Dad jokes are a specific type of humorous joke, typically in the form of a pun, often inexplicable or absurd. They are commonly groan-inducing and only viewed as funny by the tellers themselves, but have gained significant popularity as a result of memes, websites (such as r/dadjokes), and TikTok videos dedicated to them.
The stereotypical scene associated with the jokes involves a father telling a pun to his children, who then roll their eyes in annoyance or cringe in embarrassment. As such, they may seem to be a form of passive-aggressive humour or a way for parents to connect with their children. However, research shows that children are not only able to appreciate and understand these types of jokes, but they also enjoy hearing them from their fathers.
In fact, studies show that children who are exposed to more dad jokes actually have better linguistic and cognitive development than those not exposed to them. This is because dad jokes help children develop a sense of humour that relies on the unexpected, and that is less based on sarcasm or coarse language.
The reason why dad jokes are so popular is partly because they allow fathers to play rough with their children, which is a common way of interacting and connecting with them. By teasing and challenging their children, fathers teach them to cope with negative emotions and withstand minor attacks on their egos. Dad jokes are therefore a type of ‘weaponised anti-humour’, which is used to tease, annoy, and embarrass them in a non-bullying way.