Let’s make something clear. This whole calculating jokes per minute thing has always been a hopeless venture. What is a joke? Isn’t that subjective? How does one go about measuring them? Well, that’s never stopped us before and we stand by our many scientifically dubious studies.
Rick and Morty, though, has always represented the most difficult case. Here is a show so hilarious, so multi-layered, so…relentless that it’s almost impossible to keep up with not just the sheer amount of jokes but also the complexity.
This is Jokes Per Minute Ph.D. And we’re still giving it a shot. Now that Rick and Morty season 3 has “premiered” with a wonderfully unexpected and truly exceptional April Fool’s Day airing, and now that it’s back on a regular schedule, we’re picking back up the abacuses and putting on our old-timey accountant visors to make sure we leave no joke behind.
Rick and Morty Season 3 Total JPM: 9.16
Episode 10: The Rickchurian Candidate
Running Time: 22:44
Total Number of Jokes: 206
Best Joke: “Oh I GOT pubes, Commander-in-Queef. You wanna count ‘em?” – Morty
As has been covered by many Internet publications and our own excellent Joe Matar, “The Rickchurian Candidate” is kind of weird. Well weird in the Rick and Morty sense that it’s not that weird. It’s a surprisingly conventional finale to a wildly inventive, off-the-wall and wonderful season of television. Having watched it twice now, I’m still not entirely sure what i was going for and why the season decided to end with a sudden resolution to the Jerry and Rick “conflict.”
Regardless, however, JPM cares not for “weird.” JPM is only about three things. Jokes, Pers, and Minutes. So how does “The Rickchurain Candidate” fare? 9.18 puts this finale almost exactly in the middle for season 3. That seems fair to me as there is an extended scene of Rick in a vicious battle with President Keith David (I just consider it canon that Keith David is the President). And I think this season has made us all pretty desensitized to how many jokes this show can pack in a minute. NINE FREAKING JOKES! Damn. This was a great season of Rick and Morty that forever changed our expectations for how many jokes are possible per minute in one TV show.
Episode 9: The ABCs of Beth
Running Time: 22:13
Total Number of Jokes: 217
Best Joke: “But Tommy’s still in there raping muppets and eating babies!” – Beth
I want to describe this as an unusually philosophical and emotionally-grounded episode of Rick and Morty but then I see the quote I chose for best joke and…this show is great. “The ABCs of Beth” nestles neatly into the middle-ish of season 3 JPM-wise. That’s not entirely surprising because it features major moments of rapid-fire joke rattling followed by an extended exploration into the depths of Beth Smith nee Sanchez’s soul.
Around the episode’s midpoint, Rick rattles off a full 20 disturbing items that he made for Beth when she was a child. Each is counted as a joke. Conversely, around minute 17 – Rick and Beth almost abandon their jokes altogether (save for a few references to ABC’s The Bachelor) to confron the uncomfortable truth about her place in the universe.
“The ABCs of Beth” may end up being a divisive episode among the Rick and Morty loyal and its JPM reflects that nicely.
Episode 8: Morty’s Mind Blowers
Running Time: 22:03
Total Number of Jokes: 194
Best Joke: “Everything is crooked! Reality is poison! I hate this! Lambs to the cosmic slaughter!” – Morty
Well, that was fun! “Morty’s Mind Blowers” returns to a tried and true format for Rick and Morty. The clip show-esque style of “Interdemensional Cable.” Only this time, Morty Smith’s brain is the television. This return to a tried and true format has an interesting effect on Rick and Morty sesason 3’s JPM. While 8.81 is just an objectively high JPM, it’s actually the lowest recorded for season 3 yet. Perhaps that’s because having so many different vignettes requires a certain amount of joke-less setup.
Regardless, this is still a tremendously funny episode of TV.
Episode 7: The Ricklantis Mixup
Running Time: 22:11
Total Number of Jokes: 218
Best Joke: “I don’t wear this damn hat and commit to this rural character so you could eat for free while you come of age!” – Farmer Rick
Man. How on Earth does one even go about counting the jokes in the unusual, revelatory and ultimately fantastic “The Ricklantis Mixup”, which is far more mixup than Ricklantis. While our usual Rick and Morty go on an exciting adventure to Atlantis, we get to check in with many of the other Rick and Mortys of the multiverse who are trying to make a go of it at the Citadel after Rick C-137 blew it up (this show is so brilliantly weird and hard to describe in mixed company). The result is Rick and Morty’s version of The Wire – an in-depth (and shockingly so for 22 minutes) look at the Citadel, its various inhabitants and the bureaucracy that is crushing them all.
That premise is so out of left field that I’ll be honest with you: I have no idea how many jokes are in “The Ricklantis Mixup.” I watched it twice. Once to get the feel for this new, strange universe and once to count the jokes. I settled on 218 but I really just don’t know how accurate that can possibly be. Is Slick Morty coming to a tragic realization of the Citadel’s ultimate game-laying bullshit before he launches himself into a trash portal a joke? I have no idea. But I counted it. Because it’s so bizarre to even write that how could I not? At the same time it’s also a genuinely brutal moment in an episode full of them. “The Ricklantis Mixup” boasts a 9.86 JPM – good for second highest recorded of ALL TIME. Put an asterisk next to it if you must.
Episode 6: Rest and Ricklaxation
Running Time: 22:35
Total Number of Jokes: 211
Best Joke: “I want that love. Like that docking kind of love. Like penis in the foreskin kind of. Like warm…” – Jessica’s creepily sexual friend.
Rick and Morty is so on fire this season that I can see a JPM of 9.44, think “hmm that’s respectable,” and then realize it’s the second highest ever recorded. Rick and Morty continues to just shred through any concept of normality that we have with these Jokes Per Minute. And if the second-highest ever JPM weren’t enough, “Rest and Ricklaxation” may even be the best episode of the season.
The concept alone is fascinating but in terms of sheer humor, nothing can top Morty in this episode. Morty is absolute white-hot on fire throughout the entirety of “Rest and Ricklaxation.” His desperate sobs in the pre-credits sequence are pure Rick and Morty: hilarious and uncomfortable. And then his rise to the ultra-positive American Psycho version of himself is just stellar. Bravo, Young American Psycho Morty, bravo.
Episode 5: The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy
Running Time: 22:22
Total Number of Jokes: 230
Best Joke: “Hold on, baby. Mama’s coming and she cares about your titties.” – Beth
Here’s a fun fact: prior to the mid-credits teaser, the total number of jokes for “The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy” was 222 over a running time of 22:22.
Here’s another fun fact: this is the highest JPM we’ve ever recorded for anything ever. 10.35! TEN. POINT. THIRTY-FIVE. Honestly, we’re starting to get a little freaked out at this point. If Rick and Morty can reach double digit JPMs, what can’t it do? Find out who killed JFK? Find life on other planets? Complete and utterly destroy all life on Earth as we know it? Sounds impossible. But so did a JPM above 10 before we started this venture.
“The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy” is a fantastic episode of Rick and Morty, high JPM or no. The episode’s highlight – an epoch-spanning temporal adventure through a wormhole highlights what makes this show so great and a JPM honeypot.
Episode 4: Vindicators 3 – The Return of Worldender
Running Time: 23:02
Total Number of Jokes: 207
Best Joke: “You guys hit the baskets. I’ll disarm the drunkenly improvised neutrino bomb.” – Morty
In the “Best Joke” secton we include for each episode, we’ll typically looking for a spoken line of dialogue as it’s often the funniest moment in any episode and is easy to transcribe for print as opposed to say a concept or a stillframe. The spoken “traditional” jokes in “Vindicators 3” actually leave a bit to be desired. We went with Morty’s exasperated line about disarming neutrino bombs but really “Vindicators 3” excels at and relies on conceptual humor far more than any other Rick and Morty episode in recent memory.
It’s hilarious that Rick is a Jigsaw-like supervillain when he blacks out. It’s hilarious that Morty seems disturbingly used to all of this. And it’s hilarious that drunk Rick knew to celebrate his inevitable victory with a giant concert headlined by Logic. Still, it doesn’t make for a lot of transcendent spoken-word humor. In the end, however, dialogue-based humor might just be overrated as “Vindicators 3” reaches the second highest JPM of the season (and ever) with an 8.99.
Episode 3: Pickle Rick
Running Time: 23:25
Total Number of Jokes: 185
Best Joke: “How long have you been eating poop?” – Mr. Goldenfold
For the purposes of our ongoing JPM studies, “Pickle Rick” presents an interesting case. There are moments where the jokes are almost on a 1:1 ratio with each passing second. Both times Rick Sanchez in pickle form embarks on a symphony of spectacular violence the visual jokes tally up as fast as your eyes can receive them. Then there are other moments in Dr. Wong’s office in which jokes are as scarce as they’ve ever been on an episode of Rick and Morty. This is by design and its part of what grounds the otherwise ridiculous “Pickle Rick” and turns it into a genuinely great and unique episode of television rather than just a funny one.
Still, what effect do these wildly divergent approaches to joke presentation do to “Pickle Rick’s” JPM? Not a hell of a lot as it turns out. The two tones appear to have balanced each other out and bring “Pickle Rick” to a JPM of 7.96 which is about what we can seem to safely expect from Rick and Morty season 3. It’s technically the lowest JPM yet but behind last week’s “Rickmancing the Stone” by only .08 JPM. And it’s still within spitting distance of the outrageous JPM highs of the premiere.
Of course this score could be even lower if you’re not willing to accept Rick’s continued cries of “Piccckllleeeee Riiiiick” as jokes. And if that’s the case: shame on you.
Episode 2: Rickmancing the Stone
Running Time: 22:37
Total Number of Jokes: 180
Best Joke: “Ha ha! Oh jeez! My sister died in the spaghetti…” – Robot Morty
Rick and Morty season 3’s premiere back on April 1 brought us the most eye-popping, easily record-breaking JPM yet of 9.13. That wildly inflated number begged the question: was Rick and Morty season 3 really this spectacular or could we just contribute that high number to experimenter bias? The April 1 premiere was so unexpected that maybe the experimenter (me) was just so delighted by every moment so that everything seemed like a joke.
Now that episode 2 is here, we may need to face our new reality. Rick and Morty really might just be this funny and joke-filled. The 8.04 JPM generated my “Rickmancing the Stone” falls short of episode 1’s high by more than one full joke. Still, even 8.04 was a high that was previously thought unimaginable by JPM scientists across the world. It looks like Rick and Morty season 3 settling into a stunning is 7-9 JPM per episode range.
“Rickmancing the Stone” is fantastic. It’s investment in its characters feelings about a devastating divorce may have cost it a joke in the running time here or there but when the jokes are this good, who can complain? The best joke of the episode was a relatively easy choice but the entirety of the post-credits scene with Jerry and the misery-consuming wolf was probably the single best minute of the episode.
Also this was a nifty little sight gag.
Episode 1: The Rickshank Redemption
Running Time: 22:46
Total Number of Jokes: 205
Best Joke: “How is this a fair trial? Our lawyer’s a Morty!” – Morty*
*Ok we all know this wasn’t really the best joke but I loved it so much. Here’s the full Szechuan sauce rant you were looking for: “That’s what this is all about, Morty. That’s my one-armed man. I’m not driven by avenging my dead family, Morty. That was fake! I’m driven by finding that McNugget sauce. I want that Mulan McNugget sauce, Morty. That’s my series arc, Morty. If it takes nine seasons. I want my McNugget dipping sauce, Szechaun sauce . That’s what’s gonna take us all the way to end, Morty. Season….nine more seasons, Morty. Nine more seasons until I get that dipping Szechuan sauce. For 97 more years, Morty. I want that McNugget sauce, Morty.” – Rick Sanchez
“The Rickshank Redemption” doesn’t just break the record for most Jokes Per Minute of any Rick and Morty episode, or any episode of any other show we’ve ever recorded, it fucking SHATTERS the record. The previous record for total jokes on Rick and Morty was Season 2, Episode 4 “Total Rickall” with 150.* “Total Rickall” also holds the record for highest JPM at 6.98. Well, it held the record because “The Rickshank Redemption” now breaks it with 205 jokes and a 9.13 JPM. That’s…absolutely insane. That’s the 2015-2016 Steph Curry season of Jokes Per Minute.
*Veep season 4 episode 9 “Testimony” actually had 158 jokes but a lower JPM due to its 32:12 minute running time.
To be fair, there are a couple of scientific biases and margins for error at play here. One, the longer these continuing JPM experiments go on, the better and more adept the researcher (me) gets at identifying and cataloguing jokes, so the higher the raw joke numbers get. Also, the sheer audacity of dropping an episode on April Fool’s Day may have subconsciously inflated the total. We rewatched and measured a week out from the premiere to help mitigate this but it was certainly hard to get the butterflies out of our stomach still.
Regardless, this is a towering achievement for Rick and Morty and really all of television. Rick and Morty writer Dan Guterman tweeted after the premiere that subsequent episodes of season 3 will top “The Rickshank Redemption.” We certainly hope not or we might have to start doing Jokes Per Second.
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