• Follow us

Movies

A Dad Defends Dad Jokes

Last Sunday morning, during parental small talk at a kids’ birthday party in Brooklyn, one dad told me he had just “cobbled together” summer camps for his child, to which I replied that camps in the area are very “cobble-able.” Sensing a prime opportunity, his eyebrows rose. “Cobble Hill,” he said, referencing a nearby neighborhood.

Then we paused, heads shaking with a smidgen of shame. We knew what had just happened. Dad jokes had been committed.

What is it about procreating that turns men into miserable comics? In honor of Father’s Day, I’d like to float a theory while also making the case for the virtue of our much-mocked brand of humor.

Dads have, of course, been telling bad jokes forever, but the term “dad joke” didn’t enter the lexicon until the past decade. In the last few years, it has become a ubiquitous if affectionate insult online, and even its own booming comedy genre, the subject of popular Twitter and Instagram accounts and a cottage industry of books with titles like “101 So Bad They’re Good Dad Jokes” and “Exceptionally Bad Dad Jokes.” (No fewer than eight dad joke books have been published since 2017.).

‘What do you call a fish without eyes? Fsh.’

I’m a comedy critic, so being a dad can seem like an occupational hazard. It may be professional suicide to admit, but since having children, I often find myself making lame puns as well as poop jokes. In subway stations, I have been known to silently mouth words to my daughters when a loud train goes by until the noise quiets and I add: “ … and that’s the secret to life.”

Look, I’m not proud.

The demise of a dad’s sense of humor begins in early parenthood while workshopping jokes in front of babies, tiny philistines who think peekaboo is a hilarious bit of misdirection. It isn’t long before these drooling rubes turn into trash-talking toddlers and fall in love with the scatological. Like so many lazy comics, we parents pander. If jokes work, they stay in the set. Gradually, we become hooked on cheap laughs. Some of us even delude ourselves into thinking we are actually funny.

This may sound like I’m blaming children for dad jokes, but only partly. Once dads develop this new sensibility, it doesn’t evolve, while our audience does. When their humor matures, they mock ours and, in their search for a critical language to express their contempt, the dad joke was born.

Some fathers balk at the term. Earlier this year, Andrew Beaujon wrote in Washingtonian magazine that it carries “the sting of ageism.” Perhaps. But one of the pleasures of this humor is it gives fathers license to joke like they did as small children. Part of this is nostalgia, but not entirely. The most common dad joke relies on puns. (“What has two butts and kills people? An assassin.”) To redeem them, you needn’t point out that Shakespeare used such jokes. Just listen to the raucous crowd at the popular Punderdome contest, essentially an excuse for young people without children to tell higher quality dad jokes.

‘If at first you don’t succeed, don’t try skydiving.’

Dad jokes are also the training wheels for cringe comedy. Part of their purpose is to embarrass and create discomfort, a benign troll. The goal often is to get not a laugh but a groan. It’s probably no accident that the oldest collection of dad jokes you can buy on Amazon is from an English writer (Ian Allen, who wrote “The Very Embarrassing Book of Dad Jokes” in 2012), since the British comic tradition has always been best tuned to the delight of embarrassment.

One appealing aspect of dad jokes is how they can be self-mocking and teasing simultaneously. An ironic distance is baked into them. No wonder they’re popular among Generation X parents.

But they have deeper roots. Dad jokes tend to be clean, generic and short, requiring no context or explanation. In many ways, they are throwbacks to the days when comics leaned on bits that started with a trio of religious figures walking into a bar, or evergreen one-liners that began with, “Did you hear the one about … ?”

Professional comics once trafficked in these jokes, but they went out of fashion as stand-up became more ambitious, and also more personal, putting a premium on original material that reflected a specific point of view.

What’s striking about the new dad joke books is how similar they are to once-essential, long-forgotten gag books from the middle of the last century, the kind written by prolific quip collectors like Robert Orben, whose work was plundered by entire generations of comics as disparate as Joan Rivers, Steve Martin and Dick Gregory.

Say what you will about a joke like, “What do you call someone with no body and just a nose? Nobody knows,” but it doesn’t age.

The history of comedy is not a linear story of steady progress, and the dad joke may just be the latest incarnation of a genre whose appeal is deep-seated and will never die so much as be reborn in different incarnations. (A cousin of this genre can be found in the quips in “Old Jews Telling Jokes,” a website that was turned into a hit Off Broadway play.)

‘What rhymes with orange? No it doesn’t.’

The best argument for dad jokes is that bad art can be tremendous fun. Anyone who tells you differently has never cackled their way through an abysmal movie as they made fun of it with good friends, or gleefully beat a joke into the ground, or seen Norm Macdonald spoof a roast by telling the most hackneyed jokes with complete conviction. Some of the biggest laughs of my life have been from bad jokes, because what’s funnier than failure?

Bad jokes clarify the feat of good ones, but also show their limitations. Stale punch lines rarely segregate those who get it from those who don’t, but they unify everyone in sighing condescension. They’re inclusive, the opposite of inside jokes.

In a time when bad jokes often mean jokes that offend, dad jokes carve out space to hate comedy for purely aesthetic reasons. Politics are involved, of course, because where is the mom joke? That the term doesn’t exist says less about mothers’ senses of humor, which are just as corny as fathers’, than about restrictive gender roles that cast women as humorless disciplinarians.

And yet, with our nation so divided, and our popular culture increasingly following suit, surely one of the few things that everyone can agree on is that “What do you call a fake noodle? An impasta” is an absolute abomination.

Read More



Leave A Comment

More News

Rolling Stone Latest Movies

Can a Beatles Fan Believe in ‘Yesterday’? 2019-07-01 11:36:54Our resident hardcore Beatleologist on why this fantasy about a Fab Four-less world should have fixed its holes

‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ Trailer Puts Clever Spin 2019-07-01 11:12:39Danny DeVito and Danny Glover transform into Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart in sequel to 2017 reboot

‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ Review: The Webslinger Swings 2019-07-01 10:54:55Tom Holland saves this decent enough Spidey movie set in a post-'Endgame' MCU

Why ‘The Queen’ Documentary Is an Essential Queer 2019-06-28 12:37:48Intimate 1968 portrait of gender pioneers returns to screens for Pride month — and its rightful place in the LGBTQ pantheon

The Last Word: John Waters on Censorship, Smoking 2019-06-27 13:46:21With a new book called 'Mr. Know-It-All' out now, the People's Pervert goes deep on the things that make him tick

New Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, Lana Del Rey 2019-06-27 09:53:03Upcoming franchise reboot stars Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, Ella Balinska

‘Maiden’ Review: An All-Female Crew’s Sail of the 2019-06-27 09:00:12Documentary on the 1989 yacht crew who beat the odds to win a major race and knocked the sexist world of sailing on its ass

Ian McKellen Keeps Dark Secrets From Helen Mirren 2019-06-26 14:38:48McKellan stars as a con man out for Mirren's money

Best Movies to See in July: ‘Once Upon 2019-06-26 10:06:37From Quentin Tarantino's epic valentine to Tinseltown to a feline Beyoncé and a new Webslinger adventure

‘Yesterday’ Review: In a Beatles-Less World, Love Really 2019-06-26 08:29:41Danny Boyle's romcom imagines a history without the Fab Four — and an aspiring songwriter who decides to fill in the gap

Franco Zeffirelli, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ Director, Dead at 2019-06-15 12:01:11Italian filmmaker known for his Shakespeare adaptations, renowned opera productions

The First Time: Chris Redd 2019-06-14 10:58:07Comedian talks bombing on stage, impersonating Kanye West and his new film, Deep Murder

FilmBook

KNIVES OUT (2019) Movie Trailer: Daniel Craig & 2019-07-03 15:09:54  Knives Out Trailer Rian Johnson‘s Knives Out (2019) movie trailer has been released by Lionsgate and stars Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Lak

ANIMAL KINGDOM: Season 4, Episode 7: Know Thy 2019-07-03 10:00:29  Animal Kingdom Know Thy Enemy Trailer and Ambo Plot Synopsis TNT‘s Animal Kingdom: Season 4, Episode 7: Know Thy Enemy TV show trailer an

THE HANDMAID‘S TALE: Season 3, Episode 8: Unfit 2019-07-03 08:30:15  The Handmaid’s Tale Unfit Trailer Hulu‘s The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 3, Episode 8: Unfit TV show trailer has been released an

AMC San Diego Comic-Con 2019 Panels: THE WALKING 2019-07-03 07:00:08  AMC San Diego Comic-Con 2019 Panels A press release has been issued for the AMC San Diego Comic-Con 2019 Panels. The press release consists of

News Brief: Regal Cinemas’ Unlimited Film Ticket Service, 2019-07-02 21:14:08  News Brief: Regal Cinemas’ Unlimited Film Ticket Service, New Seasons of The Flash & Wynonna Earp Begin Production, and More In brief

AGENTS OF SHIELD: Season 6, Episode 8: Collision 2019-07-02 11:30:51  Agents of Shield Collision Course (Part 1) Trailer and Episode 9-10 Synopses ABC‘s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 6, Episode 8: Collision

SUITS: Season 9 TV Show Trailer: The Final 2019-07-02 10:00:44  Suits Season 9 Trailer USA‘s Suits: Season 9 TV show trailer has been released and stars Patrick J. Adams, Gabriel Macht, Katherine Heigl

Disney Television Studios San Diego Comic-Con 2019 Panels: 2019-07-02 08:30:04  Disney Television Studios San Diego Comic-Con 2019 Panels A press release has been issued for Disney Television Studios’ San Diego Comic-

EUPHORIA: Season 1, Episode 4: Shook One Pt. 2019-07-02 07:00:19  Euphoria Shook One Pt. II Trailer HBO‘s Euphoria: Season 1, Episode 4: Shook One Pt. II TV show trailer has been released and stars Zenda

THE BOYS (2019) TV Show Featurette & TV 2019-07-01 18:13:49  The Boys TV Show Featurette and TV Spot A TV show featurette and a new TV show commercial for The Boys (2019) have been released Amazon Prime.

JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL (2019) Movie Trailer: The 2019-07-01 12:40:30  Jumanji: The Next Level Trailer Jake Kasdan‘s Jumanji: The Next Level (2019) movie trailer has been released by Sony Pictures and stars D

Box Office: June 28-30, 2019: TOY STORY 4, 2019-07-01 09:00:08  Box Office June 28-30, 2019 Toy Story 4 was the Number One film at the box office for the second weekend in a row with $57.9 Million for $236.9

NYT > Movies

Review: ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ Is the Latest 2019-07-02 00:53:11Peter Parker deals with teenage angst and lingering Stark Industries H.R. issues while trying to enjoy a trip to Europe.

‘Toy Story 4’ Is Bigger Than the Beatles 2019-07-01 17:31:57After a solid second weekend, the movie’s global total has hit $496.5 million. “Yesterday” landed in third place.

Bob Dorian, Genial Guide to Old Films on 2019-07-01 16:49:21A movie buff since childhood, Mr. Dorian was an actor, a magician and a disc jockey before joining the channel as prime-time host in 1984.

Review: Hugh Jackman Isn’t Quite the Greatest Showman 2019-07-01 16:48:20His world tour “The Man. The Music. The Show.” stopped at Madison Square Garden. But it would have been better on Broadway.

Isabel Sarli, Popular Star of Racy Argentine Films, 2019-07-01 15:06:01Ms. Sarli reached international audiences in dozens of movies that were the bane of censors, starting with one in which she appeared fully nude.

The Long and Winding Road to ‘Yesterday,’ a 2019-07-01 14:52:10Want to make a movie about the enduring power of the Beatles? You’ll need a lot of their songs, and more than a little help from your friends.

‘A Bundle of Action’ and ‘Just the Right 2019-07-01 11:20:44Young moviegoers weigh in on the much-anticipated Pixar sequel.

‘Yesterday’ | Anatomy of a Scene 2019-07-01 10:53:07Danny Boyle narrates a sequence from his film.

Tom Hiddleston to Star in Broadway Revival of 2019-06-30 23:17:30Jamie Lloyd’s production of Harold Pinter’s romantic triangle is transferring this fall after a sold-out London run.

‘Yesterday’ Star Himesh Patel Was Delivering Papers Not 2019-06-30 23:11:49When he was a soap opera regular, his parents insisted that he have a paper route to keep him grounded. That lasted till he was 21.

‘Yesterday’ Review: I Saw a Film Today, Oh 2019-06-30 18:18:16Danny Boyle and Richard Curtis invite you to imagine there’s no Beatles.

A Bird Show Spots a Rival, and Bird-Watchers 2019-06-29 23:34:16Two nature series with black hosts debuted online recently. The makers of one say their rivals are playing into racial stereotypes.

L.A. Times - Movie News

Review: In the unsettling ‘Midsommar,’ the nightmare unfolds 2019-07-01 18:25:00The setting of “Midsommar,” a luxuriant deep-tissue freakout from writer-director Ari Aster, is a picturesque commune in Hälsingland,

CAA becomes third agency to take Writers Guild 2019-07-01 15:15:00CAA has filed an antitrust lawsuit against the Writers Guild of America, becoming the third Hollywood talent agency to take the union to court over th

Film academy invites more women than men to 2019-07-01 14:45:00As of Monday, there are a whole lot more people in Hollywood who’d like to thank the academy. In its latest step toward diversifying its histori

Taylor Swift rages on the news of Scooter 2019-06-30 17:20:00Taylor Swift took to Tumblr on Sunday to express her frustration over news that her master recordings had been acquired by music manager Scooter Braun

‘Toy Story’ remains on top, ‘Annabelle 3’ and 2019-06-30 13:50:00Toys continued to dominate the box office for a second consecutive weekend with "Toy Story 4" maintaining its position at the top of the charts and

Meet ‘The Last Black Man in San Francisco’ 2019-06-29 10:00:00Like the pastors and storytellers in his life he credits with igniting his early artistic spark, Jonathan Majors is given to spinning bright bursts of

Writers Guild sends cease and desist letter to 2019-06-28 20:20:00After being slapped this week with lawsuits from two of Hollywood’s biggest talent agencies, the Writers Guild of America fired back on Friday,

Indie Focus: Climb on board with 'Maiden' 2019-06-28 17:00:00Hello! I’m Mark Olsen. Welcome to another edition of your regular field guide to a world of Only Good Movies. Anyone looking to celebrate the up

The captain of the Maiden talks about how 2019-06-28 16:10:00Thirty years ago, Tracy Edwards and her female crew made history when they entered the male-dominated world of the Whitbread Round the World yacht rac

New video: ‘Transit’ is another provocative thriller from 2019-06-28 08:00:00New on Blu-ray “Transit” (Music Box DVD, $29.95; Blu-ray, $34.95; also available on VOD) German director Christian Petzold has made some o

Review: Carlos Reygadas’ ‘Our Time’ opens up a 2019-06-27 15:55:00In the most resonant sequence in Carlos Reygadas’ “Our Time,” the camera soars over a mist-shrouded landscape while a woman, Esther

Review: ‘Blue Note Records: Beyond The Notes’ celebrates 2019-06-27 15:55:00Jazz may be a quintessentially American art form, but it is Europeans who make some of the best jazz documentaries, with the captivating “Blue N

CinemaBlend Latest Content

Rami Malek On Refusing To Play A Religious 2019-07-03 13:57:53Born of Egyptian parents, the Mr. Robot actor was worried about playing a villain at first.

Wait, Is Quentin Tarantino Done With Movies After 2019-07-03 13:51:16The director has a self-imposed cap of 10 films, but could he decide to call it a career early?

The #1 Reason You Should See Endgame's Re-Release, 2019-07-03 13:06:30Spoiler alert: it involved a photo from the set.

Could The Beatles Survive In Today’s Music Industry? 2019-07-03 12:32:10An interesting concept. They should totally make a movie about it.

New Lion King Video Includes First Look At 2019-07-03 12:11:59It means "no worries."

Midsommar Is A ‘Beautiful Nightmare’ According To Florence 2019-07-03 11:32:10This movie sounds wild.

Director Jon Watts Has A Cool Theory About 2019-07-03 11:27:03Oh man, I hope this plays out.

Star Wars’ Daisy Ridley Teases An Epic Lightsaber 2019-07-03 10:56:41The conclusion to an epic saga needs an epic battle.

Deadpool Creator Rob Liefeld Wants Justice League’s Snyder 2019-07-03 10:44:07Add him to the list.

Ed Sheeran Helped Yesterday Director Danny Boyle Get 2019-07-03 09:55:58Ed Sheeran made sure one thing about Yesterday was done right.

The 7 Female Marvel Characters Who Need Solo 2019-07-03 09:02:17The worldwide moviegoing audience has proven that not only can women carry an entire superhero film by themselves, we WANT to see them do it.

How Spider-Man Far From Home Explains The World 2019-07-03 08:39:33They have a lot of explaining to do.


Disclaimer and Notice:WorldProNews.com is not responsible of these news or any information published on this website.