As the late comedian George Carlin once observed, the classroom is home to some of the purest comedy on earth. Why? To anyone who ever giggled at a double entendre during English, or tried to suppress themselves after a peer’s robust belch, the answer is obvious: “No one’s allowed to laugh.” And, as generations of comics have shown us, there’s nothing funnier than breaking the rules.
This September, we’ll celebrate the start of the school year with a batch of films in which some of the last century’s funniest people find themselves in the hallowed halls of academia. Rodney Dangerfield gets the respect he deserves by going Back to School, while Laurel & Hardy struggle for the same while studying abroad in A Chump at Oxford. Roddy McDowall and Tuesday Weld rock ’n’ roll their high school in George Axelrod’s anarchy-fueled cult classic Lord Love a Duck, and, to top it all off, John Belushi leads the slobs against the snobs in the film that changed the face of modern comedy, Animal House. Class is now in session, so take your seats — and NO TALKING!
Lisa Kribs-LaPierre is the former Manager of Online Engagement at the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.