What Is A Dad Joke?

dad joke

I wrote a clean joke book. It almost killed me. Figuratively. During the book writing process, I remember the editor saying in several email conversations to “concentrate on the dad joke.”

Sure. That’s easy enough. But first, please explain, “what the hell is a dad joke?!?”

I mean I know what people consider to be the hallmarks of a dad joke. Short. Punny. Usually told hundreds of times but in a way that makes it sound like it’s the first time. But what exactly classifies a joke as a dad joke? Is it the age of the joke teller? Does a joke automatically become a dad joke if the man telling it is over 40? What if a woman or teen boy tells the same joke? Is it still a “dad joke”?

Are all of my post-it notes dad jokes? I’m a father. They’re humorous. Are they automatically lumped along with other eye-rollers like “What time did the man go to the dentist? Tooth hurt-y.”

What Is A Dad Joke?

“I think a dad joke,” explains Daniel Kibblesmith, “and just to be clear, “dad joke” gets thrown around a lot more, but there’s no shortage of moms doing this kind of material — has to be groan-inducing. Right from the get-go, you’re not looking for a laugh. It’s a weird combination of wanting attention, but setting yourself up to fail.”

Kibblesmith is an expert on joke writing. It’s how he makes his living. He’s a writer on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and author of the hilarious and heartwarming new book Santa’s Husband. Offering a fresh twist on Kris Kringle, Santa’s Husband is a clever yet heartfelt book that tells the story of a black Santa, his white husband, and their life in the North Pole. With a book like that, it’s obvious Kibblesmith has a sense of humor.

Kibblesmith and I broke down the intricacies of dad jokes and exactly what makes this type of humor both loved and loathed.

“It doesn’t have to be a pun, but given the general acceptance of puns as groaners, it’ go-to. You can also play dumb about something, in a way that is so deadpan that it doesn’t land as a joke and you’re actually inconveniencing someone. My favorite dad joke oft-performed by my dad is whenever the server in a restaurant sets down the bread in front of him, he says, “I didn’t order this.” Get it? No one ORDERS the bread!”

The prototypical dad joke also occasionally creeps its way into Kibblesmith’s day job.

“Stephen Colbert is a real Capital D “Dad,” so I think he makes them work, but they’re usually more like incredibly self-indulgent puns, that have — on occasion — been known to trigger a disembodied hand reaching up from beneath the desk to high-five him afterward.” 

While not yet a father Kibblesmith is already in training when the day arrives.

“Just this weekend, my wife and I were at the airport. I asked her what gate we were going to, and she said ‘C-8.’ I replied, ‘Go Fish.’ The worst part is that I wasn’t even thinking of the right game, I probably meant to say, ‘You sunk my Battleship.’ So yeah, I’m ready to be a parent.”


21 Best Dad Jokes (That I’ve Heard)

My wife accused me of hating her family and relatives. I replied, “No, I don’t hate your relatives. In fact, I like your mother-in-law a lot better than I like mine.”

My friend keeps saying “cheer up man it could be worse, you could be stuck underground in a hole full of water.” I know he means well.

What is Beethoven’s favorite fruit? A ba-na-na-na.

A termite walks into a bar and asks, “Is the bar tender here?”

Did you hear about the circus fire? It was in tents!

My daughter screeched, “Daaaaaad, you haven’t listened to one word I’ve said, have you!?” What a strange way to start a conversation with me.

I told my son I was named after Thomas Jefferson. He said, “But dad, your name is Brian.” I said, “I know, but I was named AFTER Thomas Jefferson.”

Why do chicken coops only have two doors? Because if they had four, they would be chicken sedans.

The secret service isn’t allowed to yell “Get down!” anymore when the president is about to be attacked. Now they have to yell “Donald, duck!”

A woman is on trial for beating her husband to death with his guitar collection. Judge says, ‘First offender?’ She says, ‘No, first a Gibson! Then a Fender.

I’ll call you later. Don’t call me later, call me Dad.

Why did the Clydesdale give the pony a glass of water? 
Because he was a little horse.

My wife caught me standing on the bathroom scale, sucking in my stomach. “Ha­­! That’s not going to help,” she said. “Sure, it does,” I said. “It’s the only way I can see the numbers.”

How do you make a Kleenex dance? Put a little boogie in it.

Dad died due to us not being able to remember his blood type. As he died, he kept insisting that we “be positive”, but it’s hard without him.

Don’t trust atoms. They make up everything!

WAITRESS: “Soup or salad?” DAD: “I don’t want a SUPER salad, I want a regular salad.”

What kind of shoes do ninjas wear? Sneakers.

Did you hear about the guy who invented Lifesavers? They say he made a mint.

Did you get a haircut? No, I got them all cut.

I stayed up all night wondering where the sun had gone. And then it dawned on me.

Alright, I know you have one, so let’s hear it. Leave your best dad joke in the comments, and if it makes me laugh, I’ll add it to the list AND send you a copy of Daniel Kibblesmith’s new book Santa’s Husband.


2 Comments on “What Is A Dad Joke?”

  1. My wife and I had not been married long when I started a dumb gag. While watching TV together, the announcer would say, “The following program is close-captioned for the hearing impaired.”
    I asked her, “What did he say?”
    “He said, ‘The following pro…….Oh, YOU!”
    When the next program came on, she’d fall for it again. And the next. She would laugh or throw a pillow.

    She was thinking of that dumb gag when friends came to visit and meet her for the first time. We were setting up a picnic in the park when she asked, “You want to know what Jim’s favorite thing to do to me is?”
    My friend immediately replied, “Marilyn, please, there are children present!”
    That laugh was WAY better than her tattle-tale story would have gotten.

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