When Airplane! appeared on the scene, people acted as if they had never seen anything like it before, but of course they had. What the Zucker Brothers and Jim Abrahams created was a two-hour cinematic vaudeville act. Set-up, punchline. Set-up, punchline. Bah-dum boom. All that was missing was a drummer in every theater to deliver the rimshots.
This is a good thing, too. Movies hadn’t been this funny since the Marx Brothers were making Duck Soup, and haven’t really been this funny since. The only thing to come close to this level of shameless wall-to-wall laughs was Jim Abraham’s and the Zucker Brothers’ short-lived TV classic, Police Squad, which inspired the Naked Gun movies.