This guest post comes from James Schloeffel. Take it away James…
Life as a new Dad can be tough. The challenges of balancing work commitments with sleepless nights, nappy changing routines and playgroup appointments are familiar to many men. But what is rarely discussed – openly at least – is the pressure on new dads to be funny.
The ‘Dad Joke’ is now generally accepted as one of the most established and sophisticated genres of humour, particularly in Australia. A well-told Dad Joke not only gives laughter, it can also alleviate domestic tensions and provide comfort for youngsters as they navigate the maze of modern life.
But the implication that new dads somehow become funny overnight is misguided. The Dad Joke genre is complex; it requires skill and practice. New dad’s can become overwhelmed or intimidated by the prospect of mastering the Dad Joke. There are no courses, no mentoring programs and no manuals. Until now.
What follows is a comprehensive guide to the many different forms of Dad Jokes, complete with explanations, examples and tips for making them your own. If you’re a new Dad, it could be just the guidance you need.
This is the first form of the genre that most new dads put into practice. While inherently complex – it requires Dad to skilfully twist the intended meaning of the verb ‘to be’ – with practice it can become an effective part of the Dad Joke arsenal. The gag follows the structure:
CHILD: “Dad, I’m thirsty”
DAD: ”Nice to meet you Thirsty, I’m Dad”
The strength of this form of the Dad Joke is its adaptability to a multitude of situations. It is just as funny when used with “I’m hungry”, “I’m hot” and “I’m finding your jokes annoying”. Perhaps hold back on using this joke with “I’m being bullied at school”.
A slightly modified, but equally clever variation of this form is when your child tells you what he or she wants to eat.
CHILD: “I feel like an ice-cream”
DAD: ”You don’t look like an ice-cream”
The conjured image of a human being in the form of an ice-cream (or can of Coke) is both absurd and unexpected. It’s also very, very funny.
CHILD: “Where are we Dad?”
DAD: “In the car son”.
The genius of this joke is that the punch-line is a statement of truth: you really are in the car. Of course, as Dad well knows (but doesn’t admit to knowing), the child was after a broader geographical definition of location. This surprising switch of interpretation is unanticipated and consequently, more than a little amusing.
When you’ve mastered this basic form, you can move onto more complicated executions such as:
CHILD: “Is there something on my face dad?”
DAD: (A long concentrated look before saying) “Yep, I’ve found it. Your nose”.
“The Word Play”
“The Word Play” is the most versatile form of the Dad Joke and can be adapted to almost any domestic or social situation. In time, dads can use the World Play to carve out their own ‘voice’ and persona.
At the dinner table
MUM: “Eat your peas”
CHILD: “I don’t like peas”
DAD: “All we are saying is give peas a chance!”
DAD: “Exit signs. They’re on the way out!”
At the breakfast table
DAD: “Oh, good morning, here’s the cereal killer!”
“The Word Play (Nationality)”
“The Nationality” is a sub-form of “The Word Play” Dad Joke. It follows the same rules, but focuses entirely on country names. Hilarity ensues.
CHILD: “My new teacher is Russian”
DAD: “Well tell her to slow down then!”
CHILD: “I saw a bike rider crash into a pole today”
DAD: “Don’t worry, he’ll be fine. Those Eastern Europeans are a tough lot.”
CHILD: “Let me know when you finish”
DAD: “I was planning to be Australian for at least the rest of today”
CHILD: “I’m so hungry”
DAD: “I’m so Slovenia” (note the cross-over with “The Classic” Dad Joke form here)
“The Blame Shifter”
This simple but hilarious form of the Dad Joke requires Dad to fart or burp and then blame his wife/partner.
DAD: (after farting or burping) “Oh, honey, please not at the table”.
Only try this joke when children are present at the table.
Don’t forget, practice makes perfect. In fact, as many children will attest, telling the same joke over and over again is very much in keeping with the spirit of Dad Jokes, so keep at it. And remember, if it’s all too hard and you need to take a break or you feel like a cup of warm peppermint tea, well, you don’t look like one.
James Schloeffel is a freelance writer…check out his website here.
Big thanks to SMH too for allowing us to use James’ work.