What’s so funny? Not much, shouted 2023, a year that went out of its way to tell terrible jokes at the expense of, well, just about everybody. Many of them are bad in different ways — offensive, lazy, insensitive — but these 23 gags take the dented crown as the worst that 2023 had to offer.
Rosie Jones’ Documentary Title
Brit comic Rosie Jones produced a documentary intended to criticize ableism, but people weren’t nuts about its ironic title, Rosie Jones: Am I A Retard? Jones, who has cerebral palsy, defended the choice. “I get it, a lot of people will find this word very shocking and upsetting,“ she explained. “But in my opinion, society doesn’t take this word and other ableist forms of language as seriously as any other form of abuse from any other minorities.”
Timothée Chalamet on Hamas
A dumb joke is a dumb joke, so why not find a different punchline that doesn’t involve an ongoing conflict in the Middle East?
The gag is that Chalamet’s character is so dumb that he named his band Hamas (pronounced Hay-mus). There’s nothing political or insightful here, just an easy joke that was branded as tasteless by many.
Chris Rock on Fighting in Front of White People
You knew Rock was out to draw blood with his Selective Outrage special, but even he might be surprised at the joke that most turned people off, a bit about how his parents taught him not to fight in front of white people.
Some viewers weren’t amused.
Rob Schneider on Dylan Mulvaney
Newly christened culture warrior Schneider couldn’t believe Bud Light had the nerve to support gender acceptance, blasting Garth Brooks for serving the evil brew at his bar and making terrible jokes like this one.
Newsweek reported on the backlash using responses like, “I love that you express your positivity and love for people by trying to influence an entire nation to bully a person who posts videos on TikTok. Maybe people can finally live their best lives by staying in the closet for fear of bullying. Great job, dude.”
Dana Carvey on Ching Chang
It was only a matter of time. On his Fly on the Wall podcast, Carvey often brings up his Ching Chang character as the type of character comedy he wouldn’t be allowed to perform today. When the podcast welcomed Shane Gillis, a comic who was fired from SNL for his own racist jokes about Asians and others, Carvey took the opportunity to break out his “comic” Chinese accent once more. “Oh, you don’t want that chicken! That chicken like dog but he not dog! You throw frisbee, he don’t even catch it! He poke hole in it one minute, you got frisbee next minute, you got spaghetti strainer because chicken make lousy house pet!”
Can Carvey retire this one for good now?
Ricky Gervais on Make-A-Wish Kids
Gervais is getting boring. He knows controversy equals clicks equals credibility (at least among the “you can’t joke about anything anymore!” crowd), so even before his new Netflix special drops, he’s sharing obnoxious jokes like this one.
I might be offended if the whole thing wasn’t so calculated to outrage.
Amy Schumer on Nicole Kidman’s Pose
Let’s call this one of the year’s worst jokes based solely on the shit Schumer received for posting it. After a camera caught Kidman in a posed moment, Schumer goofed on the actress with this Instagram entry:
Schumer deleted the “this how human sit” joke after the internet accused her of cyberbullying. I’m pretty sure Kidman survived the threat.
Lauren Boebert on Gender
After Dave Chappelle claimed he was “tricked” and “blindsided” by Boebert’s request for a selfie, the Congresswoman used the picture to blast this Twitter giggle:
You can tell it’s a joke by the laughing emoji at the end.
Shane Gillis on Australia
In his new stand-up special Beautiful Dogs, Gillis delivered a couple of back-handed slaps to Australia: “Australia’s good, Australia might be number two, that’s a good country, dude. It’s just a whole country doing nothing. That’s what I like about them. They’re just down there — zero exports, creating nothing. The only export I’ve seen out of Australia is just that YouTube video of that guy punching that kangaroo in the face.”
Which of course was followed by…
Gillis has told more offensive jokes in the past, but this is probably the first time he managed to piss off an entire continent.
Dave Chappelle on His Whereabouts
After stirring up a Boston crowd in October with his thoughts on Israel’s response to the Hamas attack — walkouts were reported — a spokesperson for Chappelle told The Wall Street Journal that the comic hadn’t been in Boston at all. I guess Chappelle’s nonappearance was a joke, but what’s the punchline?
Tiffany Haddish on Getting Yet Another DUI
After Haddish was arrested for a DUI in November, she took the stage that night and explained to the crowd, “I prayed to God to send me a man with a job, preferably in a uniform. God answered my prayers because God believes in me.” What's worse than making light of your DUI? Telling the same joke you told in 2022 after another DUI arrest.
Joe Biden on Maui Fires
On President Biden’s visit to Maui in the aftermath of deadly fires, he made an ill-advised joke about a cadaver dog on the job to find victims. The dog was wearing protective boots, a fact pointed out by Biden. “You guys catch the boots out here? That’s hot ground, man,” he joked, getting a few chuckles from the crowd. According to the New York Post, social media critics didn’t find it so funny.
Jerrod Carmichael on Whitney Houston
As the first Black host of the Golden Globes, Carmichael managed to earn some well-deserved criticism for one joke in his opening monologue, according to Today: “So, we are here, live, from the hotel that killed Whitney Houston, the Beverly Hilton.”
Crickets. Yep, that’s where she drowned, all right.
Ken Jennings on Assisted Living
A Jeopardy! contestant told host Jennings how thrilled her grandmother was at her success. “Her entire home where she lives was watching, and they stood and gave her a standing ovation during that part of the show,” she explained. “So that was a really special moment for her and for me.”
“That’s great,” Jennings responded. “And that means a lot in assisted living. Standing up... not easy... for all those people, I would assume.” Hey-o!
Ashley Gavin at the Club
Gavin was doing a little crowd work at an Indianapolis comedy club, suggesting that an audience member “go kill yourself.” When the club patron, Olivia Neely, responded that she struggled with mental health, Gavin responded, “I don’t care. You’re an annoying person. Try harder to kill yourself.”
Elon Musk Channeling His Inner Michael Scott
Kevin Brennan on Matthew Perry’s Death
After the tragic news about the Friends star broke, the former Saturday Night Live writer tried to find some humor in the situation.
After later explaining that drowning in a hot tub was funny “because it’s not very deep,” Brennan asked the pertinent question:
Colleen Ballinger on Beyonce
While Ballinger performing “Single Ladies” in blackface was originally posted five years ago, it resurfaced this year to tremendous backlash. The 2023 joke is her reps claiming it was actually Wicked green makeup. How green does it look to you?
Roseanne Barr on Jews
I wouldn’t call Barr’s comments on the Theo Von podcast a joke, but Barr did later, defending this as “sarcasm”: “Nobody died in the Holocaust either. That’s the truth. Yeah, it should happen. Six million Jews should die right now because they cause all the problems in the world. But it never happened.”
Even if you give Roseanne the benefit of the doubt and say she was joking, people didn’t appreciate the humor.
Pat McAfee on Michigan State’s Football Uniforms
When MSU introduced its new, very green uniforms, ESPN’s new hire McAfee tweeted, “I think Nassar was in on the design team actually."
For those of you who don’t remember your Michigan State sports history, Larry Nassar was the former MSU trainer currently serving decades in prison for sexually assaulting the school’s athletes.
‘The Idol’s Gag About Jeffrey Epstein
The Idol is terrible, but never worse than when the Andrew Finkelstein character declares, “I’m fuckin’ shitting more blood than a kid at Epstein’s island.”
Matt Rife on Domestic Violence
Your call on Rife’s worst joke — was it the bit about the waitress with the black eye in his Natural Selection special or telling anyone offended by the joke to buy a special-needs helmet?
Tom Segura on Showering with His Kid
In his Sledgehammer special, Segura jokes about showering with his six-year-old son. The boy notices his dad’s penis because, well, they’re showering together. “You have a big penis, and I have a small one,” the kid says.
“Well, that’s because mine’s hard, buddy!”
Just in case you thought things were getting weird, Segura reassures us, “No, I did not jerk off my son.” Whew.