So Father’s Day is rolling through the USA again, and I got to wondering… Dads are famous for telling the kind of jokes that make you groan with their abundant dorkiness, but does that cringe-worthiness cross countries and oceans? Are all dads a bit lame when it comes to mirth making?
I wanted to know whether the papas, babas, paters, otecs, vaters and vaders around the world were pulling the same terrible puns on their unsuspecting kids. As part of this piece of serious journalism I discovered a Guardian article that had uncovered a fair slew of international offenders. It turns out that no matter where you are in the world, dads are making dad jokes. I wish I could say that I was surprised.
What makes it a ‘dad joke’?
Well the first thing I found is that the joke has to be bad. If you’re laughing out loud at a dad joke, chances are your papa picked it up somewhere else.
Another finding is that obvious statements with an obvious answer are the stomping ground of the dad joke. If you’ve ever turned to your dad and asked, ‘What is there to eat?’ and he’s replied ‘Food!’ then you’re not alone. In Spain you’d be asking ‘¿Qué hay de comer?’ with the chortled reply, ‘Comida.’ Ugh, Dad!
In France you might say to your Papa, ‘Papa, je suis affamé,’ (Dad, I’m hungry), to which he would take great pleasure in responding, ‘Heureux de te rencontrer affamé. Je suis Papa.’ Yep, that’s the classic – ‘Nice to meet you hungry, I’m dad,’ line. This one is proliferated all over the world, and you cannot escape it.
Speaking of Hungary (oh god, dad jokes are contagious) – a typical joke you might hear from Hungarian dads goes something like this:
Q: What do you call a man who wakes up early in the morning, wears a white apron, bakes bread, but is not a baker?
A: No, it is a baker!
Don’t worry, we don’t get it either.
Dad jokes seem to draw a lot of leverage from words that can be pronounced similarly but take on a different meaning. Basically, the homonym is the best friend of the dad joke. Recently I was inspecting my new garden with my dad, and I had transplanted a sage bush from one side of the garden to the other. My father remarked that my mother – who had helped me with the gardening – must have given me some ‘sage advice’ about how to replant the shrub. I groaned, he guffawed.
Dads in Sweden will try to make you laugh after a meal by asking, ‘Är du mätt?’ which means, ‘Are you full?’ but it can also mean being tall or being measured. So when the unsuspecting child answers, ‘Ja.’ The dad will pounce and ask, ‘Så hur lång var du?’ which means, ‘How tall are you?’ Ugh. DAD!
There are also examples all over the world of dads using the bare minimum of humour to get a few laffs, like this Welsh joke: ‘Beth yw mochyn sy’n gwneud carate? Porc tsiop!’ Which means: What do you call a pig who does karate? A pork chop.
On my exploration of dad jokes of the world I uncovered gags which were just plain odd – like this French pun:
There are two eggs in a fridge.
One says to the other: “Hey, you’re quite hairy for an egg.”
The other replies: “But I am a kiwi.”
And I discovered that there’s a certain level of deadpan delivery that dads seem to have nailed, along with a self-satisfied smirk that lingers long after the cries of displeasure have faded, as the dad enjoys his humour.
If you live in Norway and have ever asked your dad for some toast (ristet brød) to go with your Nutella you would have been in trouble, as the word for “toast” and “shake” are the same, so guess what dad would have done with your bread? Shaken it. Classic dad.
A couple of Norway’s dad jokes might just leave you scratching your head:
Two whales are sitting at a bar. One of them suddenly says: “Mmmwaamm!”
The second whale looks over and says: “Woa man, you’re drunk.”
I found that dads might try and make you walk into a bad pun, like this Brazilian Portuguese number:
Do you know the joke of “no me neither”?
It does have to be said that there are some genuinely amusing jokes, and this Mexican joke isn’t too bad:
What did the green grape say to the purple grape?
Oh my God, breathe!
And yes, this Hebrew one isn’t too shabby either:
A Jewish woman gets up mid-flight to the US and shouts: “Is there a doctor here?” A nice, serious guy approaches her quickly and tells her: “I am. What is the problem?” She replies: “Do you want to meet my daughter?”
Well, thanks to dads we have a legacy of ridiculously bad puns to pass down for all eternity, and no matter where you travel to in the world, you’re bound to find dads pulling out the best and the worst of their repertoire to try and elicit some laughs. My advice? Don’t fight it.
I’ll leave you with this joke from my childhood:
‘Dad, can you make me a sandwich?’ (Dad waves hands enthusiastically in the air)
‘Abracadabra, you are now a sandwich.’*
Happy Father’s Day, everyone.
*If you laughed, you may be a dad.
Feature image c/o Gatanass, Flickr