The Funniest Jokes, Moments and Scenes from ‘Abbott Elementary’
Like previous workplace mockumentaries The Office and Parks and Recreation, Abbott Elementary provides plenty of quirky characters that we can all relate to. We’ve either worked with — or have been — that person at work. The naive optimist Janine. The clout-obsessed principal, but totally bad at her job Ava. The “I can’t believe I have to work with these people” Gregory. The completely awkward Jacob. The clueless loser boyfriend Tariq. Old-school goody-goody Barbara. The always “knows-a-guy” Melissa. And the ultimate weirdo Mr. Johnson.
But unlike The Office and Parks and Recreation, Abbott Elementary’s humor never overplays its hand, and because the show is set in an underfunded Philadelphia public school, it’s always grounded in a believable reality. These characters can never go off on fantastical adventures like other sitcoms because a) they’re not getting paid enough; and b) someone has to teach these damn kids!
So, we’d like to share some of our favorite moments from the first two seasons of the show. Enjoy!
When the Reinforcements Don’t Pan Out
Ava: Okay, so... Not good. Ms. Schwartz was out-of-line, and clearly didn’t know how to handle her class.
Melissa: You hired her.
Ava: And fired her. They give me a lot of power around here. It’s crazy. In the meantime, Mr. Johnson will be watching her class.
Janine: Wait, so— Mr. Johnson, the janitor?
(Cut to Mr. Johnson writing ILLUMINATI on the whiteboard)
Mr. Johnson: That’s who runs the world, kids.
Not That Black and White
Barbara: Well, if they do go with the Black actor, I hope they go with that Mr. Brian Austin Green. I’m so proud of that young man and all of his success.
Janine (to camera): So, there are a bunch of white celebrities who Barbara thinks are Black — like Brian Austin Green would be Brian Tyree Henry.
Barbara (to a little black girl entering her class): Oh I see you, little Carrie Underwood. Good morning!
Jacob (to camera): Kerry Washington.
Barbara: I’m going straight home put on a little Millie Bobby Brown.
Melissa (to camera): Bobby Brown.
Barbara: No one’s done more for black actors than Tommy Lee Jones.
Ava (to camera): James Earl Jones.
Melissa (to camera): And we just let her keep thinking that. It’s easier.
Barbara: ...And if they go with a woman, you cannot go wrong with the splendid, the wonderful Michelle Williams. Now that is one talented diva.
The Rules of Attraction
Ava, after Janine passes out from not eating all day: She pale like a zombie! You know they eat the hottest people first. Let me back my tasty ass up.
Limitless in Reverse
Gregory: What are you doing here?
Tariq: Oh, you know, I’m just picking some stuff up then I’m going to din-din with Ne-Ne (Janine) for some nom-noms.
Gregory: Y’all are going to dinner?
Tariq: Yeah yeah, you know we’re gonna see how it goes. But maybe afterwards, we go to a Redbox, take it back to her place, you know. You know what her favorite movie is, by the way?
Gregory: You don’t know what Janine’s favorite movie is?
Tariq: Yeah, I think it was Up, or maybe it was Us… Something with an UH sound somewhere in there. I’ve been taking these new brain pills. They got nootropics in them, they clearly newt working… I said they newt working.
Gregory: Yeah, I heard you.
The Trials and Tribulations of a Substitute Teacher
Gregory: I’m the sub for the teacher who, uh... (checks notes) Punted a student.
Hollywood Movies with a Christian Twist
Janine: Barbara, what are you doing tonight?
Barbara: I’m going to a screening of Rocky Horror at my church. They take out all the cursing, all the references to sex and sexuality. It comes in at just under 26 minutes, and it is a hoot!
Barbara (to camera): It’s a yearly tradition. We’ve watched Nightmare Before Christmas, but only the Christmas parts. Practical Magic, without the witchcraft. And Hocus Pocus without Sarah Jessica Parker.
The Case Against Pizza
Gregory: I can’t do this. I just don’t like pizza.
Mr. Johnson: What?!? (Drops mop.) Say that again, I don’t think I heard you, son!
Barbara: Sweetheart, what do you mean you “don’t like pizza”?
Gregory: I just don’t understand the concept of having a bunch of ingredients just slosh around in your mouth. It’s not just pizza. I got like four or five things that I actually like, and I just stick to those.
Jacob: (squints) Do you like pie?
Gregory: Fruit should not be hot.
Trying to Impress the Boss
Ava: Superintendent Collins, I’m really looking forward to showing you our presentation.
Superintendent Collins: What do you mean “our”?
Ava: I’ve enlisted two of Abbott’s best teachers to help me with the presentation — our shortest and our finest.”
Superintendent Collins: (laughing) No, you’re not, slick. You’ll be giving today’s presentation alone. (Leans in, whispers into Ava’s ear and leaves.)
Janine: Oh my God, what did he just say to you? That if you don’t do well, you’re gonna get fired?
Ava: Worse. He mumbled it, and I didn’t hear it.
Kids Say (and Eat) the Darndest Things
Student: Mr. Eddie, I accidentally brought my seed to my mouth and accidentally ate it. Am I gonna have a lemon tree grow inside my belly?
Gregory: Well, let’s think about it. Did you also swallow a wet paper towel?
Gregory: Okay, let’s go to the nurse.
The Perils of On-Again, Off-Again Relationships
Janine’s friend Erika: You can’t have that man come to your crib.
Janine: Why not? We’re broken up, it’s history.
Erika: Exactly. Too much history there. Listen, you need to meet him someplace neutral and unsexy, like the school parking lot, or like a cheesesteak spot.
Janine: Well, he does find shaved meat sexy, so… Parking lot it is!
Adventures in Reading
Will, a student, reading slowly: Jack... and... Jill…
Will: ... went up the…
Barbara: Okay, Will, it’s your name, with an ‘H.’
Science Fiction > Science
Ava: Y’all seen that movie Pacific Rim where Idris Elba fights the Kaiju? Now that’s science. You know what’s iffy, though? Pigeons.
The Scourge of “Baby Shark”
Barbara: I’m trying to teach my kindergartners the letter “C,” and they are distracted by this song. It’s like “Back That Azz Up” for kids.