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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by Academic Studies Press January 12, 2022

Dad Jokes and the Deep Roots of Fatherly Teasing

  • Marc Hye-Knudsen

Abstract

Dad jokes, I argue, are a manifestation of a much older fatherly impulse to tease one’s children. On the surface, dad jokes are puns that are characterized by only violating a pragmatic norm and nothing else, which makes them lame and unfunny. Only violating a pragmatic norm and nothing else, however, is itself a violation of the norms of joke-telling, which makes dad jokes a type of anti-humor. Fathers (i.e., “dads”) may in turn seek to embarrass their children by purposively violating the norms of joke-telling in this way, thus weaponizing the lame pun against their children as a type of good-natured teasing. Given their personality profile, it makes sense that fathers should be particularly prone to weap­onize dad jokes teasingly against their children like this, with the phenomenon bearing an illuminating resemblance to the rough-and-tumble play that fathers have engaged their children in since before the dawn of our species.

Published Online: 2022-01-12
Published in Print: 2021-12-01

© 2022 by Academic Studies Press

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