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That’s Punny: Why Dad Jokes are Serious Fun

Love ‘em or loathe ‘em, dad jokes serve a higher porpoise. Er, purpose.

If you find that hard to believe – and you probably do, unless you’re a dad – then trust me, I get it. My husband deals dad jokes regularly and without apology. Here’s one he shared recently:

Q: How do strawberries party?
A: They pump up the jam.

Sadly, our kids missed this one. But I guarantee that if they’d been around, the joke would’ve evolved into a full-blown performance of the famous Technotronic song, with dance moves.

Which would’ve elicited a look of disdain from our 17-year-old daughter and a comment about being “so cringy” from our 12-year-old son. (This comes from a kid who wears orange Crocs with knee-high socks and shorts every day.)

Their responses only encourage my husband. In his eyes, any reaction is a win – from a giggle to an eye roll to a full-on groan. He gets plenty of each at our house. Just don’t ask him to dish out dad jokes on demand. Apparently, they are as spontaneous as their source is mysterious:

“I don’t bring the puns, Denise. The puns come to me.”

Here’s the thing. Contrary to what most kids (and many adults) believe, dad jokes aren’t necessarily lame and uncool. Puns especially can be quite smart and witty.

“They can be a demonstration of wit, of cleverness,” says Peter McGraw, director of the Humor Research Lab at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “You’re relying on a person’s ability to parse language, to understand the nuances and complexities of words.”

And, more importantly, the lowly dad joke plays a surprisingly positive role in parenting. According to humor researcher Mark Hye-Knudsen, dad jokes teach kids to be more resilient.

“It is worth considering dad jokes as a pedagogical tool that may serve a beneficial function for the very children who roll their eyes at them. By continually telling their children jokes that are so bad that they’re embarrassing, fathers may push their children’s limits for how much embarrassment they can handle. They show their children that embarrassment isn’t fatal.”

So, we should probably give dads a break. After all, they’re sharing their best material.

For the kids’ sake, of course.




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