I got on the phone with my dad recently and we weren’t too deep into the conversation before he said, “Can I tell you a cat joke?” “Sure,” I replied. “Just kitten,” he concluded. I laughed and it was quickly followed by another. “How do you keep a turkey in suspense?” “I don’t know.” “I’ll tell you tomorrow.” But wait, there’s more! “Why is a basketball court always wet?” “Because people are always dribbling on it.”
Ba dum bump, ching!
I saved them in my head for the next time I saw the other funny guy in my life. His repertoire includes such gems as “How do you catch a unique rabbit?” “U-nique up on it!” and “How do you catch a tame one?” “Tame way!” When I shared my dad’s jokes with him, thinking he would surely want to add them to his collection, he couldn’t believe that I would suggest that his jokes were on par with “dad jokes.” You would have thought he was saying “bad jokes” for the tone in his voice. It had been awhile since I’d heard that term and I couldn’t help but laugh. I mean a corny joke is a corny joke, right?
As you consider your dad on this great day of his celebration, do you recall his collection of corny jokes? It is so silly to think of dads as having a particular joke style, but it really is kinda true, isn’t it?
When you walk in the room and say “I’m bored” your mom will probably say something like, “I’m sure I can find something for you to do” or “there’s a sink full of dishes in there” or “you should consider starting that college essay, etc.,” but your dad is more likely to reply, “Hi, Bored, I’m Dad.” Some of the most mind-sticking lessons of my childhood were delivered as puns by my father. “Where are my shoes at?” would always receive “In front of the at.” If I said “I just assumed…” it was always followed by “You know what they say about assuming, it makes an ass out of u and me.” It was years before I realized that my dad wasn’t the only funny guy in the world, many of my friends’ dads did the same thing!
But, why? Why is it that dads are so prone to puns and pokes? Is it just dads or is it all men? I would tend to wager on the latter, personally. There is a real funny guy who comes to our beekeeping club meetings who likes to make silly beekeeping jokes. (I’m leaving out names to protect the innocent, or the guilty, as the case may be.) “What kind of car does a beekeeper like to drive?” “A Hummer.” “What kind of car does a beekeeper refuse to drive?” “A Volkswagen Beetle.” The only way you’re going to get that last one is if you are familiar with the constant battle most beekeepers fight with pesky hive beetles, but is it even really funny then? Of course, it is, but isn’t, because that’s what is so endearing about corny jokes, you laugh in spite of all the logic that is screaming against it inside of you. It’s that eye-rolling hardy-har-har kind of laugh that is just as therapeutic as a good belly laugh, because a laugh is a laugh, right? So, how is it that dads are particularly gifted with the gift of dad gab?
There is an awesome series that you can watch on YouTube called SciShow Psych and they post episodes twice a week that discuss how humans work and how we interact with the world. They published an episode last April called “Why ‘Dad Jokes’ Aren’t Bad Jokes.” It turns out that as a child’s brain develops, there is a stage in which these puns are particularly beneficial toward developing a sense of humor. It’s kind of ironic, isn’t it? If you think you’re funny, you should probably thank your dad for how “not funny” he has been over the course of your life.
Can anyone tell corny jokes? Of course! Ask my daughter, her dad is not the only one responsible for making her roll her eyes in painful response to a bad joke. He is way better at bad humor than I am, mind you, but he’s not the only one. My dad is definitely not the only person responsible for that well-rounded sense of humor that creates my corny jokes, either. But, as a sense of humor and corny repertoire goes, I definitely think of my dad when I am reminded of silly jokes.
What about in your family? Have you got any priceless puns that come to mind? A great gift for dad today would probably be reminding him of his better bad jokes. He will love knowing that you still remember them. Did you hear about the restaurant on the moon? The food is pretty good, but the atmosphere is terrible! Did I tell you the joke about paper? Never mind, it’s tearable! Or the classic what do you call cheese that isn’t yours? Nacho cheese!
I could go on and on, but why don’t you talk to your dad and let him do that, instead? Happy Father’s Day to all the corny, and not so corny, dads out there!