Ironically, laugh tracks can be a bummer because they’re so cheesy and robotic. Whether it’s a genuine studio audience laughing after every joke or a pre-recorded track they play, laugh tracks can tarnish the integrity of even the funniest sitcoms. As a laugh track hater, I have compiled this list of the 24 funniest sitcoms that don’t need a track because you’ll be roaring with authentic, spontaneous laughter.
1. Community (2009-2014)
Community is one of the best sitcoms without a laugh track because the show has many meta moments that make funny of classic sitcom tropes. Since they love to poke fun at cheesy sitcom stuff, they would never use a laugh track, and they don’t need one. Between the excellent writing and hilarious performances, you’ll be chuckling all on your own.
2. Parks and Recreation (2009-2015)
Parks and Recreation, like The Office, uses a mockumentary style, and you can’t have a laugh track in a mockumentary! The awkward pauses following some of the jokes in the show only make them funnier, so this show’s humor would be truly tainted by the addition of a laugh track.
3. Silicon Valley (2014-2019)
Silicon Valley rides the line between a drama and a sitcom, as the show has a traceable plot, but you could also watch most of the episodes out of order. The show’s style is too mature and modern for a laugh track, and the nuanced but accessible humor is enough to make everyone laugh.
4. Veep (2012-2019)
The writing on Veep is so phenomenal, and a laugh track would be an insult to some of the fantastic jokes. Julia Louis Dreyfus and many of the other actors utilize quick, quippy line deliveries that are fast-paced and would but completely ruined by a pause for the laugh track.
5. Malcolm in the Middle (2000-2006)
Malcolm in the Middle is technically a show for kids, but I still watch it all the time, and the humor holds up so well. It’s somehow wholesome and edgy at the same time, with diverse and rib-tickling jokes. The jokes come so fast; a laugh track would only slow down the fun.
6. Modern Family (2009)
Modern Family is another brilliant sitcom that needs no laugh track. Similar to Parks and Recreation, the awkward, uncomfortable pauses that come after the jokes are inherent to the humor. Sometimes, the biggest laughs come after the longest silences in this show, which a laugh track would destroy.
7. The Middle (2009-2018)
The Middle is one of the funniest and most underrated comedies. It follows a middle-class, midwestern family trying to get by and love one another. The sitcom has a similar vibe to Malcolm in the Middle without being a rip-off, delivering the same wholesome humor.
8. Arrested Development (2003-2019)
Arrested Development can be raunchy and rye at times, so a laugh track simply would not fit into the comedy style of the show. Again, this show uses awkward moments and uncomfortable pauses to drive the jokes home, so a laugh track would get in the way of this, and the dry moments would be as hilarious.
9. 30 Rock (2006-2013)
If you’ve never seen 30 Rock, this is your sign to do so. Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin are comedy gold together, and the show takes place in the NBC studio building. The show has a meta quality because it’s about making TV, so it would be strange for them to use a laugh track, and it isn’t necessary anyway.
10. Scrubs (2001-2010)
Although I love Scrubs and have seen it a few times, I had to double-check that it didn’t have a laugh track. It seems like the kind of goofy and cliche humor that would use a laugh track, but they don’t! I’m actually impressed they had the confidence to ditch the track and rely on the writing and performances, which are both enjoyable.
11. Schitt’s Creek (2015-2020)
Schitt’s Creek, although it ended pretty recently, has the lovable quality of classic sitcoms like Friends and Will & Grace. However, both of those shows have laugh tracks, while Schitt’s Creek delivers wildly funny jokes minus the recorded giggles. I'm not saying the worst sitcoms use laugh tracks, but ones like Schitt's Creek that don't use them are often better.
12. Brooklyn 99 (2013-2021)
Brooklyn 99 has the cheesy quality of Scrubs that usually comes along with a laugh track, but this one doesn’t! Most modern sitcoms don’t use laugh tracks, but some still do, so it’s commendable that B99 chose not to include this cliche and cringeworthy element in their show.
13. Fleabag (2016-2019)
I adore Fleabag because it has the classic British humor that is all about making people uncomfortable and joking around about repression. When watching this show, I swing between cracking up and cringing at the main character’s behavior. With all the drama and humor, a laugh track would just get in the way.
14. Peep Show (2003-2015)
Another lovable but uncomfortable British sitcom, Peep Show is an offbeat comedy about two roommates who don’t always get along. It’s unique because it’s filmed in the first perspective at all times, so the characters stare directly at and talk straight to the camera, which is funny and weird in its own right.
15. Superstore (2015-2021)
Superstore also relies on uncomfortable pauses and moments of silence for many of the jokes to land. Frankly, I expected this show to use a laugh track, but it takes a more modern approach to this type of workplace comedy. The characters’ facial expressions, along with the top-notch writing, are enough to have you laughing all night.
16. New Girl (2011-2018)
New Girl is a quirky sitcom about a romantic but naive girl looking for love. She moves in with three guys after a bad breakup, and they all help each other navigate love and life. It seems like it would have a laugh track, but the humor and wonderful performances stand on their own.
17. Reno 911 (2003-)
Did you know Reno 911 was still on the air? It has been going for over 20 seasons with no signs of stopping, and they’ve never used a laugh track. The show’s humor is brilliantly poignant, even as time goes on, so there is always something new to laugh at.
18. Letterkenny (2016-)
Letterkenny is another show with new seasons still coming out, so this is the perfect time to get into it. It’s about a small, woodsy town in Canada and the many shenanigans the residents get up to. The humor can be very dry and slow, but in the best way possible. This sitcom is perfect for anyone who loves this type of rural, small-town humor.
19. Workaholics (2011-2017)
This show is about three roommates, friends, and coworkers who do almost everything together. They’re dumb, irresponsible, and immature, but they are wildly hilarious and will have you cracking up during every episode. If you love to watch lovable idiots go off the rails, this show is for you.
20. Broad City (2014-2019)
Easily one of my favorite sitcoms, Broad City is a creative and playful show about two best friends living in NYC. Abbi and Ilana are two of the funniest and most relatable characters, and their humor is sensational without being too obvious or obnoxious. I love every single episode, and it simply wouldn’t be as good with a lame laugh track.
21. Party Down (2009-)
I love talking about Party Down right now because they’re planning on releasing a new season soon after being wrongfully canceled years ago. The show stars Adam Scott and follows a small catering company with an array of quirky and weird employees. The humor in the show is very authentic and innovative and would be tarnished by a laugh track.
22. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015-2020)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a whimsical and playful series about a young woman who was rescued from an underground cult and now has to live on her own. Kimmy is played by Ellie Kemper, and the character has an adorable and innocent outlook on life that will warm your heart but also make you want to grab her and tell her to be safe.
23. The League (2009-2015)
Another wonderful sitcom if you want to watch idiots be idiots, The League follows a group of longtime friends who play fantasy football together. All the main characters are adult babies who care more about football than their jobs, making it hilarious to watch. As I write this, I’ve decided it’s time for a rewatch.
24. Raising Hope (2010-2014)
Raising Hope is another criminally underrated comedy that I think everyone should watch. It’s about a young guy who gets a serial pregnant right before she is caught and sent to prison. When the baby is born, it’s time for him to step up and be a dad with the help of his deranged but lovable family, leading to lots of authentic laughs.