scottie and the Frogs

Comedy19157 minsSilent

A mischievous youth causes havoc with his amphibian-assisted antics.

Pimple in the Whip
Pimple in the Whip
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Pimple in the Whip

Comedy191722 minsSilent

Hilariously shambolic parody of an equestrian stage smash, by the prolific entertainer Pimple

Pimple Has One
Pimple Has One
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Pimple Has One

Comedy19156 minsSilent

The mischievous Pimple takes to the bottle in this entertaining comedy

Pimple's Uncle
Pimple's Uncle
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Pimple's Uncle

Comedy191514 minsSilent

This daft comedy stars funny-duo Fred and Joe Evans in a battle to secure an inheritance from an insane uncle.

Wife the Weaker Vessel
Wife the Weaker Vessel
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Wife the Weaker Vessel

Comedy191510 minsSilent

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
A Seaside Introduction
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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
I Do Like to Be Where the Girls Are
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I Do Like to Be Where the Girls Are

19123 mins

A jaunty song with a pantomime air is matched to its original audio recording in this Vivaphone film from Cecil Hepworth.

Tilly's Party
Tilly's Party
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Tilly's Party

Comedy19117 minsSilent

Irrepressible sister act Tilly and Sally throw a party - of sorts - in this chaotic comedy caper.

Tilly the Tomboy Visits the Poor
Tilly the Tomboy Visits the Poor
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Tilly the Tomboy Visits the Poor

Comedy19106 minsSilent

Tilly and her sister Sally cause chaos when they visit an elderly, bedridden neighbour

A Seaside Girl
A Seaside Girl
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A Seaside Girl

Comedy19075 minsSilent Location: Bognor Regis

At the seaside, a young Edwardian lady is pursued by three suitors, but which one will win her hand?

Mike Murphy As Picture Actor
Mike Murphy As Picture Actor
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Mike Murphy As Picture Actor

Comedy19146 minsSilent

Cut! An aspiring thespian runs amok on a film set in this slapstick silent comedy.

Tubby's Rest Cure
Tubby's Rest Cure
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Tubby's Rest Cure

Comedy191615 minsSilent

WWI conscription has whisked away all the young men, leaving the girls so man-hungry that even Tubby looks attractive!

Tubby's Typewriter
Tubby's Typewriter
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Tubby's Typewriter

Comedy191611 minsSilent

Newlywed Tubby fancies another man's typewriter and ends up in hot water with his new wife

Old Maid's Valentine
Old Maid's Valentine
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Old Maid's Valentine

Comedy19001 minsSilent

Early comedy in which a cruel joke is played on an old maid

The Kiss in the Tunnel
The Kiss in the Tunnel
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The Kiss in the Tunnel

Comedy18992 minsSilent

The earliest film kiss held by the BFI National Archive is this stolen smooch aboard a steam train, an important example of Victorian film.

Two Clowns
Two Clowns
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Two Clowns

Interest film19062 minsSilent

A showcase for GA Smith’s patented Kinemacolor process, based around a suitably colourful subject

The Magic Glass
The Magic Glass
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The Magic Glass

Comedy191412 minsSilent

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 Mystic Glove
The Mystic Glove
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The Mystic Glove

Comedy19145 minsSilent

Bizarre comedy in which an overfed diner has a peculiar dream involving a spectre and magical gloves.

The Man Who Never Made Good
The Man Who Never Made Good
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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.

Are We Down-hearted?
Are We Down-hearted?
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Are We Down-hearted?

Musical19113 mins

Cecil Hepworth’s Vivaphone film features Hay Plumb singing George Robins’ optimistic 1906 ditty.

An Engagement of Convenience
An Engagement of Convenience
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An Engagement of Convenience

Comedy191416 minsSilent

Silent British star Alma Taylor finds love in this dramatic short, which packs forgery, blackmail and romance into its 15-minute running time.

Playmates
Playmates
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Playmates

Cinemagazine19222 minsSilent

Will Hay and M’lita Dolores play a pair of spoiled brats squabbling over a menagerie of mechanical toys.

No Monkey Business
No Monkey Business
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No Monkey Business

Comedy193678 mins

A man goes ape when his boss' performing monkey is impounded by creditors.

Citizen Ruth from Comedy Genius

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The Wayward Cloud from Comedy Genius

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