Ever since his first appearance in Batman #1, way back in 1940, the Joker has been a villain with one simple but genius gimmick: he's a man who finds crime funny. When you boil it all down, look at all the different iterations over the years, that is the one constant. The Joker loves to have a laugh, and there's nothing that makes him laugh more than some good ol' fashioned criminal activity.
The problem is, he's always searching for the next big laugh. Small, victimless crimes can quickly become overdone and lose their sense of levity. Joker is chasing the thrill of his misdeeds, eager to find the ultimate punchline that'll leave him laughing forever.
This has, on occasion, led to him taking things much too far, leaving anyone reading feeling very disturbed and very much not in on the joke.
With Joaquin Phoenix's recent turn as the Clown Prince of Crime receiving big Oscar buzz, we thought it was high time to revisit Joker's comic book roots. Here are some of the worst things the Joker has ever done, and all of them were just for laughs.
Jimmy Kavanagh is an Irish comics enthusiast and co-founder of Club Valentine Comedy, a Dublin-based comedy collective. You can hear him talk to his favourite comedians about their favourite comics on his podcast, Comics Swapping Comics (available on all good podcast platforms).