14 Funny ‘80s Jokes and Bits That Aged Like Fine Wine
The 1980s perfected comedy, politics and American culture as a whole. No notes from us! (We’re not being the least bit facetious.) As such, it was hard to narrow down the absolute pinnacle of 1980s humor that has stood the test of time, but we did our best…
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure: “If you guys are really us, what number are we thinking of?”
The answer was — ostensibly — 69. But the brilliance of this riddle is that it could have easily been either 69 or 420, and only the true Bill and Ted would know for sure.
Crocodile Dundee: “That’s not a knife… That’s a knife!”
Crocodile Dundee’s expert identification of what is and isn’t a knife is iconic. Chucking a similar phrase into a movie or a stand-up set still elicits a chuckle, even if someone’s never seen the movie before. An Australian accent kicks any joke up a notch or two.
Short Circuit: “Hey, laser lips, your mama was a snow blower”
What makes this scene indelible is that Johnny 5 drops this devastating burn before tripping an evil robot into an outhouse, resulting in an explosion of human dookie.
Die Hard: “Yippee ki-yay, ___ ___”
It’s a perfectly belligerent catchphrase for Bruce Willis, a Hollywood outsider turned Hollywood action star. What makes it so funny these days is how networks have desperately tried to censor the original swear word: “Yippee ki-yay, Mr. Falcon.”
Ghostbusters: “Human sacrifice. Dogs and cats living together. Mass hysteria”
The team is desperate to get the mayor to understand the gravity of the situation, spouting off Biblical disasters and the like. But Venkman finally gets through to him with this classic trifecta of chaos.
Airplane!: “I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley”
In response to being told, “Surely, you can’t be serious!”, Leslie Neilsen delivers the hokiest of dad jokes with an earnestness and urgency that transcends generations and comedic trends.
A Christmas Story: “Oh fudge”
Jean Shepherd’s masterful portrayal of the high highs and low lows of childhood minutiae is on full display when he describes how his accidental utterance of “the queen mother of dirty words” might as well be the end of the world.
The Breakfast Club: “Don’t mess with the bull, young man, you’ll get the horns”
Adult bully Principal Vernon wants to whip a bunch of Gen X ne’er-do-wells into shape, and his condescending tough-guy approach is relatable to anyone who’s ever been through middle school.
Honey I Shrunk the Kids: The Ant Scene
This movie’s practical effects are a marvel of 1980s engineering. The tree-sized grass, house-sized cookie and oddly wet, horse-sized ant makes you feel like you’re watching a more whimsical Jurassic Park.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Eddie Valiant: “You mean you could have taken your hand out of that cuff at any time?” Roger Rabbit: “No, not any time, only when it was funny”
It’s hard to establish the bounds of reality in a cartoon universe where literally anything is possible. Instead of coming up with some complicated macguffin like a modern movie would, the writers seem to be coming clean with their simple justification: Physics in this world are dictated by whatever’s funny.
Spaceballs: “We were told to comb the desert, so we’re combing it!”
The villainous Dark Helmet is given orders to comb the desert, so he sends out teams with giant combs to drag across the desert like a giant scalp. Of all the belabored puns and visual gags in the movie, this one stands out because of its heightened button — two Black troopers dragging an Afro pick.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: Cam Takes His Coma Underwater
We’ve all hit that point where we’d like to just sample oblivion — see what it would feel like to quit thinking, and just float. Looking around from the bottom of the pool, Cam seems to have his first lucid moment in hours.
Caddyshack: The Dalai Lama’s Tip
Carl recounts the time he caddied for the Dalai Lama, who promised him enlightenment upon his death in lieu of a cash tip. The promise of achieving total consciousness at the end of his life seems to justify his entire attitude toward his objectively crummy life: “So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.”
National Lampoon’s Vacation: “Boat leaves in two minutes, or perhaps you don’t want to see the second-largest ball of twine on the face of the Earth?”
Clark Griswold lays bare the motivating force behind every dad on a road trip: inane roadside attractions. “World’s Largest Ball of Twine” remains the go-to example of pointless wastes of time on cross-country trips.