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Good Comedy Movies (1975-80): Short Skits & Dirty Words

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Michael A. Smith itcherThe second half of the decade saw more mature comedies being made, many of them best remembered for their freedom with what we used to call the “F” word. ~ Michael A. Smith

It’s Easier to Work “Blue”

Not that they were bad movies, but any comedian will tell you it’s easier to work “blue”, mainly because the audience is so shocked by the language that they can’t help but laugh, even if it’s nervous laughter.


Shocking Comedy Movie Recommendations

‘If You Don’t Stop It…You’ll Go Blind’ (Keefe Brasselle & Bob Levy, 1976) / ‘Can I Do It ’till I Need Glasses’ (I. Robert Levy, 1977)

I was an impressionable movie theatre usher in the mid to late 1970s and these two films still stick out in my mind.

Similar in style to ‘The Groove Tube,’ these films basically consisted of every dirty joke you may have told in junior high school, brought to life by a cast so diverse that it includes both Robin Williams and Ron Jeremy!

‘The Kentucky Fried Movie’ (John Landis, 1977)

“In the past year, over 800,000 Americans have died. Despite millions of dollars of research, death continues to be our nation’s number one killer.”

If you’re a fan of ‘Airplane’ (1980), ‘Top Secret’ (1983) or the ‘Hot Shots’ series, this is the film that made them all possible.

Written by David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker, the film features parody film trailers, a brilliant take-off on Bruce Lee’s ‘Enter the Dragon’ (1973) and commercials for such items as a board game based on the Kennedy Assassination.

‘Slap Shot’ (George Roy Hill, 1977)

“I have to confess I’ve never let the children watch a hockey game. I have a theory that children imitate what they see on a TV screen.”

This is a film that often ends up on the list of best sport movies but doesn’t get the comedy love it deserves.

Starring a very foul-mouthed Paul Newman as the player/coach of a minor league hockey team, the film is best remembered for the refunds theatre managers had to give all of gray haired old ladies who could not believe someone as nice as Paul Newman would say “that” word. Repeatedly.

I also give the film extra points because the movie was shot in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where my roommate was from. The majority of the “Chiefs” team consisted of Johnstown locals and my roomie knew most of them.

‘1941’ (Steven Spielberg, 1979)

“This isn’t the state of California, it’s a state of insanity.”

The second film on the list directed by an Academy Award winning director (George Roy Hill won his for 1973 ‘The Sting,’ while Spielberg would go on to win twice in the 1990s), this film is often referred to as a bomb. I guess if you compare it to Spielberg’s two previous films, ‘Jaws’ (1975) and ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ (1977), maybe it was.

But it is still funny as hell. The film tells the story of a group of people in Los Angeles directly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. With an all-star cast that featured, among others, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Treat Williams and Robert Stack, the film was written by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, who would go on to create ‘Back to the Future’ (1985).

If bad word of mouth has kept you away, I urge you to give it a look.

‘The In-Laws’ (Arthur Hiller, 1979)

“Are you interested in joining? The benefits are terrific. The trick is not to get killed. That’s really the key to the benefit program.”

I’m not really sure if this film is underrated or not, but since it’s one of my favorite comedies EVER I thought I would include it here.

Alan Arkin and Peter Falk co-star as father’s whose respective daughter and son are getting married. Arkin is a quiet dentist while Falk is a contract agent for the C.I.A.

Falk involves Arkin in one of his missions involving a hysterically funny dictator, played by the late Richard Libertini, causing the usually passive Arkin to panic. Hearing Falk describe the perils the South American locals must endure, including children being attacked by tsetse flies the size of eagles (they swoop down and grab them in their beaks), is beyond funny.


Anything Can Be Made Funny!

As the decade ended, the horizon of the 1980s beckoned, with the “parody” film being all of the rage.

While Mel Brooks had basically invented the genre with ‘Blazing Saddles’ and ‘Young Frankenstein’, and also successfully spoofed Hitchcock with ‘High Anxiety’, young filmmakers began mixing multiple movies and going for laughs. 

ZAZ films like ‘Airplane’ and ‘Top Secret’ even influenced Brooks, who went the full parody route with ‘Spaceballs’ in 1987. Original comedies were still being produced, but none had a built-in audience like the parody film.

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