Though the funny pages are usually a distraction from the everyday frustrations of life, Scott Adams’ satirical comic strip Dilbert makes the mundane work of the office the source of endless humor. With its relatable jokes and archetypal characters, nearly every person who has stepped foot in an office can get a chuckle from the denizens of Path-E-Tech.
Whether they are poking fun at brain-dead bosses or simply lamenting the mind-numbing nature of office work in general, almost every reader has been in Dilbert’s shoes at some point. Though they are all usually funny, only the very best Dilbert strips perfectly embody the cubicle lifestyle.
10/10 The Perfect Manager
Dilbert works so well because the titular character can say whatever he wants to his oblivious boss without consequences. The hilarious strip shows how easily Dilbert is able to intellectually out-maneuver his superior, and it is quite empowering to the downtrodden office worker.
While poking fun at his boss in particular, Dilbert makes a pretty apt observation about management in general. The strip perfectly exemplifies what makes Dilbert a classic comic, and the joke could be rearranged in a million different ways and still be just as funny.
9/10 Survey Says!
Though comic strips like Calvin & Hobbes are known for being heartwarming, the humor of Dilbert comes from how soul-crushingly true the jokes often are. In his meeting with the pointy-haired boss, Dilbert exposes the problematic lack of trust in many work environments.
The use of empty space in the panels also reveals Adams’ cleverness as a visual storyteller as the silence is just as funny as any words written on the page. Dilbert has always gone somewhat dark with its humor, but the employee surveys strip gets more sinister the longer it stays with the reader.
8/10 The Strategy
Managerial meddling is one of the most consistent themes of the Dilbert strip, and the eponymous character committed one of the most brutal takedowns of middle management in three simple panels. Not only is it cathartic to see Dilbert voice his frustrations in a sarcastic way, but it is, unfortunately, true of a lot of work environments.
Workers in every field have suffered under bosses who dictate their bad ideas with carefree abandon, and there is a universality to Dilbert‘s humor that helps it shine. The greatest workplace comedies of all time owe a heavy debt to Scott Adams’ creation, and the above strip is a perfect illustration of it influence.
7/10 Meetings Within Meetings Within Meetings
Meetings might just be the worst part of working in an office, and whether they are overlong or totally useless, no one enjoys them. Dilbert is notoriously averse to the corporate meeting, and he even uses the strip as an opportunity to subject his co-workers to a bit of workplace torture.
Essentially creating meeting-ception, Dilbert tricks the pointy-haired boss into getting stuck in a loop of pre-meetings until nothing ever gets done. Some have interpreted Dilbert’s workplace as purgatory, and the never ending slew of meetings seems to prove that take might be correct.
6/10 The Reusable Presentation
Wally takes center stage in a sidesplitting Dilbert outing all about avoiding work at all costs. The presentation format is a common trope in the strip’s history, and Wally makes a case for why he can’t do his work by doing more work.
Brutal honesty is the norm for the characters in Dilbert and Wally isn’t afraid to say exactly why he went so far out of his way to avoid doing his job. Considering that most office work is just pretending to work, it is extra hilarious that Wally would go through so much trouble.
5/10 Some Guys Have All The Luck
Though Dilbert is usually pretty grounded with its sense of humor, occasionally Adams uses absurdity for his funniest strips. Dilbert and Wally are the two characters most on top of things in the office, but even they are hilariously baffled by their coworker’s promotion.
Utilizing a style of humor that is seen in the funniest Far Side comics from Gary Larson, Adams proved he wasn’t afraid to get adventurous now and then. Even so, the strip still pokes fun at the seemingly random way in which some workers are promoted while the best languish in their lower level jobs.
4/10 Chop Chop
The best Dilbert comics work on multiple levels, and some just get funnier the longer they are ruminated on. Proving himself to be a true dolt, the pointy-haired boss almost makes a grave mistake at the expense of a few office workers’ anatomy.
As a send-off of the emasculating nature of office work, the strip is genius. On top of that, it is just a funny joke about how the mistakes of superiors are often pushed off on the people below them with no consequences. Fortunately, Dilbert is there to save the day.
3/10 Failing At Any Speed
The funniest comics in history must stay current to stay relevant, and Dilbert has certainly rolled with the technological changes over the decades. Lampooning the ever-changing tech field, Dilbert delivers his classic snarky wit when it comes to the rise of not-so-user-friendly gadgets.
Always on the ball, the joke is not only about the goofiness of some technology, but it is also an examination of the ridiculous expectations put on some workers. Dilbert knows the idea is bad, but the timetable he is given to work on it certainly dooms it to failure long before it could hit the market.
2/10 The Secret Of Success
Subtly breaking the fourth wall, Adams uses the Dilbert comic to poke fun at himself while also capturing the frustrations of working with teams. Alice takes her rage to cartoonish proportions for the sake of the joke, and the quiet ending of the strip is what really sells it.
Dilbert is never phased by anything he witnesses at work, and many offer dwellers can relate to the jaded apathy that has overtaken him. Also, the strip brings up the age-old question that most cartoonists constantly receive, to which Adams’ delivers his sarcastic answer.
1/10 Performance Review
Many office workers feel as if they do everything at their job anyway, and the pointy-haired boss only confirmed Dilbert’s life-long suspicion that he is somewhat useless. After asking Dilbert to do his own performance review, the wise-cracking hero can’t help but get one last dig in on his lazy superior.
While Dilbert’s jokes usually go over the bosses’ pointy hair, he isn’t totally oblivious and even gets in a dig of his own. The true humor of the skit is how quickly everything goes down, and the reader can imagine a host of meaningless interactions like the one in the panel each day that they go to work.