Food & Drink

11 Horrible Jokes Restaurant Servers Have Heard a Million Times

restaurant customer telling jokes to server (illustration)
JASON HOFFMAN/THRILLIST

While every restaurant worker's experience is different, there are some commonalities all servers share. Everybody occasionally gets screwed by a bad tip. Most will endure getting yelled at by a cook, or try to figure out how to pay rent in $1 bills. And every single server, whether at a diner or a fine-dining establishment, will be forced to listen to -- and laugh at -- the worst, most overdone jokes. Over. And over. And over.

If you've delivered any of the jokes below, you very certainly weren't the first. And you won't be the last, either.

Server: “Can I get you anything else?”

Customer: “Yeah, a million dollars!”

If Gilbert Gottfried’s voice somehow merged with the visual appearance of Mitch McConnell and started playing a polka version of Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair,” it would not be even one-tenth as cringe-inducing as this stupid one-liner. Any dad with the barest ounce of self-respect would look at this joke and take a pass. An Iowa farmer whose entire livelihood depended on ethanol subsidies would declare this had too much corn in it. This joke is more cringey to listen to than Vanilla Ice doing a one-man re-enactment of an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. You get the idea.

“Is the cook new back there?”

So, a few points here. First… this isn’t funny. If your food sucked or took forever and you were trying to be clever about it to your server, you done goofed. Second, this is just plain disrespectful -- again, you can say the food sucked without being a dick about it. Third, oh boy would I love to see you say this to the cook’s face, because something is getting thrown at you if you do. Seriously, the first lesson any server learns is "don’t piss off the cooks," both because they control how and when your food comes out and because they are, almost to an individual, sociopathic monsters who kill baby penguins for sport.

Kidding, kidding! I love you, cooks! I am actually obligated to love you if I don’t want a paring knife hurled at my head with startling accuracy! But seriously, you haunt my nightmares and to this day I can’t even see a chef’s coat without feeling a twinge of reflexive, residual fear.

Server: “How was everything?”

Customer: *pointing at their empty plate* “It was terrible.”

This joke is something Henny Youngman would come up with if he’d just had a stroke. I think we can all agree this is a joke any Vaudeville act from the 1890s would’ve passed on for being too predictable, but the truly horrifying thing is there are people who do this and DON’T mean it as a joke. The mind reels.

“Are YOU on the dessert menu?”

Har har, I like a man with a sense of humor! Seriously, though, you legally have to tell people if you’re a sex offender.

*in reference to horrible children* “You wanna keep them?”

Actually, in the 30 seconds it took you to look down and half-heartedly pretend to stop little Braxlynnn from snort-spraying Sweet n’ Low all over the service station from 10 paces away, I went in the back and used an oyster knife to give myself a vasectomy, so I think I’m good.

Look, I get that kids aren’t always the easiest to control, and if you’re making an effort then good on you, but come on, Carl, you’ve gotta up that dad-joke game. At the very least, when I said, “I’m your server,” at the greeting, you could’ve gone, “Hi Your Server, I’m Dad!” or some shit. I don’t ask for much here.

“Did you have to kill the cow?”

Yes, I did. That's why your food took so long. I personally killed it with a shovel and I’m just getting the forklift in place so I can drop its carcass directly onto your table. I’m actually planning to stand nearby while you eat, throwing its entrails at you and cheering like it’s some sort of Eli Roth-directed version of a wedding receiving line. Bon appetit.

*while watching a server polish silverware* “Want to come to my house and do that?!”

Hahahaha! If you pay me… NOPE, because I’m reasonably certain you’re a serial murderer and I’d like my skin to remain attached to my body, thanks much.

“There's no price on this. DOES THAT MEAN IT'S FREE?!”

This one. This fucking one. I had to put that second sentence in all caps, because Ron here (who will insistently use your first name during the entire meal and will also tip you 7.5%) ABSOLUTELY shouted it loud enough for all the nearby tables to hear. And why not? When you’ve got a proven winner like that, why not drop it like you’re laying down an ace inside an 1870s riverboat? Shine on, Ron, you extremely stupid diamond.

“Since dinner is taking too long, is it free?”

Ironically, sometimes the answer to this serious-question-disguised-as-a-joke actually is yes, but it’s the truth that dare not speak its name: If you say it out loud, it immediately means there’s zero chance of you getting jack crap for free. I will tackle my manager at the POS system if it will stop him from comping your food if you make this joke. I will build a barricade around the entrance to the manager’s office and stand on top of it waving a French flag and communicating entirely in song if I have to. I will absolutely die on this hill.

“If I ask for [insert dumb shit here] are you gonna spit in my food?”

Oh for the love of… how many times do I have to tell you we don’t do this shit before you accept that we don’t do this shit? I’ve yet to work with a server who ever saw this happen to a customer’s food more than once in their entire careers, and even in those rare instances, the person was almost always fired for it. Plenty of us go our entire time in the industry without ever seeing it.

Ironically, most customers who preface a request with, “I’m so sorry to be a bother,” or something like that are about to ask for something TOTALLY REASONABLE and turn out to be extremely nice, good customers. Someone who makes this joke, though, has the empathy of the creature from Aliens and the sense of humor of also the creature from Aliens.

*while handing you cash* “It’s fake. Ha!”

I will make sure you are arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Ha!

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C.A. Pinkham is a guy who makes inappropriate jokes about Toblerones on the internet. Follow him on Twitter @EyePatchGuy.