Dad jokes are a subset of humor that features one-liners that make the audience groan. These are often puns, or plays on words, that fathers all over the world use to elicit eye-rolls from their children and long-suffering spouses. Dad jokes are notoriously cliche and corny, but they can be funny in their own unique way. They are also some of the most accessible forms of comedy, requiring no special set-up or timing to be understood. As a result, it seems like almost anyone can become a dad joke teller.
While researchers don’t fully understand the reason for the popularity of dad jokes, there are some theories as to why these cringe-worthy jokes get a second life on social media and in the family dinner table. For one thing, they can be a form of safe and playful teasing between fathers and their image-conscious, sensitive adolescent children. This teasing can help them develop a higher tolerance for embarrassment, which can be an important developmental skill. It can also help them build resilience against the pain of humiliation, which can be difficult for a child to overcome.
In addition to helping kids learn how to cope with feelings of embarrassment, dad jokes can also be a good way for parents to model the appropriate uses of humour in a given situation. Humour typically violates some kind of behavioural norm, and so when people laugh at these kinds of jokes, it is usually because they feel that the joke is a humorous exception to the rule. Dad jokes are particularly appealing as a form of humour because they do not violate any specific behavioural norms in the same way that fart or other toilet-related jokes may do.
The groans and eye-rolls that accompany these jokes are, in fact, part of what makes them work. They can show that children and adults understand and appreciate the humor of these jokes, which demonstrates to young people that a sense of humour is an acceptable way to interact with others.
And, because dad jokes can be so blatantly bad, they can even have some level of awe and admiration from their audience. So, the next time you hear your dad utter a groan-worthy joke, don’t let him get off too easily. After all, he knows better than anyone else when his jokes are worth the groan.