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Writers Guild of America Releases List of the 101 Funniest Screenplays. What Would You Add?

Writers Guild of America Releases List of the 101 Funniest Screenplays. What Would You Add?

The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) released the list of its 101 Funniest Screenplays, last night – a list that spans 86 years of outstanding comedy screenwriting.

Voted on by members of both Guilds, films were eligible if they were exhibited theatrically. Live-action, animation, silent, and documentary features were all eligible; and films must have been written in English. Short films (under 60 minutes in length), films that initially premiered on television, and films that do not feature on-screen writing credits, were not eligible for consideration.

Of note, given this blog’s specific interests, 2 Eddie Murphy films made the cut: number 75 on the list if “Coming to America” and number 89 is “Beverly Hills Cop.” In terms of other “black films” scripts that are part of the 101 (as in scripts that tell stories that center around a black character, or black characters), we can add “Blazing Saddles” which is in the number 8 slot on the list – Mel Brooks’ 1974 comedy-western starring Cleavon Little as a black sheriff appointed by a corrupt politician to ruin the town, and who promptly becomes the politician’s most formidable adversary. That’s it. Just those 2 Eddie Murphy movies and “Blazing Saddles.” In fact, as you’d probably guess, the list isn’t exactly overflowing with diversity. At the top, in the number 1 position, is “Annie Hall” (1977); at number 2 is “Some Like it Hot” (1959); at 3 is “Groundhog Day” (1993); 4 is “Airplane!” (1980); 5 is “Tootsie” (1982); 6 is “Young Frankenstein” (1974); 7 is “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (1964); 8 is “Blazing Saddles” (1974); 9 is “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (1975); and at number 10 is “National Lampoon’s Animal House” (1978).

Those are the top 10; for the rest of the 101 scripts, visit the WGAW website here: http://www.wga.org/content/default.aspx?id=5949. And then return to share what other scripts/films you think should’ve made the list. I would actually put “Chameleon Street” on the list – Wendell Harris Jr’s still woefully under-seen, and under-appreciated dramedy that won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 1990, but was practically buried, until a revival/rediscovery about 15 years later. What else would you add that’s not on the list, whether it’s a “black film” or not?

Events honoring the screenwriters took place in Los Angeles and New York this week. The WGAW, in sponsorship with ArcLight Hollywood, held its celebration at the Cinerama Dome on Sunset Boulevard. Writer-director-actor-producer Rob Reiner hosted the evening’s program, which included screenings of film clips and panel discussions on topics ranging from “Classic Comedy” and “Satire/Spoof” to “Buddy Movies & Rom-Coms” and “High Concept.” 

A panel titled “Not on the List” paid tribute to diverse comedy screenwriters and their notable works.

Panelists included Peter Bogdanovich (“What’s Up, Doc?”), Kay Cannon (“Pitch Perfect”), Jon Favreau (“Swingers”), Peter Farrelly & Bobby Farrelly (“There’s Something About Mary,” “Dumb and Dumber”), Randi Mayem Singer (“Mrs. Doubtfire”), Alexander Payne (“Sideways,” “Election”), the “ZAZ” comedy team of Jim Abrahams & David Zucker & Jerry Zucker (“Airplane!,” “The Naked Gun”), Buck Henry (“The Graduate,” “What’s Up, Doc?”), Karen McCullah & Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith (“Legally Blonde”), Dale Launer (“My Cousin Vinny,” “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”), Marc Norman (“Shakespeare in Love”), Jennifer Westfeldt (“Kissing Jessica Stein”), George Gallo (“Midnight Run”), Robert Townsend (“Hollywood Shuffle”), Patricia Resnick (“9 to 5”), Carl Gottlieb and Michael Elias (“The Jerk”), Daniel Petrie, Jr. (“Beverly Hills Cop”), Bennett Yellin (“Dumb & Dumber”), Don Roos (“The Opposite of Sex”), and Josh Goldsmith & Cathy Yuspa (“13 Going on 30”). 

WGAW President Howard A. Rodman introduced the evening.

In New York, Wayne Federman (“Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”) and Julie Klausner (“Difficult People”) hosted the WGAE’s celebration at The New School Auditorium in Greenwich Village. An official event of the 2015 New York Comedy Festival, the program featured Upright Citizens Brigade performers Brooke Van Poppelen (“Hack My Life”), Matt Klinman (“Funny or Die News”), Naomi Ekperigin (“Difficult People”) and Achilles Stamatelaky (“Broad City”) reading memorable scenes from the 101 Funniest Screenplays as the hosts paid tribute to honorees in attendance Norman Steinberg (“My Favorite Year,” “Blazing Saddles”), Andrew Bergman (“Blazing Saddles”), Judd Apatow (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin”), John Patrick Shanley (“Moonstruck”) and Jim Taylor (“Election,” “Sideways”). 

The live reading was produced and directed by Wayne Federman and Christopher Rose (“Late Night Basement”).

For more information on the Writers Guild of America, West, visit www.wga.org. For more information on the Writers Guild of America, East, visit www.wgaeast.org.

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