News | National
13 Jul 2024 19:09
NZCity News
NZCity CalculatorReturn to NZCity

  • Start Page
  • Personalise
  • Sport
  • Weather
  • Finance
  • Shopping
  • Jobs
  • Horoscopes
  • Lotto Results
  • Photo Gallery
  • Site Gallery
  • TVNow
  • Dating
  • SearchNZ
  • NZSearch
  • Crime.co.nz
  • RugbyLeague
  • Make Home
  • About NZCity
  • Contact NZCity
  • Your Privacy
  • Advertising
  • Login
  • Join for Free

  •   Home > News > National

    An homage to the dad joke, one of the great traditions of fatherhood

    Cringe, corny and awkward - what’s not to love?

    Ian Brodie, Professor of Folklore, Cape Breton University, Moira Marsh, Librarian for Anthropology, Folklore and Sociology, Indiana University
    The Conversation


    “Dad, I’m hungry.”

    “Hi, hungry. I’m Dad.”

    If you haven’t been asleep for the past 20 years, you’ll probably recognize this exchange as a dad joke.

    The term dad joke is credited to a June 20, 1987, editorial in the Gettysburg Times. Writer Jim Kalbaugh praised fathers’ telling of groan-inducing jokes to their children – or, importantly, to others in front of their children.

    The practice, Kalbaugh wrote, was “one of the great traditions of fatherhood worth preserving.”

    The term stayed remarkably dormant until the internet age: The first entry in Urban Dictionary was in 2004 by a contributor named Bunny; it debuted on Twitter in 2007; joke compilation books were published under the theme starting in 2013 in the U.K. and 2016 in the U.S.; and the Oxford English Dictionary added it to its entry for “dad” in 2014.

    The popularity of the term speaks to its resonance. But why do so many dads embrace this form of corny joke telling?

    A (beer) league of its own

    To better understand dad jokes, let’s start with what they aren’t.

    As folklorists who study humor, we’re used to analyzing what are called joke cycles: jokes that spread that share the same structure or topic.

    Elephant jokes and light bulb jokes are examples of joke cycles. (How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but the light bulb has to want to change.)

    But dad jokes don’t have a uniform structure. Nor do they center on a specific topic, such as parenting.

    Furthermore, dad jokes are not transgressive; they are not sexist, racist, scatological, profane or political. They punch neither up nor down. For these reasons, they don’t involve any sort of risk of offending people; the dad joke is almost the opposite of stand-up comedy.

    In addition to being “safe,” dad jokes are generally bad, lame, groan-inducing and so forth. But so are plenty of other jokes – all you have to do is turn on the TV and watch a sitcom to find them.

    ‘Daaaaaaad!’

    So, what makes a dad joke a dad joke?

    It might be best to think of the dad joke not as a kind of joke but as a kind of performance, one that involves a teller – the dad – and an audience: his kids, friends of his kids, his spouse.

    Say a family is out to dinner. Over breadsticks, a daughter might say, “Dad, you need a haircut.” Then dad responds with an unexpected punchline: “I usually get them all cut.”

    Abruptly, dad has shifted the mood from casual conversation to joke. Because it’s a harmless quip, no one can recoil in indignation.

    The only rule broken is the taboo against telling a bad joke. The child feels vicarious embarrassment for dad’s display of lameness. For his part, the dad knows perfectly well that it was a poor joke – but he doesn’t care.

    Soft power plays

    There’s a reason they’re called dad jokes and not father jokes.

    “Father” retains the seriousness and stature of a patriarch and all of the power imbalances that accompany it: physical dominance, discipline and dependence. In contrast, “dad” implies affection and care. He’s still a male authority figure, but without the toxicity that patriarchy can often imply.

    We see the dad joke, then, as an occasion for the dad to assert his fatherly privilege over his family and anyone else within earshot.

    It’s a win-win situation for the dad. If the joke gets a laugh, well, good.

    But if the joke doesn’t get a laugh … that’s good, too: Dad has intentionally invited this possibility, which is technically known as “unlaughter” and refers to jokes that create embarrassing and socially awkward situations. In this case, the way he flusters his children is his reward.

    He’s commanding the room, as a patriarch would, but doing so in the gentlest, most playful way possible.

    Telling corny jokes, of course, is not limited to fathers: Most of us are guilty of going for the joke we know will be met with an eye roll and a headshake.

    Dad jokes are comfortable jokes for comfortable situations among friends and family. They might elicit a disapproving glare, but they ultimately bring people closer together.

    They represent a dad at his most annoying, but also at his best: warm, silly and loving.

    The Conversation

    The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

    This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.
    © 2024 TheConversation, NZCity

     Other National News
     13 Jul: A judge has called a Waikato man a coward, after punching his 30-week pregnant partner
     13 Jul: One person has been seriously injured, after a two-vehicle crash involving a car and truck on West Auckland's Lincoln Road
     13 Jul: Police are asking the public for help, after shots were fired at a 70-year-old woman's Whangarei home
     13 Jul: ew electric passenger trains have arrived in Auckland - with more due over the next few weeks
     13 Jul: Confidence leaving public consultation out of Wairoa's flood review wont impact its findings
     13 Jul: In the New Zealand basketball league, the Southland Sharks have beaten the Manawatu Jets 117-110 in Palmerston North
     12 Jul: Emergency services are at Wellington airport where there've been reports of a chemical smell inside a cockpit
     Top Stories

    RUGBY RUGBY
    Any sign of uncertainty from England over the All Blacks' game plan has disappeared, heading into tonight's second test at Eden Park More...


    BUSINESS BUSINESS
    ew electric passenger trains have arrived in Auckland - with more due over the next few weeks More...



     Today's News

    International:
    Ambani son's 'wedding of the year' kicks off with Kardashian sisters, Priyanka Chopra, Nick Jonas, Tony Blair and John Cena 19:07

    Entertainment:
    Khloe Kardashian admitted she "probably" would have tried Ozempic when she was trying every other fad diet 19:04

    Sailing:
    Kiwi wing trimmer Blair Tuke has revealed that planning the optimal build-up for the big SailGP finale has been tricky 18:57

    Accident and Emergency:
    Chances of finding any survivors from a Nepal landslide are fading 18:37

    Entertainment:
    Queen Camilla has named a dog working for a charity after her grandson 18:34

    Netball:
    A clutch home win for the Northern Mystics in the ANZ netball Premiership 18:07

    Entertainment:
    Bob Odenkirk believes being "oddly earnest" led to him losing out on the lead role in 'The Office' 18:04

    Entertainment:
    Kris Jenner has hinted she might get married when she turns 70 next year 17:34

    Law and Order:
    A judge has called a Waikato man a coward, after punching his 30-week pregnant partner 17:27

    Entertainment:
    Prince William "truly" believes homelessness can be "ended" 17:04


     News Search






    Power Search


    © 2024 New Zealand City Ltd