International Dad’s Day

International Women’s Day took place this week. I don’t know if there were people marching in vagina beanies. I try to ignore “popular” movements that sell merchandise on the internet and accept major credit cards for payment. Besides, women already have a month dedicated to them. Now they have a special day. That’s in addition to Why Haven’t You Called Day, otherwise known as Mother’s Day.

But I have identified a truly marginalized group that yearns for liberation, one that has been overlooked historically. I’m talking about dads. We are such an oppressed group that I am declaring Monday, April 1, 2019 as International Dad’s Day (IDD). Notice that it is also April Fools Day, which is a match made in heaven, like killing two birds with one stone. No, I don’t mind mixing metaphors for something as important as this.

Let’s be clear. IDD is not your father’s Father’s Day, to paraphrase an old Oldsmobile ad. It is my hope that IDD will be celebrated in distinctively dad fashion. To wit, you won’t need to buy a penis cap or glasses at an official website. All you will have to do is tell a joke. But not just any joke. It has to be a dad joke. And, surely, you know what a dad joke is. Hint: I just set you up for one (see “Don’t Call Me Shirley”).

As an example, the other day I told my business students that anybody can come up with a big idea. They’re a dime a dozen. “What’s more important than a big idea?” I asked. They stared back, unsure. “As Robespierre said: execution,” I answered. That’s one of my favorite dad jokes. I subject students to it every semester. In fact, it’s such a staple that it may be making the rounds along with the answers to last year’s exams.

Another dad joke I like to tell is the beverage company I founded years ago that went bankrupt. “We were so close,” I tell students. Then I pause for dramatic effect. “It was called 6 Up.” The joke was told to me by my father, whose own misfortune in business was summed up by my mother, who proclaimed to him one day, “If you went into the baby bonnet business, babies would be born without heads!”

Dad jokes are corny, involve wordplay, and–like parables–throw the listener off at the end in one of two ways. Either the listener doesn’t expect such an absurd punchline, or they simply cannot believe the person telling them the joke would stoop so low for a laugh. You see how dad jokes are a lose-lose value proposition, as they say in business school.

There is another characteristic of dad jokes that distinguishes them from every other kind of joke. They are handed down from father to son to grandson and so on. It is not an exaggeration to say that a good dad joke can have a genealogy as long as Jesus’ in the opening of Matthew’s Gospel, which extends for forty-two generations from Abraham to David to Jesus. All right, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you catch my meaning.

Speaking of Abraham, who bore the mark of the covenant between Israel and God on his body, dad jokes function as a modern form of circumcision. Fathers and sons bond through it in ways that mothers and daughters cannot. Think of it as circumcision and bar mitzvah rolled into one, since one has to be of age to tell a dad joke. The analogy breaks down there, however, since to tell a dad joke you actually need to be a dad, and not just any dad but at least one in his forties. That would disqualify most boys who have just had their bar mitzvah.

If I were to write a book about dad jokes, I would call it, The Secret Handbook of Dad Jokes: How to Keep Laughing When Others Are Not. This is perhaps the most noticeable feature of dad jokes. Often, the only one laughing is the dad telling them. This reminds me of the time I unintentionally referred to a soccer scandal in class as a real “kicker.” When I caught the joke, I stamped my foot and howled. The students marveled at how impressed I was with my own wit.

So, let this serve as a call for the dads of the world to unite, rise up, and throw off our shackles. It’s time for us to claim what is ours. We want our own International Dad’s Day. Men, are you with me? Is anyone with me? I now ask all readers to stand for “The Internationale” (below). Play ball!

Haven’t had enough? Go to Robert Brancatelli. Feature photo by chen zo on Unsplash. Groucho disguise by Gratisography on Unsplash. The Brancatelli Blog is a proud member of The Free Media Alliance.

Note: Send me your dad jokes at any time by replying to this post. You know, the ones yearning to breathe free. I will collect them and include them in the post scheduled for Sunday, March 31, 2019, the day before International Dad’s Day.


  1. Robert, I shared your post with my Aunt Laura,90 years plus. She howled with laughter! Better get on with that book! She can’t write, hear, or see much anymore, but a great mind and sense of humor:)

    She wants to subscribe, and I will help her read and write what she says. She loved the jokes! Her name is Laura Peck.

    1. Please let Aunt Laura know that I would be honored to have her as a subscriber. Also, if at any time she is not completely satisfied with the quality of posts or responses she receives, I will personally arrange for a full refund.

  2. Robert, I think that this post will be my favorite:) This is so not only because of your wit, always appreciated, but because I learned and experienced significant items in two areas. At this point, I don’t wish to pass up either:)

    Reading your post, I realized how different growing up might be in a family with brothers and male relatives! All those opportunities for the development of ‘Father Jokes’ , sense of humor, and wit:) How cool that must have been!

    The other area was a bit more bittersweet. This week, my sister sent me a picture of my father. It was a picture I had not seen, taken shortly before his death at 64 years. My sister was thinking about our dad on March 8, the date of his birth. It was a home birth in the tiny steel mill town, North Apollo, PA. The town was a place where most young boys started work in the steel mill at 12 years. My uncle was both postmaster and owned the grocery store.

    I never heard jokes or funny stories from my dad, my grandpa, or really anyone in my family- maternal or paternal:). A loss for sure!

    My father was the only family member to leave North Apollo. Like many young men who served during World War II, the United States expanded well beyond those tiny steel and coal towns.

    My dad was a deeply kind and caring man to anyone who happened to cross his path. From night janitors, secretaries, to the hundreds of men he mentored, the airport baggage checker, to the many who thought of my dad as close friend and supporter. My dad listened and cared about them all; and offered assistance, whatever was needed, typically unknown.

    For all the people who knew and interacted with my father, no one knew that he suffered throughout his life with severe depression. Dad’s work demanded continuous airline travel. When he was at home, usually, at the week ends, he remained in his study, lying on the couch with the door closed. My dad cried… He did not watch television or go to movies. He did not read. He loved to watch football.

    The last time I saw my Dad, I had driven to Las Vegas , where he was speaking at a conference; and seeing “thousands” or so it seemed, long time friends. On arrival, I found my dad and we had coffee for 15 minutes before tons of people sought him out and he had to leave. I drove back to Los Ángeles, sobbing all the way. I knew that I would not see and touch my dad again. I was right.

    This post was important to me, Robert. Thank you so much. Please write that book you mentioned. Yes, I stand with you for April 1st. The only “Father Jokes” I know are the ones you gave us:). Blessings.

    1. Susan, your comments make for a wonderful post by themselves, although they are sad. I am touched that the post meant so much to you that you read it to Aunt Laura.

      I think of posts as “at-bats.” Sometimes you connect, sometimes it’s a swing and a miss. Still, what counts is taking your turn at the plate. Sounds like that’s what you did with your father. You made sure you got to the plate, which is all anyone can do.

      Also, as the father of daughters, one who has made mistakes, I can tell you that we try our best. I’m sure your dad did, too.


  3. Thank you for that Robespierre joke! It briefly stopped my ‘Spring Forward – bah!’ glowering. However, first prize to your Mother for the baby bonnet remark.:-) Happy IDD in advance!

  4. I guess it is not in vogue anymore and extremely politicaly incorrect to rank out on an adversary’s Mother! In more liberated periods it was considered an art form!

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