Last week, I had my friend Katelyn over to spend the day co-working at my house. Usually I work from home alone, which I don’t mind, but I was thrilled to have a coworker for the day, and immediately regaled her with some of the worst workplace jokes I had collected from the years I spent working in traditional offices. “Damn, is it Friday yet?” I groaned as I walked to the kitchen to get more coffee. ”Why are you talking like that?” she asked with genuine concern, and suddenly I realized Katelyn had never had a desk job. She had no idea about novelty coffee mugs and perfectly timed staff meeting zingers. It was quite possible she had never come down with a nasty case of the Mondays.
I spent the rest of the day schooling her on the basics of office humor, and decided that it would probably be prudent to compile all the worst office joke genres in one place. Whether you’re new to the subject or have been honing your “Give me coffee and nobody gets hurt” material for years, read on for a comprehensive field guide to 9-5 humor…
Example: “Someone’s got a case of the Mondays!”
Why they exist: Mondays are the worst, and often the easiest way to express our emotional pain is through humor. Also to blame: Garfield comics and “Office Space.”
When to use them: Greeting your bleary-eyed coworkers in the elevator; explaining why you have absolutely no constructive ideas to share at a brainstorming meeting on Monday at 10 a.m.
Note: Advanced office jokesters might consider using a Monday joke on, say, a Thursday as an unexpected subjugation of traditional weekday humor models.
Examples: “TGIF!”; ”Is it Friday yet?”
Why they exist: Obvi because Fridays are the beeeessssst! And for the vast majority of American office workers, the best thing about their work week happens at 5 p.m. on Friday, when they can peace out of the office and spend the weekend drinking heavily and complaining about their jobs.
When to use them: Friday jokes may be used throughout the week to reference one’s desire for Friday to come sooner, but they will be particularly well received on Fridays, when morale is high and Friday jokes are flying fast and loose.
Hump Day Jokes
Examples: ”Happy hump day!”; “Phew, made it over the hump, now we can cruise on into Friday!”
Why they exist: Like all day-of-the-week jokes, Hump Day jokes are a testament to the office worker’s hatred of Monday and love of Friday, and fill the humor gap between the two extremes.
When to use them: Wednesdays, duh.
Note: Hump day jokes can easily be combined with Friday jokes to maximize effectiveness.
Examples: “Hand over the coffee and nobody gets hurt!”; “You don’t want to see me before I’ve had my coffee.”
Why they exist: Coffee is the lifeblood of anyone who works a 9-5 schedule, and that dependency has sparked a special brand of caffeine-related comedy.
When to use them: As an excuse for saying something dumb (who could blame you if you haven’t had your coffee yet!); making eye contact with a coworker while filling up your mug for the fifth time.
Examples: “Working hard or hardly working?”; “Is it beer-thirty yet?”
Why they exist: These tired standbys have been around since the Roman Empire, when mischievous merchants would inscribe “Operans graviter aut operans vix?” on papyrus scrolls and pass them to laborers toiling away in the midday sun. It was moderately funny then. It is not funny at all now.
When to use them: If you have the urge to participate in office banter but don’t actually want to add any meaning or value to the conversation.
Examples: Novelty coffee mugs; pinning a Dilbert comic to your cubicle wall; using your tie to mime hanging yourself.
Why it exists: For every successful Gallagher who tours the world smashing watermelons, there are 100,000 mid-level corporate managers who wear a mechanical moving Santa hat to the Christmas party every year and will not stop smirking until you comment on it.
When to use it: When you’re not feeling creative enough to come up with your own material; when you’re on a conference call and verbal jokes aren’t appropriate; when your end goal is to goad a pitying “heh heh” out of your coworkers.
“The Boss Is Gone!” Jokes
Example: “Looks like our supervisor is out sick today. Time to put my feet up on the desk and crack open a Corona!”
Why they exist: Remember in college when the professor was running late to class, there was always that guy in the third row who would be like, “Well, guess it’s time to go hit the bar!” and then pretend to pack up his stuff for comedic effect, but he wouldn’t actually leave? That guy grew up and got a job in your office.
Note: No one has ever acted on a threat or plan made in the context of a “The boss is gone!” joke. To do so would break a sacred rule of office humor because there is a chance it might actually be funny.
The Candy Dish Shtick
Examples: [Reaches into candy dish] “Chocolate is my drug of choice!”; “Calories don’t count before noon, right?”
Why it exists: The office candy dish is both the bane and the highlight of an office worker’s daily life. After a rough performance evaluation, a mini Milky Way bar has the power to lift your spirits, but realizing you’ve put on 20 pounds of fun-size candy bar weight over the course of a month is a particularly tough pill to swallow.
When to use it: As a self-deprecating comment to break the ice with whoever else is lurking around the candy dish.
Note: If the office candy dish happens to be located on your desk, please refrain from launching into a candy dish shtick every time you grab a Tootsie Roll. Like candy, these jokes should be enjoyed in moderation.
Email the author of this post at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter @winona_rose.