Literally, 冗談じゃない means "it is not a joke" but actually it seems that the meaning of this is "something unthinkable even for a joke"( japanese definition:冗談にもそんなことを言ったりするな。).

「道楽に働いているんだろうだって? 冗談じゃない.」

"I'm working for the fun of it? Nothing of the sort!"


"Imagine marrying anybody in this heat!"


In the examples you provided, your interpretation is correct:

but actually it seems that the meaning is "something unthinkable even for a joke"

In these cases, here are some additional expressions to capture the nuance

  • I'm not even joking.
  • Seriously.
  • Not even playing.

For this example:

「道楽に働いているんだろうだって? 冗談じゃない.」

I interpret this as "You think I'm working just for fun? Please!" (not as in "pretty please")

For this example:


I interpret this as "I'm not even halfway joking, who would seriously get married to anyone in this heat!?"

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