The Art Of The Dad Joke


Aw, daaaaaaaaaaaad

Dad Jokes . . . those corny quips that will automatically make your eyes roll (accompanying groan optional). Dad Jokes are often times puns that are awkwardly delivered and met with a short period of silence followed by a brief (perhaps sympathy) chuckle. But, for dads (or parents in general), dad jokes can be a way to divert attention or even a way to save one's sanity. Let's explore this genre a little further. By the way, when does a Dad Joke become a Dad Joke?

When it becomes a groan-up.

WATCH: Dad Jokes Explained By Our Kids

How many apples grow on a tree?

All of them.

How did the dad joke originate? The website states that "the earliest known use of the term online was by someone named Rob, on the B3ta Forums, December 10, 2003, asking other site members to post lame jokes from their dads: He got 15 pages of responses."

That might be because many kids have had the same kind of humorous interactions with their dads (or moms or grandparents): It's a shared experience and so the dad joke may have originated long before it had an official name. It's a wordplay tradition passed down from generation to generation.

What time did the man go to the dentist?

Tooth hurt-y.

These jokes exemplify gentle humor: Dad Jokes never have a biting sarcasm to 'em. That's why the language is appropriate for any age. The simple plays on words are sure to get a giggle, which can easily smooth over a tense moment. Kid had a bad day at school? Clear the air with a clever pun . . . even if you do get an exasperated sigh first. The mood is sure to change after the third Dad Joke, right?

Is the pool safe for diving?

It deep ends.

The dad joke can also be an opportunity for a genius reaction to a nagging kid's nonstop (and ill-timed) questions. Answer a nonsensical question with a nonsensical (in the form of misdirection) answer!

Dad isn't responding with the exact data requested, he's returning fire with fire (a non-aggressive, playful version of word-fire, of course). And, it's a response that is sure to poke fun at your kid as much as they've been testing your nerves.

A ham sandwich walks into a bar and orders a beer. . .

Bartender says, "Sorry, we don't serve food here."

There are a lot of foodie Dad Jokes. Maybe stemming from chaos around meal time or refusal to eat certain foods, a food or drink Dad Joke can get the meal moving again . . . along with the promise of dessert. And, the addition of alcohol into the Dad Joke most likely stems from dad's night out (a get-together of dads who have been around their kids too long and who share PG-13 Dad Jokes over a few beers).

Did you hear about the restaurant on the moon?

Great food, no atmosphere. Thank you! We're here all week!

You know, this one brings up an interesting point. While Dad jokes are nothing more than gentle humor per se, one wonders if they can be a catalyst for conversation and learning. For example, Dad says (forgive us for this one) "I don’t play soccer because I enjoy the sport. I’m just doing it for kicks." His young son asks about soccer, Dad obliges with a response, and perhaps that starts a spark of interest for the sport. And, the next Cristiano Ronaldo is born!

Any condiments with your order today?

Compliments? You look very nice today!

Pro tip: Here's another angle to consider, your relationship to the dad playing comedian can greatly alter the perception of the dad joke. If he's your pop, you're most likely tuned into his joke wavelength: This isn't your first Dad-Joke Rodeo.

But, if the recipient of said Dad Joke isn't a part of the family, they might not "get it," at least not right away. This can result in a spot of embarrassment for everyone—or at least, more embarrassment than usual. So, that leads to Pro Tip II (for all dads out there): Read the room first, and hold the Dad Jokes for a more intimate moment. It will lead to a more genuine reaction.

What do you call cheese that isn't yours?

Nacho cheese.There seems to be an endless supply of Dad Jokes. Our research didn't locate a specific Dad Joke that could be classified as "The Greatest Ever," because Dad Jokes, just like other types of humor, rely on the perception/reception of the audience of the said joke.

Why do some jokes seem to catch fire and others don't? It seems adults may use Dad Jokes around other adults for the same reasons they use them around their kids . . . to ease tension, clear the air, break a silence. Just make sure they don't get too raunchy when there are kids around again.

Dad Jokes for the graveyard

Dad Jokes have been around for awhile, and that means things that might've been considered funny or corny (thus suitable for dad consumption) aren't really par for the joke-course these days. Examples? How about these:

  1. "Where did the one-legged waitress work? IHOP!"
  2. "What do you call a man with no arms and no legs lying in front of your door? Matt." Not cool to play the disability angle, dad.

While they might've gotten a giggle back in the day, our collective consciousness has (finally) acknowledged that a disability is nothing to make light of. It's the same with religion, race, misogyny (blonde jokes, anyone?). So, although Dad Jokes are harmless in nature, the content may not be: Check yourself before you wreck yourself!

OK, OK, it's time to go . .

You've really been a great crowd. We're ready to head out. "Dad, can you put my shoes on?"

"No . . . I don't think they'll fit me." And, that's a wrap.

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