“Don’t Call Me Shirley”

I have proclaimed Monday, April 1, 2019, as International Dad’s Day. In celebration of such a festive occasion, you, dear readers, have sent me dad jokes. I am most appreciative. These jokes have been impressive, coming from places as far apart as Syracuse, New York and New Caledonia in the South Pacific. Honestly, I didn’t know I had readers in the South Pacific, which shows you how much I know.

A note about the submissions. I discounted knock-knock jokes, which, although funny in an avuncular way, form a separate genre. I may run a Knock-Knock Joke Off (n.b., that’s joke off) in the future, but not now. Also, I eliminated lengthy, complicated, and obscene jokes since, these, too, belong to other genres. Finally, I received two shaggy dog stories, one about an actual shaggy dog (a bearded collie), which I found funny but not exactly within the dad joke category.

So, what is a dad joke? It is a simple, often silly, observation about life or play on words. Think of it as a dad koan or haiku. Puns form a vast subset within the dad joke universe. The intellectual level of such jokes is approximately seventh grade. Still, dad jokes sit higher in the humor hierarchy than fart jokes even though there may be occasional overlap. This is especially true if the dad in question is wont to say things like, “There’s something rotten in the state of Denmark.” Fart jokes, incidentally, appear to be universal. Everyone laughs at them, even in New Caledonia.

Without further hairdo, I present some of the memorable dad jokes submitted for International Dad’s Day. Get your whoopee cushion ready.

  • Did you hear about Isaac Newton’s brother, Fig?
  • Two data analysts meet. “It was so warm yesterday that I went to the beach.” “Really? Where did you go?” “The Data Beach.”
  • A guy named Joe Turd goes to court to have his name changed. The judge says, “I don’t blame you. With a name like that, I’d change it, too. What do you want it changed to?” “Bill.”
  • A woman calls the law firm of Walsh, Walsh, Walsh, and Walsh. “May I speak to Mr. Walsh?” “Sorry, he’s retired.” “How about Mr. Walsh?” “He’s out of town.” “Then how about Mr. Walsh?” “Sorry, he’s with a client.” “And Mr. Walsh?” “Speaking.”
  • What do you call the head of a group of beta testers? The Master Beta.
  • Man argues with a Russian named Rudolph about the weather. The wife pulls him aside and says, “I wouldn’t do that. Don’t you know that Rudolph the Red knows rain, dear?”
  • And, finally, I received a lewd limerick about flying that ended with “Titty Hawk.”

As a dad and granddad, I feel I owe it to the dads of the world to explain the function and importance of dad jokes, which are too easily dismissed by the insensitive and roguish. You dads know what I am talking about. How often has your carefully delivered punch line been met with groans and a roll of the eyes? How often have you had to walk away in shame but with head held high?

Let this be a warning to those who would roll their eyes at the proverbial drop of a hat (sometimes the only way to drive home a metaphor is to mix it). The eye roll, unlike the egg roll, is evil, a destroyer of egos, marriages, and stand-up routines. It should not be used under any circumstances. It is the nuclear option, not unlike calling someone a Nazi. There’s no going back.

The function of dad jokes, if you haven’t caught on by now, is to demonstrate how foolish either you or the situation you have created for yourself is. It puts things in perspective in a way that CNN, for instance, cannot. As a matter of fact, there ought to be a channel of dad jokes.

How important are dad jokes? If we didn’t have them and their physical equivalent–think of a father coloring a Hitler mustache on his toddler with his wife’s mascara–we just might be running around in anxiety and rage, shaking our fists at the uncertainty of life. Wait a minute…

Feature image by Gratisography. Dog by Braydon Anderson on Unsplash. First flight by NASA (no known copyright restrictions). Note to self: “I may be a man of fairly wide reading, but I retain nothing,” Michel de Montaigne (1533-92). Want more? Go to Robert Brancatelli. The Brancatelli Blog is a member of The Free Media Alliance. This post is dedicated to my dad, Arthur Brancatelli (1933-2014).


  1. Thank you, Robert, I really enjoyed your post. I was thinking of all the oral history, culture and philosophy summed up in these “dad jokes.” As a lover of cultural folk tales, fables, sayings, dreams and such, I can’t help wondering about the existence of “dad jokes” in other cultures. Fun to think about the first time some of the jokes were told and the stories behind them:)

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