The elation of wordplay. The exhilaration of the one-liner. The delight of knock-knocking on imagined doors. Dads embrace these indulgences one ridiculous pun at a time. Funny jokes are a perk — perhaps the most significant perk — of fatherhood, and groaning isn’t going to make it stop. What’s that you said? You’re annoyed? “Nice to meet you, Annoyed, I’m Dad.” Powerful stuff! It’s easy to malign the dad joke — it’s practically designed to be maligned. But no matter how many times a dad joke stumbles and falls, it pops right back up again full of enthusiasm for its audience and for itself.
What’s in a Dad Joke? A Surprising Amount of Brainpower
From the outside, corny puns or knock-knock jokes may look simple, even purposefully dumb, but they’re also powerful stress-relievers, perspective-givers and attention-redirectors. Most dad jokes, like good riddles, rely on word play, and scientific research suggests that a functional pun — no matter how corny — is an incredibly complex mental feat, requiring the lateral cooperation of both hemispheres of the brain.
For instance, when a dad asks you why you can’t trust atoms or why the man got fired from the orange juice factory, your entire brain stops whatever useful, interesting thing it was doing to handle the fractal complexity of dad humor: The left brain processes the language that makes up the question, while the right brain works to discover the hilarious ambiguity of the punchline. In summary, the successful dad joke causes temporary anguish in the listener, takes over the entire brain, and brings people together.
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