From the moment a new father attempts to convince his baby that the thumb pushed between his fingers is in fact his child’s disembodied nose, the dad joke is a big part of fatherhood, like throwing a kid on your shoulders in the park, or teaching them to ride a bike.
Unfortunately the dad joke has become shorthand for a bad joke, but a well-timed “Hi Hungry, I’m Dad!” can be a pure and endearing thing. More than that, it can often be the first communication between a tongue-tied dad and a stubborn teen.
Then I said, "hi hungry, I'm dad!:
Other dads: pic.twitter.com/tXTobosv2Y
— Cats are the future (@iLikeCatShirts) November 6, 2016
There’s a stereotype with a big old chunk of truth in the middle: some men aren’t great at communicating their feelings. You know who else is bad at communicating? Hormonal kids approaching adolescence. This can lead to a lot of icy cold car journeys and awkward meal times.
The dad joke is a beautiful and innocent method dads have used for generations to get a response from uncommunicative teens. Even if that’s just a groan and a tiny smile out the car window, it can feel like the thawing of the arctic tundra to dad.
What is a Dad Joke?
Dad jokes are short gags that normally involve the often-considered enemy of good comedy: puns. They are not meta, clever, or edgy. They often veer into the so-bad-they’re-good territory, and could be considered guilty pleasures.
DAD: [grabs chest] Quick! Call me an ambulance.
ME: [hesitantly] You're… an ambulance.
DAD: I'm- I'm so proud of you, son [dies]
— mo (@chuuew) May 4, 2016
The other pure thing about dad jokes is that they are never offensive. Most teen girls would rather throw themselves out of a moving minivan than the topic of sex come up on a family drive. Your son is probably thinking about girls all day, but anytime you even consider mentioning the subject to him he disappears into his stinky room for the winter. The dad joke never veers into the tawdry or raunchy. It’s a safe distraction from the minefield of teenage awkwardness.
"This bouncy castle is twice the price of last year"
Please no dad
"..Inflation for you"
*kids start crying*
— Jaz (@jazmasta) July 11, 2015
Dad jokes are rarely original. The same lines have been echoed through the years, from dad to dad, from 80’s station wagons to rainy baseball practice, from backyard barbecues to sock-scented bouncy castles.
Why Dad Jokes? WHY?
They are not going to change the world, but I can’t imagine a world without them. A dad joke will rarely even make a room full of people laugh, but the simple dad joke is an innocent way of making your changing child laugh at the world. Sure they may be laughing at you not with you, but that’s okay, sometimes that’s enough.