Whether they’re used to lighten the mood or simply make children giggle, funny dad jokes are a classic form of humor that can make anyone smile. They’re the corny puns and one-liners that fathers all over the world love to tell their kids—and everyone else groans at. But while some might dismiss these cheesy jokes as inherently terrible, they’re actually a fascinating phenomenon. They reveal a lot about how humour works and about fathers’ psychology and their relationships with their children.
The key to dad jokes is the way in which they violate norms of joke-telling. Normally, when someone shifts to the humorous mode of discourse, it’s because they have something genuinely funny to say. But a dad joke is often so lame, so unfunny, and so embarrassing that it becomes, ironically, funny.
And despite their groans and eye-rolls, parents should keep telling their kids these bad jokes. After all, they may serve a pedagogical function for the children who begrudgingly listen to them. By repeatedly telling a joke that’s so embarrassingly bad, they may be pushing their children to see how much embarrassment they can handle—and perhaps helping them develop some resilience as they prepare for the rigours of adolescence.