Best Humorous Stage Musicals
Funny Musicals on the Broadway Stage
We go to the theater for a myriad of reasons: to be entertained, to be uplifted, to be moved. But sometimes we just want to spend a few hours laughing.
Musical theater is a perfect venue for comedy--because you already must suspend your disbelief for a while to enjoy the show (are these people really singing about everything they see and feel?), you easily accept the absurd, especially humor.
Humorous musicals can also be smart and clever, however--it's not all about slapstick and jokes. Read on for the best humorous stage musicals.
Avenue Q Trailer
Avenue Q is one of the most unique (and funniest) musicals to hit the stage in recent years. It's a puppet musical and--to the dismay of many parents who took their children before they figured it out--it is NOT for children. Its songs, themes, and characters are very adult. They're also hilarious.
The musical, which employs both live and puppet actors, focuses on a group of friends living on Avenue Q in New York City. Among them are Princeton, a recent college graduate who needs to figure out his life; Kate Monster an assistant teacher who dreams of becoming the real thing and finding her true love; and Rod and Nicky, roommates who are a reprise of the Odd Couple with their own quirks.
The songs poke fun at current events, sex, growing up, marriage, porn, and romance, among other things. Part of the fun is the shock value of seeing raunch come out of the mouth of a puppet, but the songs are also clever and witty, hitting uncomfortable truths with humor.
A Scene from The Full Monty
The Full Monty
The Full Monty is a stage adaptation of the 1997 film, moving the setting to Buffalo but keeping the main characters as unemployed steel workers. The musical is also less serious than the film, stripping out (no pun intended) some of the darker themes.
After the men see their wives having a good time in a male strip club, they decide to raise money the same way--but to take it one step further and go "the full monty" by taking it all off.
As the men practice their act, their insecurities about their bodies, relationships, and lives in general creep up and they work them out together.
The Full Monty's humor is based in seeing the men battle what women go through in regard to judgment of their own bodies and relationships--it also gets some mileage out of buddy relationships and marriage. It's a light-hearted, funny romp.
A Clip from The Full Monty
The Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon is another musical that depends on shock value to provoke laughter, and that technique comes as no surprise when you know that its creators also created South Park.
The musical is a religious satire centering around the mission of two Mormons who travel to Africa to spread God's word--one is smug and handsome (Price), the other is just a mess (Cunningham). The villagers, however, have no interest in religion and the mission seems doomed--until Cunningham makes up his own story of the origins of Mormonism and the villagers are enthralled, all willing to convert.
The Book of Mormon, while a lot of its laughs come from the audience's disbeliefs that a character is actually saying that on stage, is also a clever lampoon of religion blended with the inherent humor in two very different personalities trying to co-exist.
A Scene from Little Shop of Horrors
Little Shop of Horrors
If you're looking for a humorous musical that's also appropriate to watch with children (unlike the others on this list), Little Shop of Horrors can make both the adult and child set laugh.
The premise? Seymour, who works for a florist, lives on skid row and is for lack of a better term a loser--though he's also sweet and in love with his co-worker, Audrey. After a strange eclipse, a very odd plant appears in the shop--and the plant has a very particular craving for human flesh. It turns out the plant can speak and woos Seymour by telling him that if Seymour feeds the plant what it needs, all of Seymour's dreams will come true. That's not exactly what happens in the end, of course, and soon Seymour is in way over his head.
While the jokes that make adults laugh will likely go over children's heads, kids will enjoy the energetic music, the singing plant, and other aspects (though very young children may find it scary). The humor in the musical comes both from the absurdity of the plot and from the character's personalities, as well as the obvious throwback references to the 1950s.
Other Funny Musicals
If you like the musicals on this list, there are plenty of other humorous musicals out there, from the heyday of the musical in the 1940s and 1940s to present day. You may also enjoy:
- Kiss Me, Kate
- A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
- The Producers
- The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
What's your favorite funny stage musical?