Once your kid stops laughing at “Why didn’t Han Solo enjoy his steak dinner? It was Chewie!” you know it’s time to move on.
I still remember the first time I told my then-six-year-old son, Lev, that a clam makes calls with its “shell phone.” The laugh of recognition when he first got the joke was a moment I won’t ever forget. When I told it a second time in front of his friends Henry and Amir, I could see how proud he was that I had made his friends laugh. Excuse the bragging, but I was the cool dad.
When the kids outgrow the dad jokes
By Lev’s ninth birthday party, things had begun to change. After the seventh or eighth time I asked him “What do you call someone with no body and no nose?” he dismissively rolled his eyes. “I get it, Dad…”
“Stop it, Dad!”
I immediately shifted gears into food puns, reminding him and his friends that melons have weddings because they “cantaloupe,” but I got nothing except head shakes and averted eyes. I’m pretty sure I heard him say “Sorry about my dad” to his friends as they all ran off to play on their phones together.
Dale May for Reader's Digest
I used to be the life of every kids party. When I was only an uncle, all the toddlers loved my “got your nose” bit. I was the one who always had a knock-knock joke at the ready. (Knock, knock. Who’s there? Nobel. Nobel who? Nobel, so I knock-knocked.) Other parents loved that I could show up at any event and distract their kids with age-appropriate, groan-worthy wordplay, such as the ever popular “Did you hear about the guy who froze to death at the drive-in? He went to see Closed for the Winter.”
Sure, there were other dads with their bits, but I felt as if no one ever stole my crown. My wife long ago tuned me out, but she knew that my never-ending quest for laughter from kids, no matter how unashamed, was in my blood. I believe as the kids got older, they took their cues to be embarrassed by me from their mom’s head-shaking disdain. We’re working through the issue.
Ready to pass the torch
I tell you all this because after a lot of soul searching, I believe it’s time. My kids aren’t grown and out of the house, but I’ve come to realize that I’ll never be able to compete with my past success. I need our relationship to grow. I need to be able to talk to my children about topics other than how a witch’s car goes “broom, broom.”
Thus, I’m offering my entire catalog of jokes for sale on the open market. Puns, threatening tickling bits, knock-knock jokes, goofy faces, fart noises not from my butt, double takes, and even borderline inappropriate spit-take lines. I’m done with them all, and it feels like the right time to sell my legacy to some deserving new dad.
The catalog includes my most famous work—including my killer aside at my days-old nephew’s bris: “After my bris, I couldn’t walk for like a year!” And my faux-indignant kindergarten-graduation routine: “Well, now he better get himself a job!”
I could go on.
As with all great works of art, my collection is priceless. But I can tell you that the first time you get your toddler to laugh at the line “I don’t trust stairs. They’re always up to something,” you’ll feel it’s worth any price tag.
If you’re looking to make your kids laugh—even if they’re grown—try out some of these dad jokes.
From mcsweeneys.net. Why I’m Selling my Catalog of Dad Jokes by Gary Rudoren © 2021.