Dad jokes are the worst kind of humour, eliciting groans from those around them and spawning an entire genre of comedy (with its own Wikipedia page, an addition to the Mirriam-Webster dictionary, and numerous Reddit pages). Yet they also reveal something important about humour, fatherhood, and the way our society perceives and judges fathers.
Dads love to tease their kids, and telling them a bad pun is one of the most effective ways to do so. Dad jokes resemble the rough-and-tumble play that fathers have been instinctively moved to engage their children in since before the dawn of our species, and they can help reinforce the development of a sense of shared identity and the positive aspects of being part of a family.
A resurgence of interest in this particular subset of humour is reflected by the popularity of dad joke books that have recently emerged, as well as the resurgence of stand-up comedians who traffic in the jokes. This new genre of humour, with its inoffensive puns and deconstruction of pragmatic norms surrounding humor itself, might be just what the doctor ordered.
As for the groans that accompany these jokes, Hye-Knudsen suggests that they teach children that embarrassment is not always fatal. Moreover, she argues, they teach a very different kind of tolerance for the kinds of social pressures that might impede our authenticity. This, too, is a valuable lesson in adolescence. For these reasons, the next time someone tells you a bad dad joke, take a deep breath and remember that this sort of humour is not just to be laughed at but understood. bad dad jokes