The art of prank comedy, when done right, can be some of the most genuinely funny and enjoyable styles of humor media can provide. Viewing characters outsmart one another whether scripted for film or pranks just between actors can always be a treat, and in many cases, the more ridiculous the prank the better.
With the comedy genre adapting to more and more niche styles and subgenres as the years go on, the style of prank comedies has evolved beyond recognition. As times go on, more jokes get told, and with them more of a drive to take the punchline even further than those who came before, leaving us with some incredibly bizarre and shocking displays of pranks that are equal parts impressive and purposefully cringe-inducing . Though today, we look at a handful of the best comedy movies featuring pranks from throughout the years, and the maestros who helped redefine the genre.
5 Waiting …
A love letter to those in the food service industry, 2005’s Waiting … is hailed by many for being a brutally accurate portrayal of restaurant life, while having its own style of fun with the subject. Throughout the film, a newcomer to the “Shenaniganz” restaurant gets trained by Ryan Reynold’s Monty in the art of revenge against rude guests, and fraternity-like games played by the kitchen staff, all while doing very little work. The sabotaging of a particularly demeaning patron’s food by the entire staff remains a highlight for viewers who can relate to the mental and emotional strain of the dreaded world of customer service.
As far as pranks go, the cooks have you covered with their revealing “game” they play together that’s just as disgusting as it is hilarious. Managing to be a perfect summation of all aspects of serving food, Waiting … has no problem showing the less-than-savory parts of the job, all while embracing the raunchy, goofy nature of a good prank.
Arguably the most popular creation of character actor Sacha Baron Cohen, Boratas well as its sequel feature the exploits of a fictional reporter from Kazakhstan, Borat Sagdiyev, as he roams across America and learns of the culture. With Borat speaking broken English and misunderstanding many social cues, the reactions from those around him are what sell the movie best. Finding himself inciting riots at rodeos, failing driving exams, and attempting to be born again at a Christian church gathering, it seems everywhere Borat goes he brings mayhem in his wake.
The endearing misunderstood nature of Borat helps make the character less despicable, despite his otherwise antiquated worldview. The talented portrayal of the clueless reporter in otherwise humiliating public displays by Cohen is also to be commended. The whole thing being obviously set up, it’s the typical onlooker’s reaction to the strange foreign man they’ve come across that makes these pranks as lovable and memorable as they are, and has led them to become some of the most quotable moments in film history because of it.
3 Dirty Work
Starring the late and great SNL alumni and comedian Norm Macdonald and direct by Bob Saget, another greatly missed comedian and actor, Dirty Work tells the tale of a down-on-their-luck pair of losers (Norm Macdonald and Artie Lange) who use their talents for getting revenge on people as the basis for their new start-up company, “Dirty Work Inc.” Despite not winning over critics on release back in 1998, a groundswell of support for the film has emerged over the years for its goofy and over-the-top tone, due in large part to Macdonald’s irreplaceable charm.
The film features cameos from many great comedians, such as Chevy Chase and Don Rickles, all performing their roles with expert timing and delivery. With no shortage on great pranks all in the name of revenge, Dirty Work is definitely a must-see for comedy fans, and a worthwhile visit to pay tribute to both Macdonald and Saget’s respective comedic talents.
From the kings of prank comedy, the Jackass series has entertained lovers of ridiculous stunts and dangerous comedy for decades. Starting on MTV as a show for teenagers to laugh at and parents to roll their eyes to, a fourth film venture in the series has recently been released to surprisingly successful reviews. The crew behind Jackass seems to never run out of ideas on how to torture one another with painful stunts and challenges all in the name of making each other laugh.
Any viewer of MTV from the early to mid 2000s can wax nostalgic about their favorite moments from the crew’s shocking physical dares and pranks that were both disgusting and degenerate, but never missing out on being hilarious. There’s a simple part of our brains that enjoys watching people perform crazy dumb stunts and getting hurt while doing it, and thanks to Jackasswe’ll always have a front row seat to indulge that primal form of entertainment.
1 Bad Trip
Netflix’s original comedy starring absurdist comedian Eric Andre has become well known for its unique way of portraying its story and characters. All scenes are set up live with hidden cameras, with only the main cast being traditional actors, while the rest of those featured are all genuine people on the streets, unaware of the production going on. Bad Trip delivers the unique style of pranks seen on Andre’s weird talk showthough are now given set-ups and character-driven motivations allow them to progress the overall story while also being unbelievably funny.
With pranks ranging from simple and goofy to nearly life-threatening, a lot of effort went into production to make sure everything turned out just perfect. Andre often finds himself in a humiliating state for entertainment purposes, such as being obscenely drunk or breaking into a live unprompted song performance. Like Borat before it, the best parts of Bad Trip are always the onlooker’s reactions to the mayhem, this time with some even stepping in to either break up fake fights or be part of the action. Prank lovers can find themselves a new favorite in this hidden camera comedy, and just like with all entries on this list, may find themselves revisiting the laughs it supplies for years to come.
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