"Dad joke" has become a synonym for cheesy, groan-worthy humor, but we think that's unfair. Dad humor is actually a very specific and sophisticated sub-genre of comedy
, from one-liners ("You make a better door than a window!") to full-out bits like always pretending to give you the check after an expensive meal
, even when you're 10 and have no allowance.
There are overriding principles of dad humor but no real rules, except that you've gotta be a dad, and your children must find your jokes extremely annoying. For this holiday season, we've collected Asylum staffers' and contributors' reminiscences on the best jokes from dear old Dad.
One of the basics of dad humor is pretending to take everything really literally. For example, every time I told my dad I didn't feel well as a child, he'd put his hand on my shoulder and go, "You feel just fine to me!"
When ordering food at a restaurant with my wife and two girls, I find it infinitely hilarious to take all their plates and ask sincerely, "What are you going to eat?" Even if the only reaction I get is rolling eyes, I know I did my job as a corny dad.
My mom and dad just celebrated 61 years together. When congratulated, my father is quick to respond, "Yep. And 55 of 'em were happy! Not bad, out of 61."
Dad walks in the door from work, says, "Hey Mike, does your face hurt? 'Cuz it's killin' me."
Every once in a while, on family trips -- and my dad would save these so as not to overuse them -- we'd cross some railroad tracks and my dad would say, "Train's just been through here." One of my sisters would invariably respond, snottily, "Um, how do you know?" to which the old man would smile and say, "It left its tracks." My brother and I would laugh, and the girls would groan because they fell for it, again.
Phone call joke. Dad answers. Person calling: "Is Greg around?" Dad: "No, Greg's a square."
My all-time favorite from my dad, which he would bust out around Christmas, birthdays or pretty much any holiday: Dad: "What kind of present do you want?" Me: "I don't know." Dad: "I was going to get you a new butt, because yours is cracked. But then you'd just sit down and crack it again." Me: Groan.
Dad: "Would you like some food?" Me: "I'm good." Dad: "I know you're good, but would you like some food?"
The year was 2000. The place: the lobby of my local movie theater. My parents and I walked out of "X-Men" or some other quality summer blockbuster, and my dad noticed the poster for "Bring It On," featuring Kirsten Dunst and Gabrielle Union in tiny cheerleading outfits. "Why didn't that movie come out on Father's Day?" he asked. And then I went and took a shower for nine years.
Every time a friend called and would ask, "Can I speak to Erin?" he'd reply, "Yes, you can." I learned a lot about my friends by which ones eventually caught on that he was looking for "May I?"
If any of my siblings tried to accuse my stepdad of farting, he would always give them a knowing look and say, "A skunk sniffs its own hole." This was so confusing that it usually shut everybody up while they tried to figure out what he was saying.
Tell us what groaners your own dad used to unleash upon you as a child in the comments.