FOX’s Emmy-winning animated series Bob’s Burgers has revolutionized the way humor is used in the adult animated series. Rather than the crass discriminatory jokes or random references (cough Family Guy) found in other adult cartoons, Bob’s Burgers plays with words.
There is an art to the Bob’s Burgers pun. Some are integral to the plot, and are often accompanied by similar plays on words, or referred to later in the dialogue. Others, such as the names of the stores next door and exterminator vans, are fleeting but still manage to pack a punch. Some of the characters’ names are even puns, such as Mort’s (extra points for Latin).
Brush up on your Bob’s Burgers pun word play before Season Five premieres on October 5 with our totally objective ranking. The puns on this list were ranked on humor, cleverness and method of execution.
The humor in this pun is all about context. In an effort to trap El Diablo and regain Little King Trashmouth’s territory, Bob and Linda call upon Teddy, who is heavily interested in the raccoon drama, and has had a live animal trap from the time he thought a squirrel was stealing his mail. Linda suggests that Bob cook a burger to lure El Diablo into the cage, and Teddy comes up with a perfect name. The joke gets better as Teddy mentions that Bob makes such a big deal over his names for the Burgers of the Day. (“That wasn’t so hard. Bob makes it sound so hard.”)
Most of the stores next door or exterminator vans are plays on idioms, but here, the idiom didn’t even need to be tweaked. Simple, effective and clever.
In this intro, the van really delivers with both the pun and the logo. Yes, there’s the reference to the band, but the animators take it a step farther by modeling Spray Anything’s logo after Is A Real Boy…’s cover art. “Spray Anything” is also a great pun because the exterminator’s method is revealed in the company name. “Tire-Rhea,” the store next door, also deserves some credit.
Most of the Burgers of the Day don’t have very funny names, and that’s because Bob tries too hard. He stretches the names of ingredients (I Don’t Bay-Leaf in Magic) and calls attention to puns that aren’t that clever (If Looks Could Kale). Bob’s puns are much better when they’re spontaneous or when he’s arguing (see entries 11 and 7). However, a few burgers are chuckle-worthy, like this one. Cumin obviously rhymes with human, and it would probably taste good mixed into hamburger meat. This pun works.
As mentioned above, Bob’s puns are just better when he’s experiencing tension, or in an argument, and both come up when Linda finds out that Bob was lying about being stuck behind the wall earlier in the episode. Combine that with brewing hysteria, and Bob makes an excellent pun.
Sorry, Bob, but Linda’s adaptation of your invention has a better name, and just makes more sense. The spice rack already exists (just in a different way), so Linda’s pun goes into homophone territory. Also, why would anybody want to put small bottles of things that spill around an arm when chests are far less likely to cause spills in the kitchen?
There are puns in which people substitute words, and then there is this pun where Tina substitutes sounds. In this episode, Jimmy Jr. knocks Horselain off Tina’s dresser after drinking too much margarita mix, and Tina’s reaction—and phrasing—is sincere. She panics, and the first words that come out of her mouth happen to be clever and delivered skillfully. This sentence is great because Tina previews the sounds she’s mashed together (“My porcelain horse,”) for the audience before she actually says “Horselain.” Fantastic execution.
When characters hide behind a plant, they usually give themselves bad aliases. Not Regular-Sized Rudy. Unlike Louise’s plant name, “Leafy Greenbriar,” Kate Bush sounds believable because, well, Rudy took it from a real person. Then, there’s the way he says it—while Louise looks confused, Rudy stays confident, making his new plant identity that much better.
In the face of death by mechanical shark, Bob found himself in the presence of a real-life idiom while looking for something to throw. The pun is perfectly executed, assisted by the image of Bob reaching towards a box of straws.
After Jeremy blabs the purpose behind Louise’s science fair demonstration to Mr. Dinkler, she gives us a doozie. She draws the audience in with “You son of a snitch!” and then goes in for the kill. “Squeal Magnolias” would have been great on its own, but it’s Louise’s opener that really allows the pun to shine.
After making it to the final round in the tablescaping competition, Gene terrifies the judge with his “Menstru-rant” display. Then comes Bob’s remark about calling the hasty entry a “Period Piece.” Bob’s aside to Linda doesn’t just kill because it’s a great pun, but also because the display is so grotesque (there are tampons and pads smeared with strawberry jam), that a more refined title would have had no effect on its reception.
With a quick and powerful pun, the store next door shows us how it’s done again. This pun is fantastic because it doesn’t poke fun at gay women—it plays with words instead of orientation. Plus, Let’s Scissor makes sense, as cutting stuff up is an essential part of collage. Flawless.
When Linda gets into the food truck’s driver’s seat, she notices that the vehicle is “big and intimidating,” and doesn’t know if she should drive it. That truck changes Linda. Her transition into road rage is immediate, and she screams at a handicapped pedestrian. Linda’s insult sets the perfect stage for the Belcher family’s Lolla-Pa-Foods-A Festival road trip.
Once Tina starts covering the Mad Pooper’s trail, a slew of puns arise, such as Linda’s “Butt-Ler.” However, the episode’s best pun comes from Tina’s conversation with the custodian, when she learns that the mysterious poop made it to the library’s reference section. Tina’s comment isn’t vulgar; she simply realizes the connection between encyclopedias and poop (Brown, brown).
After asking Tina to his school dance, Josh bikes to Wagstaff to pick her up—another pun, since he both flirts with her and lifts her into the air. Tina says that Josh literally picking her up is “like being on a romantic stool,” which is a strange compliment, but he knows how to make it smooth. Josh’s flirtatious rebuttal is spectacular because it’s a poop joke without the poop. This makes it, quite possibly, the most sophisticated poop joke I’ve ever heard.