We’re on a mission. And that mission is to leave no joke behind.
It started with counting every joke in season four of one of TV’s best live-action comedies: Veep. Then we moved on to almost unquestionably TV’s best animated comedy* by calculating the jokes per minute in season one of Rick and Morty.
*I understand the “Best Animated TV Comedy” category is LOADED and humor is subjective but come on: one day scientists will be able to prove that comedy isn’t subjective and Rick and Morty is as perfect and beautiful as the Fibonacci Spiral
As it turns out, one season isn’t enough for us. Rick and Morty began its already-great second season on July 26th and we want to be there to calculate every Rick belch and Morty stutter. It might be too late to calculate the JPM for every episode of every TV comedy classic but let’s not Rick and Morty go unexamined.
Season one of Rick and Morty ended with a total JPM (Jokes Per Minute) count of 5.40. And now we will calculate the JPM for each episode of season two, week by week, culminating with the season’s final JPM. Check back here every week to see how packed with jokes season two of Rick and Morty really is.
Episode 1: A Rickle in Time
Running Time: 22:45
Total Number of Jokes: 143
Best joke: “Let me out. If I die in a cage, I lose a bet.” – Rick Sanchez
Wow, talk about presenting a challenge right out of the gate. “A Rickle in Time” is not only hilarious, but also creates a challenge for joke-counting like only Rick and Morty can. How exactly do you count the jokes in an episode that routinely splits time into two split screens and sometimes as many as 64 screens? Well, we decided not multiply every joke by 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 or 64 every time the timeline split. That would have been rick-dickulous.
Based on the episode’s final JPM, however, you could be forgiven for thinking that we did. “A Rickle in Time’s” final JPM is an absurd 6.37. That would be second only to season one’s “Rixty Minutes” of all Rick and Morty. We wouldn’t necessarily conclude that “A Rickle in Time” is the second best Rick and Morty episode but it does show that Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon are as confident, experimental and quick as ever with their show.
Episode 2: Mortynight Run
Running Time: 22:43
Total Number of Jokes: 131
Best Joke: “The factory tint setting is always too high!” – Jerry Smith
Adult Swim must be pretty satisfied with its new modest hit, as it’s clear Rick and Morty’s animation budget got a bump from season one. The first two episodes of this season have not only been ambitious (which is really expected for this show), but also legitimately action-packed.
That can make it a little hard to identify what is and isn’t a joke when everything is in motion. For the most part we’ve considered the two extended action sequences from Krombopulos Michael and Rick and Morty’s escapes to be jokeless affairs. But “Mortynight Run” more than makes up for it with two whacky and visual-joke packed psychedelic song sequences. Who would have expected that an episode in which an Andy Daly-played character perishes so soon would still have such a respectable JPM?
Episode 3: Auto Erotic Assimilation
Running Time: 22:54
Total Number of Jokes: 120
Best Joke: “If I wanted to be sober, I wouldn’t have gotten drunk.” – Unity
Really, the best joke in episode three may be its title. This is a typically hilarious and creative episode of Rick and Morty. It also comes with added elements of melancholy and introspection. That makes in a better episode of television but also keeps its JPM from hitting the above “6.0” heights of the first two episodes.
And that’s fine. Even if the episode had a JPM of .09 and those two jokes were two alien species with different shaped nipples starting a race war and the brilliant Community homage, it would still be a hilarious half-hour of TV.
Episode 4: Total Rickall
Running Time: 21:50
Total Number of Jokes: 150
Best Joke: “I’m on the wrong side of the pitchfork on this one.” – Frankenstein’s Monster
Oh man. This is it. This is the real deal. The pure, uncut, Colombian Rick and Morty. Forget JPM for a moment – “Total Rickall” is immediately one of the best episodes of Rick and Morty’s one and a half-season run by any metric. That it also happens to feature the highest recorded JPM yet (an unheard of almost 7!) is just a bonus.
The saga of Mr. PoopyButthole is hilarious and brilliantly constructed. The whole episode is brilliantly constructed. It’s commenting on at least two TV tropes (bottle episode and clip show) while at the same time twisting those constructs in a way that actually escalates both the comedy and the drama. The sight of Beth shakily pouring a glass of wine is both a joke and stomach-churningly too real. What a great episode. It will wear the JPM crown for a long time, I imagine. Unless next week’s episode immediately snatches it away. Such is the possibility for a show this rich and hilarious.
Episode 5: Get Schwifty
Running Time: 22:51
Total Number of Jokes: 136
Best Joke: “Then I better crunch the numbers.” – Ice-T
Through five episodes, Rick and Morty season two’s total joke counts have been remarkably consistent. The range is from 120 to 150 jokes per episode. That means a lot of what constitutes a higher JPM is merely running time. As one of the longer season 5 episodes, “Get Schwifty” stands at a disadvantage.
Not only that but it’s dealing with two other potential statistical stumbling blocks. One is the reliance on musical humor, which can be hard to gauge. That may have actually worked in its favor, considering how many funny lines are in the musical number “Get Schwifty.” But the other factor is that it is coming a week after an all-time great episode. Try as I might to objectively recognize jokes, my scale for recognition may have been skewed from last week. Regardless, 6.04 is nothing to be ashamed of and actually in the top half of the season so far.
Episode 6: The Ricks Must Be Crazy
Running Time: 22:20
Total Number of Jokes: 139
Best Joke: “I masturbated to an extra curvy piece of driftwood the other day!” – Morty Smith
Every Rick and Morty season two episode thus far has presented its own challenges in joke-counting. Episode six, “The Ricks Must Be Crazym” is no exception. So much of the humor in “Ricks Must Be Crazy” relies on impossibly dark things being funny. The good news is that they are almost always hilarious but for the purposes of this “study” – present a real pain in the ass.
Do we count it as a joke when a near sentient space ship resurrects a facsimilie of a cop’s dead son and then has it melt away again? What about when Rick gets his car battery working again because a tiny alien is rightfully concerned about total annihilation of his civilization? This is Rick and Morty so the answer to both is almost undoubtedly yes. “The Ricks Must Be Crazy” is a fantastic mid-season episode despite being a JPM challenge.
Episode 7: Big Trouble in Little Sanchez
Running Time: 22:54
Total Number of Jokes: 124
Best Joke: “Get your shit together. Get it all together and put it in a backpack – all your shit. So it’s together. And if you gotta take it somewhere, take it somewhere you know? Take it to the shit store and sell it. Or put it in a shit museum. I don’t care what you do. You just gotta get it together. Get your shit together.”
My initial assumption in looking for shows that would have a high jokes per minute ratio is that the more “verbal” shows would excel. That rapid-fire dialogue was the key to high JPM. Now, I’m finding with Rick and Morty that it’s a lot easier to cram in visual jokes. Visual jokes are only limited by the frame of the screen you’re watching the show on, verbal jokes are limited by what it’s possible to say in a given amount of time.
That’s why “Big Trouble in Little Sanchez” has a relatively low JPM (second lowest measured for this season yet). For an episode in which Rick adopts a new body and Jerry and Beth’s monsters become co-dependent and kill people, there is really a lot of dialogue. That doesn’t mean I ever get sick of hearing “I’m Tiny Rick, bitch!”
Episode 8: Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate
Running time: 22:28
Total Number of jokes: 133
Best joke: “You can’t make people like you, you just have to wait for hating you to bore them,” – Beth Smith
You can tell by the “Tempting Fate” portion of this episode’s title “Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate” that this was a hard decision from creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland. Should Rick and Morty attempt a sequel of sorts in only its second season and should it be of one of season one’s best episodes?
Their decision to go forward also has some significance for this ongoing JPM project as the “original” “Rixty Minutes” holds the record for all Rick and Morty episodes. The fact that “Tempting Fate” falls so short of that record is just indicative of how different the episode is while nominally being a sequel. In “Rixty Minutes” the episode is almost entirely just interdimensional cable but in the sequel we spend a lot of time with Jerry as he decides whether to donate his penis to save an alien dignitary’s life. It’s completely hilarious but also not as dedicated to filling every possible moment with a joke.
Episode 9: Look Who’s Purging Now
Running time: 22:03
Total Number of jokes: 143
Best joke: “You like that? You want me to cut to three weeks earlier when you were alive?” – Morty Smith
“Look Who’s Purging Now” goes to certain lengths to assure us it’s trying to be a “normal” or “average” episode of Rick and Morty. In the beginning Rick and Morty are cruising around the universe and Rick mentions that it’s nice to have a normal day after all the craziness they’ve been through this year re: high concept episodes. Later on Morty expresses his disdain (rather violently) for atypical story structure. Then Rick mentions alludes to “Act 1” of their day, suggesting it’s following a three-act structure.
So with it well established that this is the most typical, average episode of Rick and Morty possible, what does that do to its Jokes Per Minute? Makes it skyrocket, of course. Even the most typical, average episodes of Rick and Morty have the potential for high-density jokes. If anything, the absence of a high-concept structure in favor of three acts mean there is more room for some straight-up humor. And Morty finally losing his mind and killing nearly everyone in sight certainly qualifies.
Episode 10: The Wedding Squanchers
Running Time: 23:00
Total Number of Jokes: 113
Best Joke: “Being nice is something stupid people do to hedge their bets.” – Rick Sanchez
With a paltry 4.91 jokes per minute, “The Wedding Squanchers” is the lowest JPM episode of the season. It also may be its best. Save for a hysterical last minute Mr. Poopypants interlude, the final six or so minutes of “The Wedding Squanchers” is largely jokeless. And that’s more than o.k.
Rick’s sacrifice to save his family is a touching and discomfiting in to a fantastic season. One of the best things about Rick and Morty is its nihilistic sense of humor. As Morty, himself, puts it: “Nothing matters, nobody exists on purpose and we’re all going to die one day: now come watch T.V.” Rick and Morty is all the funnier for it but on the occasions it wants to play it straight, the dropping of that usual irreverence packs quite a punch.
In the final line of the season Rick is asked what’s he’s in for and responds “Everything.” It’s both the season’s final joke and a touching send-off. For comparison, the final Rick and Morty Season 1 JPM was 5.40
Final Rick and Morty Season 2 JPM: 5.96
Now it’s your turn. Did we miss a joke? Want to debate what qualifies as a joke? Let us know in the comments section, or shoot us an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ll update this post each week, so check back for more Jokes Per Minute!