BoJack Horseman Season 1 Jokes Per Minute

Our JPM studies for BoJack Horseman Season 1 lead to some surprising conclusions

I need to be honest. I did not expect BoJack Horseman season 1 to have a high Jokes Per Minute (JPM).

BoJack is one of the best shows on television full-stop and while it’s technically a comedy, it also has a well-earned reputation for diving into the dark, all-encompassing loneliness and frustration of being alive better than any show save for maybe Mad Men. That does not exactly sound like a JPM honeypot. 

But wouldn’t you know it, BoJack achieves an absurdly high JPM anyway. It’s 7.79 is the highest we’ve recorded save for Rick and Morty season 3 (so far). What can we learn from this? Well BoJack has many factors in its favor. One thing we’re finding in our JPM studies is that animated comedies have a much higher potential for JPM than even the best live-action comedies. 

The potential to completely control the environment in an animated comedy creates the opportunity for so much more visual humor that live-action just can’t possibly hope to keep up. In fact, we’ve added a new wrinkle to our JPM studies for BoJack season one in which we will be identifying each episode’s best visual joke in addition to its best verbal or dialogue-based joke. 

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The other thing we learned, however, is that these JPM studies – however fun they may be for us – are hopelessly ineffectual in determining what the funniest or best shows on television are. You may notice as you scroll through these entries that BoJack Horseman season 1’s JPM steadily trends downward as the season goes along. Those with any memory of BoJack Horseman season 1 whatsoever may also remember that the season undoubtedly gets better as it goes along. Season 1 gets off to a tremendously slow start, entertainment-wise that no amount of jokes per minute can rescue. 

Still, it’s a testament to a show that it’s able to pull off such a high JPM overall while being one of the most depressing, trenchantly human shows on television.

Episode 1: BoJack Horseman: The BoJack Horseman Story, Chapter One

Running Time: 25:19

Total Number of Jokes: 203

JPM: 8.06

Best Dialogue Joke: “What…everyone gets a Mulligan. My Mulligan was Carey Mulligan. Just kidding – it was Emily Mortimer.” – BoJack

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Best Visual Joke:

 

Season 1 gets off to a stronger start than I remembered. This is probably due to how novel the show’s universe is. Creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg and friends clearly have a lot of fun melding the human universe with the animal. Refer to our best visual gag of the hospital BoJack ends up in being called “St. Elmer’s Medical Center.” 

 

Episode 2: BoJack Hates the Troops

Running Time: 25:21

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Total Number of Jokes: 205

JPM: 8.13

Best Dialogue Joke: “To me there is nothing funny about stealing a meal from Neal McBeal, the Navy Seal.” – Tom JumboGrumbo

Best Visual Joke: 

Here’s a good example of where JPM tends to fall short. This is perhaps the worst episode of season 1. It’s not awful – mind you – it just doesn’t fully achieve the melancholy tone that the rest of the series would eventually nail. And the jokes, while numerous, also seem like they belong to a different, hackier show. Still the JPM for “BoJack Hates the Troops” still comes in at a very high 8.13. That’s good for third highest of the season! The MSNBSea gag is pretty incredible though. 

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Episode 3: Prickly-Muffin

Running Time: 25:44

Total Number of Jokes: 222

JPM: 8.73

Best Dialogue Joke: “Andrew Garfield hates Mondays AND loves lasagna?” – Todd

Best Visual Joke: 

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“Prickly-Muffin” is your highest JPM episode of BoJack Horseman season 1. Why exactly? I couldn’t really tell you. Nothing really stands out about the episode in terms of concept or interesting tone. It just happens to be packed wall to wall with jokes. The presence of Sarah Lynn helps out tremendously – particularly her new catchphrase of “suck a dick, dumbshits!”

Episode 4: Zoes and Zeldas

Running Time: 25:25

Total Number of Jokes: 183

JPM: 7.25

Best Dialogue Joke: “Fool me once shame on you but teach a man to fool me and he’ll have fish for the rest of his life.” – Van Cleef

Best Visual Joke: 

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“Zoes and Zeldas” is the first episode of BoJack Horseman that truly hints at the greatness to come. This episode is positively filled with easter eggs for BoJack fans from the future. For instance, BoJack jokes to his friend Herb Kazazz “get cancer, jerkwad.” Of course Herb will end up getting cancer later on in his life. We also get to see the lower half of Todd’s high school girlfriend’s face in a flashback. She will be introduced in full two seasons later! The episode’s title as well “Zoes and Zeldas” also sets up a recurring joke for the rest of the season. 

Episode 5: Live Fast, Diane Nguyen

Running Time: 25:18

Total Number of Jokes: 210

JPM: 8.34

Best Dialogue Joke: “Boys, you have stolen my heart like Dave Roberts stole secondbase.” – BoJack.

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Best Visual Joke:

Now THIS is what I’m talking about. “Live Fast, Diane Nguyen” has the second highest JPM of the season and in hindsight I’m surprised it doesn’t have the highest. This is in my estimation the first perfect BoJack Horseman episode. It’s completely, unreservedly hilarious. Diane’s Vietnamese-American family being populated entirely by Paul F. Tompkins doing a Masshole accent is just the stuff of comedic dreams. And if that weren’t enough, the episode establishes the uneasy, awkward home life that Diane experienced. Anytime throughout the rest of the series, if you wonder how BoJack and Diane remain friends just remember this episode and how similar their childhood upbringing and shared pain must be.

 

Episode 6: Our A-Story is a “D” Story

Running Time: 25:37

Total Number of Jokes: 205

JPM: 8.08

Best Dialogue Joke: “I agree with the Latin Kings on social issues but fiscally I’m more Aryan.” – Todd.

Best Visual Joke:

At the near-halfway point of season 1, BoJack Horseman is really rolling. “Zoes and Zeldas” established that BoJack Horseman is a show that cares about continuity and will be drawing much of its humor from recurring jokes and then “Our A-Story is a ‘D’ Story” really hammers it home. BoJack steals the “D” from the Hollywood sign and from that moment on Hollywood in now forever Hollywoo in BoJack Horseman lore. This episode really highlights the advantages that animated storytelling has in achieving high JPMs. There are about 7 funny airport signs within the first 5 seconds of the episode. 

 

Episode 7: Say Anything

Running Time: 25:37

Total Number of Jokes: 191

JPM: 7.53

Best Dialogue Joke: “Ohhhhhh God am I blowing thiiiissssssss?” – Charlie

Best Visual Joke:

The final minutes of “Say Anything” are a fine example of the kind of tragicomedy BoJack Horseman excels at. Princess Carolyn goes through hell in this episode. Her agency merges with another, putting her job on the line. Instead of focusing on keeping her job she risks it all for one last tryst with BoJack. Of course, it all turns to shit with BoJack finally realizing that he’s just being self-destructive and Carolyn saves her job by a whisker. She thens resigns herself to staying at work until the late hours of the night. The episode ends with her phone vibrating and wishing her a “happy birthday!” message. That’s both equally tragic and somehow darkly hilarious. “Say Anything” also sees the introduction of working class hero Charley Witherspoon! The mere presence of Charley is good enough to be the best dialogue joke AND visual joke for the episode. 

 

Episode 8: The Telescope

Running Time: 25:41

Total Number of Jokes: 184

JPM: 7.24

Best Dialogue Joke: “And that’s Ubu! The guy who sits,” Charlotte.

Best Visual Joke:

There are some stellar visual jokes in “The Telescope.” There are two full comic-book style “splash pages” of hilariously exaggerated versions of the ‘80s and the ‘90s in BoJack flashbacks. Thank God for them too or “The Telescope’s” already low (for this show anyway) JPM would be miniscule. This is a dark episode of BoJack Horseman and is just the latest indication that this is a show that does not fuck around. All BoJack wants is to be forgiven for his past behavior by his friend Herb Kazazz. But even on his deathbed, Herb will not grant him clemency. Because he doesn’t deserve it. I can’t believe this is the same episode that features a remarkable “Sit, Ubu, sit,” joke. Shout out to Princess Carolyn’s “Rachel” hairstyle in the ‘90s too.

Episode 9: Horse Majeure

Running Time: 25:54

Total Number of Jokes: 207

JPM: 8.10

Best Dialogue Joke: “We make a great pair. I’m like Miss Daisy and you’re like Minnie Driver.” – Mr. Peanutbutter

Best Visual Joke:

Two episodes ago we got the introduction to folk hero Charley Witherspoon. Now we get the introduction of the even more impactful Vincent Adultman! Vincent Adultman is just a comedy treasure. It’s funny that he’s clearly three kids in a trench coat. It’s even funnier that BoJack is the only person to realize it. This is also the first episode that recognizes the comedic potential of Todd and Mr. Peanutbutter’s teams up. It’s no surprise then that this is the only episode in the back half of the season to feature a JPM above 8. 

Episode 10: One Tick Pony

Running Time: 25:38

Total Number of Jokes: 194

JPM: 7.64

Best Dialogue Joke: “When I was little I dreamt about getting a MacArthur grant for my zine about how all the girls at school were bitches.” – Diane.

Best Visual Joke:

“One Trick Pony” reveals how much BoJack Horseman benefits from its Hollywood setting. BoJack falling in “love” with an actress playing Diane in a movie would be interesting and funny regardless but it’s even funnier when that actress is Naomi Watts for some reason. It also leads to the wonderful line “Naomi Waaaaaaaaaaat!” This is actually an unusually verbal episode of BoJack Horseman. Not a ton of visual humor to be found. That might explain the lowered JPM. Thankfully it also leads to even more wonderful lines like “I’m sick of this dog and pony show.” BoJack says this referring to the television show he, a horse, is producing with Mr. Peanutbutter, a dog.

Episode 11: Downer Ending

Running Time: 25:21

Total Number of Jokes: 184

JPM: 7.30

Best Dialogue Joke: “Just to be clear – we’re shooting each other to determine whether we’re shooting guns or brooms, right?” – BoJack

Best Visual Joke:

As we’ve seen in Rick and Morty season 3, episode 5, nothing is a bigger boon to JPM than an extended hallucinatory joke sequence. Over half of “Downer Ending” is devoted to an extended drug trip that BoJack, Todd and Sarah Lynn embark on and yet the JPM still can’t crack 7.50 (again that would be high for any other live-action show but t remains low for BoJack season 1). That’s a testament to how serious BoJack Horseman is taking its storytelling here in the twilight of season 1. Yes, a lot of that hallucination includes jokes but a big chunk of it is a truly heartbreaking vision of what BoJack wants his idealized life to look like – followed by a massive depression upon realizing it can never be. 

Episode 12: Later

Running Time: 25:47

Total Number of Jokes: 179

JPM: 7.03

Best Dialogue Joke: “I went to the stock market today. I did a business.” – Vincent Adultman

Best Visual Joke: 

Hey Vincent Adultman’s back! Anytime he appears, he’s a virtual shoe-in for a best joke spot and this time around it’s perhaps my favorite joke in all of BoJack Horseman. Or at the very least the one I use in my day-to-day life most often. We’re all just adults going to stock markets and doing a business. It’s fitting that the final episode of season 1 has the lowest JPM as this show has more than established that it’s much more than a series of jokes to throw at the wall. Granted, it has more than enough jokes but by the end of this season it’s safe to say that BoJack Horseman is one of televisions’ best shows.

BoJack Horseman Season 1 JPM Episode Average: 7.79

Check out our other Jokes Per Minute studies here.

All-Time Jokes Per Minute Records: 

BoJack Horseman Season 1 – 7.79

Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later – 6.28

Angie Tribeca season 1 – 6.17

Rick and Morty season 2 – 5.96

Rick and Morty season 1 – 5.40

Veep season 4 – 4.28

Individual Episode Studies: 

The Simpsons season 4 episode 12: “Marge vs. The Monorail” – 7.14

Happy Endings season 2 episode 15: “The Butterfly Effect Effect” – 6.99

30 Rock season 1 episode 7: “Tracy Does Conan” – 6.15

Seinfeld season 4 episode 11: “The Contest” – 5.33

Arrested Development season 2 episode 4: “Good Grief” – 6.62

Highest JPM Episode:

Rick and Morty season 3: “The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy” – 10.35