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Comedy Genius

October 2018-January 2019

From Oct through Jan we have tons of side-splitting film and TV for you, whether you like your comedy straight-up, slapstick or smutty.

Introduction by BFI Creative Director Heather Stewart


  • Some Like It Hot

    Some Like It Hot

    Enjoy a sparkling 4K restoration of this classic, cross-dressing caper starring Curtis, Lemmon and Monroe.
    Opens 2 November

  • 9 to 5

    9 to 5

    This gloriously feminist revenge comedy sees three put-upon office workers turn the tables on their sleazy boss.
    Opens 16 November

Events and strands



“Comedy is a distortion of what is happening, and there will always be something happening”
Steve Martin

There’s nothing better than laughing together in the cinema. But great comedy can also challenge us to think.

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 nation-wide season brings the acknowledged comedy greats back to the big screen for everyone to enjoy, and celebrates a new wave of talent on TV and online that’s changing the face of what – and who – we find funny.

Heather Stewart


“You’ll see it’s all a show
Keep ‘em laughing as you go,
Just remember that
the last laugh is on you...”
Monty Python’s Life of Brian

“How can you make jokes about Hitler?” Mel Brooks was asked on release of his film The Producers in 1967. He said he wanted “to rob Hitler of his posthumous power and myths.” Charlie Chaplin and Ernst Lubitsch courted controversy much earlier, using comedy to lampoon the führer at the height of his power in films which have since been accorded classic status. Laughter isn’t just a little light relief in serious times, it can be a political strategy and expression of freedom.

Rhidian Davis


See our screenings of Some Like It Hot and 9 to 5, our Future Film recommends, and a free collections focus in the library.

See the December TV preview of Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas Special.

We also have a free Mediatheque collection and free exhibition.

Coming in January: a season of Laurel and Hardy, and more Comedy Genius across the UK.

Comedy Cuts: Barbershops & Black Comedy Legends
From 16-18 November, Foyer

We Are Parable present a free, immersive pop-up barbershop installation in the foyer inspired by the classic 90s sitcom Desmond’s. Find out more.

The Comedy Genius season takes place at venues across the UK and on BFI Player.

Supported by

Comedy Central


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