There are more ways to convey humor than you can shake a stick at, but one of the most common is the dad joke: the bad pun or the question and answer with the unfunny punchline. Whether they elicit groans or eye-rolls, these cringeworthy jokes are often met with a collective sigh and a “that was so lame” from the audience.
It would be easy to dismiss dad jokes as just a low-hanging fruit that nobody gets, but when examined closely, they reveal a much more complicated, and intriguing, phenomenon. In fact, they may serve a pedagogical function for the very children who roll their eyes at them. By continually telling them jokes that are so bad that they are embarrassing, fathers may be pushing their children’s boundaries for how much embarrassment they can handle, and teaching them to toughen up.
The fact that dad jokes are often based on puns also explains why they are so easily dismissed as lame and unfunny, since puns are usually a low-grade form of humor in terms of their humorous force. However, the stale puns and goofy questions that make up these jokes are also quite good for us: Laughter decreases stress hormone levels and increases infection-fighting antibodies and immune cells, which can reduce your risk of heart disease, while also releasing endorphins that promote physical and emotional well-being. bad dad jokes