Comedy Genius


Comedy Genius is the BFI’s blockbuster season for 2018. The UK’s greatest ever celebration of film and TV comedy – bringing the gift of laughter just when we need it most!  The comedy geniuses of the big and small screen will be making us laugh at BFI Southbank and cinemas across the UK, online on BFI Player and with a wide range of UK partners.The season runs from October to December 2018.


Framed by a focus on on-screen performers, the season has been designed to be open and inclusive, with scope for FAN venues and members to come up with their own imaginative spin on central themes. We also encourage you to look at local talent and regional specificity when planning your own activity.

● Slapstick and Sight Gags: the Genius of Physical Comedy: from Chaplin, Keaton to Jacques Tati and Rowan Atkinson

● Rediscovering Mabel Normand: legendary star of the silent era, frequent collaborator with Chaplin and Fatty Arbuckle, and producer, writer, director and power behind over 100 films

● British Film & TV Comedy Geniuses: celebrating the full range of talents from the nations and regions, and the eccentricity, surrealism, social ineptitude and smut that help define the British comedy tradition: Ealing to Withnail, Carry On to Monty Python.

● Black Comedy pioneers: such as Trix Worrell’s Desmonds, the many, funny, faces of Donald Glover and madcap mavens from Moms Mabley to Whoopi Goldberg

● Poking fun at politics, puncturing pomposity: exploring the daring and political charge of Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator and Ernst Lubitsch’s To Be Or Not To Be, highlighting comedy’s part in writing history and political subversion and celebrating agents of Chaos: anarchists, maniacs and disruptive individuals from The Marx Brothers to Chris Morris

● Trailblazing Women: focusing attention on fiercely talented funny women who have changed the face of comedy from Lucille Ball to Issa Rae; Elaine May to Tina Fey; Jennifer Saunders to Michaela Coel; and celebrating he razor-sharp wit of screwball heroines of the 1930s and 40s like Katherine Hepburn, Carole Lombard and Barbara Stanwyck

● Wise-cracks: before Deadpool there was Eddie Murphy, Mae West and W C Fields

● Stoner Comedy & Cult Classics: Airplane! to Spinal Tap; Stir Crazy to House Party.

● World of Comedy: shedding light on less familiar international stars with a particular focus on European comedy


Major Programmes support is open to all FAN members who want to take part in the season. Click here to find out more.


The season is also supported by the Independent Cinema Office (ICO) who are offering a booking menu of related titles at negotiated rates.

If you book with the ICO they can offer:

  • subsidised MGs and specially reduced terms on certain titles
  • speakers available for venues who book more than one title
  • opportunities for extra support on marketing and audience development

Tour dates: 22 October 2018 until 31 January 2019

To book contact: or visit the BFI Comedy Genius Tour page on the ICO website.