Review: The Joke Game
Publisher: All Things Equal, Inc.
Year: 2008

Cover photo shows a cartoon chicken crossing a cartoon road with exaggerated cartoon people in the background

how we met

My sister told me about The Joke Game originally. She found it at a thrift shop and played it with friends for several hours. Since she wasn’t giving it up, I had to add it to my wishlist and hunt down my own copy.

My impatience got the better of me and I ultimately ordered it from a seller on Amazon for like $15. I have seen it at thrift twice since then, but whatever. I have no regrets!

how it plays

The Joke Game has very simple gameplay. On your turn, roll the die and move your chicken pawn that number of spaces.

Chicken pawns are cardboard standees of chickens in various states like eating a banana, sitting, laying down drunk, blowing a whistle?
The chicken pawns. Choose wisely

Then draw a card and read the joke aloud for the category you landed on. There are only three categories:

  1. Blue: Stereotypes & play on words
  2. Yellow: Dry, witty & dumb
  3. Red: You know you’re [blank] when…

The reader and all other players try to come up with a good punchline for the joke. Once all players have written something down, each player reads their punchline. After this is done, the reader turns the card over and reads the “correct” punchline. NOTE: the red category does not have a correct answer

If any players wrote a punchline that matches or is close to / in the spirit of the correct answer then they get to move ahead one space! Once that is done, the reader chooses their favorite punchline. That player gets to move ahead two spaces! Then the next player rolls the die and takes a turn.

The example card includes the joke Why did the taxi driver quit his job? People kept talking behind his back
The example joke card for your eyes

Play continues this way until one lucky player makes it to the WIN! space. They are the winner!

how it went

The Joke Game is glorious fun. We have played a few of the other party games by this publisher including Hollywood Shuffle, which I wrote about, and The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Game, which I regifted before taking photos. The Joke Game is my favorite by far. It is simple and the Laffy Taffy style jokes are the ideal backdrop for this type of creative party game.

NOTE: While I would describe the jokes in the game as Laffy Taffy style, not all of them are good, clean fun. A few are a little on the risqué side so best avoid if you are sensitive to that type of content.

The WIN! space is a mere 13 spaces away from the start, and you do not need to land by exact count. You always move between 1 and 3 spaces on your turn, and hopefully you are also moving on other people’s turns. This game is short!

The game board showing cartoon characters and a short path to the end
The board showing both the short path your chicken must follow as well as trying to answer the question (I think) of why the chicken crossed the road

When I first played The Joke Game with my game group, I think we played twice back-to-back after being shocked at how quickly it ended. I played recently with Bill and my sister and bro-in-law over Zoom. We played one quick game, then just had our second game go to the WIN! space and back again to make it last a tad longer. But it’s a short game.

The box full of joke cards
The pretty box full of jokes

I will be intentionally stingy in providing joke examples from the game because there’s not endless amounts of cards either. I definitely recognized some of the jokes between my first time and second time playing. The fun part of that was it recalled some of our better punchlines from last play, and that was a fun memory to revisit! But current events or whatever is happening in your life can often drive your creativity in a certain direction and help ensure you are not answering jokes using the same exact punchline six months or a year later.

So while I don’t see myself playing The Joke Game on a weekly or monthly basis, I am keeping it for sure. It’s good fun and can appeal to many different groups and types of humor.

play or pass

Play. The Joke Game is simple, silly fun. I will never tire of it until I tire of the hilarious quips of my close people. Until we stop cracking ourselves up. Until we can’t find a joke in the darkness. In other words, I will never tire of it.