Bad Dad Jokes

When it comes to getting kids to laugh, a witty one-liner or clever knock-knock joke can get them to chuckle, but dad jokes are in a class of their own. They walk a razor-thin line between cheesy puns and dumb humor, equal parts corny and hilarious. But they are also a cherished part of many families’ shared history and culture.

But what makes a dad joke a dad joke? While a good dad joke is often a pun or other form of wordplay, a bad one is merely a groan-worthy punchline. A dad joke is a linguistically derived category that is distinguished by its reliance on a pun, and it is commonly associated with middle-aged men who tell them to their children. This category is recognizable in other cultures and languages as well. For example, the Japanese have a term for it, oyaji gyagu, which literally means ‘old man jokes’ or ‘grandfather jokes’.

In fact, the very idea of dad jokes echoes the instinctive tease-and-tear play that most male parents have long been moved to engage in with their children (Murray et al., 2016). It’s a form of the same rough-and-tumble play that some non-human primates have even evolved to enjoy. It’s an expression of the same type of adolescent machismo that many adult men continue to feel. It’s a way of saying ‘I’m still your daddy,’ and it can make the little ones smile in spite of themselves. bad dad jokes

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