I’m a father. At least I hope I am, or else I’ve been victim to a very long and costly practical joke. Recently I was thinking about that role and so naturally got to thinking about Dad Jokes. You know, Dad Jokes. Perhaps your own father does them. Those weak, oft repeated little quips, pranks and sayings they trot out to try and raise a giggle or two.
I don’t do those, I thought. All my japes are grade A comedy gold. I commented as such to my son, Little Bloke, and he looked at me as if I were an idiot. He’s only 10, but he withered me with a look far beyond his years. ‘Of course you do dad jokes!’ He said.
It set me thinking. I suppose I do. There’s one I do where I pretend my left hand has filled with helium and, unnoticed by myself, it starts to float up to the ceiling. It takes multiple hilarious attempts to bring it back down and eventually piercing with a fork, where upon it flaps round the table like a burst balloon. Hilarious! Or there’s the clever word play where, whenever anyone asks ‘Have you seen my….’ I reply. ‘Oh yes, it’s lovely.’
I could go on, but I fear you’d not be able to read them all with those tears of laughter in your eyes. Okay, I’ll admit they aren’t the most original and groundbreaking comedy, but you know. through the eye rolling I still get a laugh. It’s grudgingly given but it is there.
It got me thinking about the nature of Dad jokes and, I think at its heart the phenomena is actually rather lovely. The level of comedy is usually rather juvenile and basic, exactly what it takes to make a toddler laugh. And, as a caring dad, I like to make my son laugh. I like to see him happy. For a few years now our household has been in the ‘traditional model’. I am out at work for twelve hours a day and only see him for a couple of hours in the evening. I’m usually tired and grumpy, he’s usually just grumpy. But a bit of japery at the dinner table will still raise a smirk.
And I think that’s the important point. A joke or prank, that’s so old it’s almost painful to hear again, but still makes you laugh. It is fixed on a whole lifetime of a father trying to make you laugh, trying to make you happy. A father who repeats those jokes is still trying to make you happy even if they make you groan and squirm with embarrassment when performed in front of friends.
And who knows, perhaps one day, Little Bloke will do similar jokes with his own children, to show he loves them. I don’t fancy his chances of finding a suitable partner though, after all, I’ve still got his nose.