Everybody needs a good laugh from time to time. Nowadays more than ever. And between streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and HBO Max, there’s never been a greater wealth or assortment of comedies to choose from or available at the click of a button.
So, with that in mind, we’ve sifted through the libraries of the most popular streaming services to bring you our top picks for the 7 best comedies streaming right now.
Eric Andre and Lil Rel Howery star in Kitao Sakurai’s hidden camera comedy Bad Trip as best friends Chris and Bud who embark on a road trip from Florida to New York City so Chris can propose to his high school crush (Michaela Conlin). Polygon’s own Matt Patches gave the film a glowing endorsement last March when he wrote, “From Andre bursting through the glass door of an unsuspecting stranger’s house to a dance sequence fail staged among food-court diners to a full-on zoo attack by a horny ape, the 90-minute comedy is a master class in how production value can be used to pull off high-impact pranks. Bad Trip is the Mad Max: Fury Road of fucking with people, and it didn’t surprise me in the least to see Jackass mastermind Jeff Tremaine’s name among the producers.”
Bad Trip is available to stream on Netflix.
Happy Death Day director Christopher Landon tries his hand at the body swap subgenre with his 2020 slasher comedy Freaky starring Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton. A twist on the premise of Freaky Friday, the film centers on a teenage girl (Newton) who accidentally switches bodies with a middle-aged serial killer (Vaughn) and must find a way to switch back while avoiding being murdered herself. As Roxana Hadidi wrote in her review for Polygon, “Freaky is committed to a cheeky upending of genre conventions, with a concluding act that delivers one last bloody thrill [...] amusing and gory enough to still be an entertaining slasher movie with its own satisfying spin on the final-girl trope.” —Toussaint Egan
Freaky is available to stream on HBO Max.
Before the “dark comedy” label lost all meaning, Crumb director Terry Zwigoff and graphic novelist Daniel Clowes adapted Clowes’ own comic into one of the funniest, bleakest movies in the teen genre. When I saw Ghost World as an actual high schooler, it felt a bit like getting a live-action Daria movie. Was I high? We’ll never know for sure, but 15 years later, it’s so much more, weaving together hyper-detailed comedy on the level of The Simpsons with a tragic journey of identity. The film is an elegy to the rebellious Gen X dream, and a crash course in existence for all 18-year-olds who followed.
The movie stars Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson as Enid and Rebecca, two recent graduates moving in opposite directions. Rebecca has a barista gig and is eager to get her own place; Enid can’t hold a job, and is lost in the abyss of punk attitude and occupational malaise. One day, Enid pranks a lonely 40-something named Seymour (Steve Buscemi) into believing the woman of his dreams wants to meet him at a diner. The date breaks his heart, and that should be the end of it, but Enid becomes mesmerized by his hopelessness. The two eventually strike up a platonic friendship, one that, as they talk about old records, dating, and the racist history of the local fried chicken chain, has the chance to be mutually beneficial for them both — or apocalyptic. Through it all, Zwigoff uses background gags, caricature, farts, and a touch of magical realism to rip on consumer-driven capitalist culture while also wondering aloud if the rage is all bullshit. —MP
Ghost World is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
The Gold Rush
Charlie Chaplin’s adventurous comedy is nearly 100 years old, and it absolutely still holds up for the modern sense of humor. In The Gold Rush, Chaplin’s “Little Tramp” is a prospector living on a shack in the middle of the Klondike. Extreme slapstick and farce ensue, as Little Tramp’s blown by Canadian winds, stoops to eating a leather shoe for sustenance, and eventually performs his legendary fork dance. Chaplin — even more than the muscle icons of the 1980s — is the key DNA to modern action entertainment, and if you’ve never seen one of his classics, The Gold Rush is a hilarious entry point. —MP
The Gold Rush is available to stream on HBO Max.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri may be Martin McDonagh’s most lauded film, but In Bruges is his best. Hitman Ray (Colin Farrell) is sent to Bruges after botching a job, with Ken (Brendan Gleeson) tagging along to keep an eye on him. They’re meant to hide out for a few days, but the outcome of the job weighs on Ray, exacerbated by how much he doesn’t care for the idyllic Belgian city. Heartbreaking and hysterical in turns, the film is one of the best currently streaming on Netflix, regardless of genre, with virtuoso turns from everyone involved, including Ralph Fiennes as Ray and Ken’s oft-enraged boss.
In Bruges is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
Legally Blonde, the movie that gave us such iconic lines as, “You got into Harvard?” “What, like it’s hard?”, taught us the bend-and-snap, and informed the public about perm maintenance, is nothing short of a classic. When Reese Witherspoon’s Elle Woods is dumped for not being “serious” enough for her college boyfriend, she sets out to win him back by joining him at Harvard Law School. Along the way she learns that actually he sucks — and she makes a damn good lawyer.
Legally Blonde is available to stream on Netflix.
Director Abe Forsythe’s 2019 horror comedy Little Monsters stars Alexander England (Alien: Covenant) as Dave, a foul-mouthed and down-on-his-luck rock musician living with his sister and nephew after a rough breakup. Attempting to get on the good side of Miss Caroline (Lupita Nyong’o), his nephew’s kindergarten teacher, Dave agrees to come along and chaperone the class’ field trip to a petting zoo. Unfortunately for them, the petting zoo sits right next to a US Army base that happens to be experiencing a zombie outbreak. As the class find themselves cornered by the undead horde, Dave will have to help Caroline to make sure everyone gets out alive. Can he win her heart, or at the very least grow as a person for the experience? We won’t spoil it, but we will tell you Josh Gad gets attacked by zombies in the process. —TE
Little Monsters is available to stream on Hulu.
The early transgressive comedies of John Waters have been anointed by Criterion as art, and one can only imagine what Waters circa 1970 would make of that. Multiple Maniacs, the provocateur’s second film, is just batshit nutso, constructing a flimsy scenario in which Lady Divine (Waters’ go-to collaborator) spirals out of control on a murder spree and her ex-lover (David Lochary) plots to kill her first with other members of Waters’ Dreamlander acting troupe. In true Waters fashion, the plot is an excuse for bodily fluid expulsion, flamboyant performance, and a moment of backdoor penetration courtesy of a sacred religious object. Today, with scrutiny from every side of the ideological spectrum, it would be almost impossible to do what Waters pulled off back in the ’70s. Criterion knew what it was doing preserving these jaw-dropping memories. —MP
Multiple Maniacs is available to stream on HBO Max.
The Paper Tigers
Quoc Bao Tran’s Kung-fu action comedy stars Alain Uy, Ron Yuan (Mulan), and Mykel Shannon Jenkins as the eponymous Paper Tigers: three former martial arts prodigies who, after a lifetime of strenuous training and hard fighting, have grown into beleaguered middle-aged nobodies. But when their master is murdered, the three swear an oath to avenge his memory and bring his killer to justice. If that sounds serious, please know this falls into the Apatowian camp of Dumb Man comedy. —TE
The Paper Tigers is available to stream on Netflix.
Netflix may be cranking out romantic comedies, but the best still come from a more personal, filmmaker-driven place. Plus One, from Pen15 writers Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival before quietly settling into a place on streaming and has been largely overlooked. Don’t miss it: Maya Erskine (Pen15) and Jack Quaid (The Boys) star as best buds who’ve seen all of their friends get hitched, and have become go-to plus ones for the endless marathon of nuptials. Formula works to the movie’s advantage, finding sweet humor in modern situations and wringing Erskine and Quaid for every drip of charisma they have to offer. A gem that could easily been mistaken as product in our current era of rom-coms. —MP
Plus One is available to stream on Hulu.
If you’ve seen Airplane! a million times, immediately turn your attention to Top Secret!, an often overlooked gem from cohorts David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker. Part Elvis musical, part Cold War spy thriller and 1000% dumb, the ZAZ script gifts Val Kilmer an action comedy emboldened by the production value — war-torn set pieces and a score by Lawrence of Arabia composer Maurice Jarre go a long way to sell a gag. The movie includes everything from a Western-style bar brawl staged underwater to a scene performed entirely backward then replayed in forward-motion. Why? Laughs. So many laughs. —MP
Top Secret is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
A Shot in the Dark
Another classic comedy franchise is right at your fingertips thanks to HBO Max’s back catalogue. If you’ve never dipped into The Pink Panther or took a chance on Peter Sellers, A Shot in the Dark is a high point. Sellers, with a foot in the Chaplin era of silent comedy and another in the swagger of the 1960s, stars as Inspector Clouseau, bumped up from a supporting role in the first Pink Panther film like a regular Jack Sparrow (except, you know, this was actually a good idea). Clouseau is following the trail of a murder, there’s a light romance side plot, and, well, it’s really just a showcase for Sellers’ brand of zaniness. The Pink Panther established a number of recurring Bond-movie-like bits that would run over the series, and many of them start here, including Clouseau’s haphazard way of fight training and the accident-prone hijinks of Commissioner Dreyfus (Herbert Lom). —MP
A Shot in the Dark is available to stream on HBO Max.
The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience
The Lonely Island dropped this musical movie — a spoof of Beyoncé’s Lemonade, focused on Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire’s notorious 1980s home run streak — out of nowhere in 2019. It deserves more love.
In line with their previous efforts like Tour de Pharmacy and 7 Days in Hell (co-starring Kit Harington!), The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience explores the shared psyche of Canseco and McGwire through poetry, abstract imagery, and profane lyrics. Haim, Maya Rudolph, Hannah Simone, Jenny Slate, Jim O’Heir and Sterling K Brown — as Sia — all appear. Surprisingly, Samberg and Schaffer don’t skimp on the darkness of the Bash Brothers. With lyrics like “Stab that needle in my ass until I am rich / Make me a god with the chemical sciences,” the Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience eventually finds McGwire begging a vision of his father to save his life, as Canseco raps about how therapy is for the weak. —MP
The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience is available to stream on Netflix.