2020 might not have been the happiest of years, but there were at least loads of hilarious movies and TV shows.
There wasn’t a huge amount to laugh about in real life in 2020, but luckily some very funny movies and TV shows provided light relief from the misery of a world struck down by a deadly pandemic. And comedy was one genre affected far less by the closure of movie theaters, with a steady stream of funny content hitting networks and streaming platforms throughout the year.
In terms of TV, there were some returning favorites as well as brand new series. The much loved Schitt’s Creek returned for its final season, Rick and Morty wrapped up Season 4, and What We Do In Shadows delivered its amazing second batch of episodes. Great new shows include Upload, Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, Dave, and Ted Lasso, all of which are likely to be with us for many more years.
Despite the upheaval to cinema generally, it was one of the strongest years for comedy movies for a while. After all the controversy about Sonic’s design, the live-action Sonic the Hedgehog film surprised almost everyone by being genuinely very funny and entertaining. New movies from comedy veterans Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen counted among their best work, and after nearly 30 years, those much-loved, now middle-aged, metalheads Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted “Theodore” Logan returned for Bill and Ted Face the Music.So here’s GameSpot’s choices for the best comedy TV and movies of the year. And if you want more retrospective reading, check out the of the year, , and the in 2020. And for a look into the future, check out our lists for the , , , and to look forward to in 2021.
Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet
Obviously, this is GameSpot, so a TV show about game devs is going to be on our radar. However, that bias aside, Mythic Quest turned out to be a great and hilarious show. Created by some of the same writers of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia–Charlie Day, Megan Ganz, and Rob McElhenney–the series follows a successful developer as they push out a new update for their MMORPG. With some assistance in development of the Mythic Quest game footage and production from Ubisoft, the series delved into all aspects of game development and what devs have to deal with, including Twitch streamers, toxic players, and the economics of microtransactions. While all the characters featured on the show–a couple of whom are portrayed by actors Always Sunny–have their flaws, the ensemble cast balances itself perfectly as the series is incredibly well-written. It was the light-hearted romp we all desperately needed in 2020. – Mat Elfring
The King of Staten Island
Directed by Judd Apatow and based heavily on star/co-writer Pete Davidson’s life, The King of Staten Island sees Apatow tone down the broader comedic tendencies he showed in movies such as Knocked Up and Trainwreck. The results are still extremely funny, but the equal emphasis on drama means it delivers an emotional impact too. Davidson plays Scott, a listless 24-year-old who has never fully recovered from the death of his fireman dad when he was 7, and spends most of his days getting stoned with friends. But when his sister leaves for college and his mom meets another man, his life starts to unravel.
Like all Apatow movies, The King of Staten Island is a long film, clocking in at over 130 minutes. But while some of his earlier movies felt padded, this time it allows time for Apatow and Davidson to explore all the characters and their situations. There are great supporting performances from the likes of Marisa Tomei, Bill Burr, and Steve Buscemi, and Davidson proves himself to be an adept dramatic actor as well as a razor-sharp comedian. – Dan Auty
A fictionalized version of the story of David Burd, AKA Lil Dicky, a real-life joke rapper with songs like “Professional Rapper” (which is honestly very good), seems like not a great idea on paper. But FX’s comedy Dave managed to be one of the most delightful shows of the year, even if Dave talks about his gross dick way too much. Naturally, there were ups and downs for Dave, who believes he’s the greatest rapper of all time despite any evidence of that. But the prison saga in the finale was worth the price of admission alone, and this show gets real points for its thoughtful treatment of complex supporting characters like GaTa and Elliot. Keep it up, Dave, you’ll get there someday. – Mike Rougeau
The final season of Schitt’s Creek wasn’t the show’s best, but it was no slouch. It wrapped up the stories of the members of the Rose family, showing how much they’d all grown during their time in the small town of Schitt’s Creek, as seemingly everybody got the happy ending they deserved. What lands this show on the best comedies list isn’t its final season, though. Instead, it’s the fact that 2020 was the year so many people found Schitt’s Creek–whether on its home network of Pop, syndication on Comedy Central, or through streaming on Netflix. The show’s popularity skyrocketed this year, and it was capped off by sweeping the comedy awards at the 2020 Emmys, something that had never been done before, earning seven trophies to end its run. – Chris E. Hayner
Originally a DC Universe original animated series, before HBO Max picked it up, Harley Quinn is an adults-only series following none other than Harley Quinn herself. After dumping the Joker, Quinn sets to make a life for herself as a villain–and yes, this show does have the same relative plot as Birds of Prey, but hey, this show came out first. The second season deals with Poison Ivy’s upcoming marriage to Kite Man, while Harley battles other Batman villains and connects once again with the Clown Prince of Crime. While I’m not a Harley Quinn character fan per say, this show is impossible to deny. It’s incredibly witty and some of the funniest writing on TV. It feels a bit like Venture Bros. with DC characters. In a year filled with isolation and depression, Harley Quinn was the perfect medicine for the blues. – Mat Elfring
The Amazon Prime Video original series from The Office creator Greg Daniels was an absurdly funny twist on a futuristic dystopian society. When you die, you don’t really go away. Instead, you’re uploaded into a virtual afterlife which, depending on how rich you are, could be very nice. Then again, it could be terrible with data caps, drab surroundings, and far too many pop-up ads. It’s as much of a nightmare as one could expect living in the internet to be, but somehow Upload finds a way to make it an endearing tale of a man finding himself in the afterlife and learning that what he thought was a perfect life was a lie, a realization that sends ripples through both the world he used to inhabit and his digital afterlife. – Chris E. Hayner
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Unsurprisingly, Borat 2 is an absurdly timely movie, taking the piss out of Trump and his cohorts, as well as various other conservative figures ridiculous beliefs about things like the Clintons drinking children’s blood. But what is surprising is the fact that Borat 2 is pretty damn funny. If you liked the original Borat when it became a phenomenon almost 15 years ago, but are pretty sure it wouldn’t hold up to modern standards of political correctness and general decency–and rightly so–you might have been pleasantly surprised by Borat 2’s timeliness, focus, and more wholesome sensibilities. – Mike Rougeau
Sonic the Hedgehog
This year may have been one giant bummer, but it did provide some pleasant surprises on the big screen (back in the early months when those were still a thing). Case in point: Sonic the Hedgehog, which was way, way better than it had any right to be. In the title role, Ben Schwartz brought the energy and attitude Sonic needs. But it wasn’t all just speed gags and meta jokes; the movie’s heart came from a solidly funny story about friendship and family. Add in reluctant accomplice Officer James Marsden and a literally mustache-twirling Dr. Robotnik featuring Jim Carrey at his most Jim Carrey, and you have one of the best family movies of the year–not to mention one of the most enjoyable game adaptations ever. – Mike Rougeau
An American Pickle
Seth Rogen’s comedy about a man who falls into a vat of pickle brine and wakes up perfectly preserved 100 years later was one of the funniest surprises this year. It’s an inherently stupid concept, which the movie fully acknowledges when Herschel Greenbaum (Rogen) remarks in heavily accented voiceover that “the scientist explains, his logic is good, it satisfies everyone.” Having awakened in present day NYC, Herschel meets his great grandson Ben Greenbaum (also Rogen). That setup makes it sound like you’ll have heard every joke in the movie 100 times before, but Pickle goes to some delightfully unique places to find both humor and heart. And it’s streaming on HBO Max, which, let’s be honest, anyway. – Mike Rougeau
What We Do in the Shadows Season 2
What We Do in the Shadows was already one of the funniest shows on TV back with its first season, but somehow Season 2 only improved on the formula. Vampire roommates Nadja, Laszlo, Nandor the Relentless, and Collin Robinson–plus Nandor’s human familiar Guillermo–are absurdist comedy at its finest, blending and endless, revolving door of insane cameos from A-list celebrities with mile-a-minute slapstick gags that position the vampires in all sorts of wacky scenarios ranging from the mundane to the deeply supernatural. Struggling to find sinkholes made by decomposing bodies in the yard? Check. Warring against corporate monotony (as an energy vampire) and somehow winding up working up the bureaucratic ladder despite yourself? Check. And of course–this season’s stand out: the debut of Jackie Daytona, a regular human bartender. You just can’t get any better. – Mason Downey
On paper, Ted Lasso sounds like just one more situational sports-adjacent comedy. Jason Sudeikis plays a great straight man, but he doesn’t inspire confidence as a lead. All those assumptions prove unfounded, though, as you dive into the ultra-positive, earnest, and upbeat world of Ted Lasso, a mustachioed, drawling American football coach who moves to England to coach UK football, an act of subtle sabotage that Ted gradually but fully subverts through sheer likability. The show is rarely saccharine, though; Ted is a guy who always does his best, even while the world around him completely sucks. He inspires the people around him to want to do their best, too. And he doesn’t always succeed, but you’ll find yourself rooting for him either way. This was the exact show we needed in 2020. – Mike Rougeau
Bill and Ted Face the Music
It was a long road to get a third Bill and Ted movie made. Over more than a decade, the writers and stars of the first two movies worked to make it a reality, then in 2020 it finally happened–albeit with a largely digital release, due to the pandemic. Nevertheless, more than 30 years after the first film hit theaters, was there still magic in the story of Bill S. Preston, Esq. (Alex Winter) and Ted “Theodore” Logan (Keanu Reeves)? The answer was a resounding yes, as the film found a now-adult Bill and Ted still unable to write the song that would save the world. Facing their own failed potential, they try one last time to unite all of reality in a movie filled with hope, joy, laughs, and a look to the future–their own children. What makes Bill & Ted Face the Music so special is that it’s a generational story, as the Wyld Stallyns realize–and embrace– the reality that their time in the spotlight has passed. Now it’s up to their daughters. What a fitting end to their journey, as they look to the next generation of Bill and Ted to keep the music going. – Chris E. Hayner
Rick and Morty Season 4
Rick and Morty Season 4 had a strange cadence, releasing half in 2019 and half this year. Uneven as the season was as a whole, the latter provided some of our favorite Rick and Morty episodes yet. The Story Train in “Never Ricking Morty” took meta to a new level, while “The Vat of Acid Episode” provided one of the funniest and most hard-earned pay-offs in the show’s history. Plus, we got the long-awaited return of Tammy and Phoenixperson in the finale. What more could you want? – Mike Rougeau
Andy Samberg was once known for rapping about his private parts and mugging for the camera, but he’s slowly become one of the most entertaining and underrated actors in Hollywood. Nowhere is that more apparent than 2020’s Palm Springs, a movie we’re afraid to even describe lest we spoil the twist. Samberg takes an inherently silly concept and, with help from co-star Cristin Milioti, turns it into a smart, funny, and touching metaphysical love story. – Eric Frederiksen
Love and Monsters
There’s a specific horror-comedy formula that was made popular by movies like Zombieland where a plucky protagonist survives an apocalypse and helpfully breaks the fourth wall to narrate their experience to the audience–it’s not exactly the most groundbreaking take on the genre, but it’s certainly a charming one, which is why this year’s Love and Monsters works so well. In a world where humanity was driven mostly underground or into various other bunker-style survival camps because the surface world was taken over by giant mutated monsters, Dylan O’Brien plays Joel Dawson, a 20-something who’s handling the new world pretty well, all things considered. Except for the fact he’s the only person in his little survival group that is sorely lacking a significant other. He sets out on a quest to brave the surface land in search of his high school sweetheart who he’s only had brief contact with on the radio since everything went to hell and, along the way, learns some valuable lessons about both love and monsters. Also don’t worry, the dog doesn’t get hurt. – Mason Downey