Dad joke

Timothy King’s grandson is 7 and enamored with skeletons.

So King told him the joke about skeletons.

“How do skeletons call one another?” he asked. “They use the tele-bone.”

Guffaw. Roll your eyes. Slowly shake your head. Swap your laugh for the bark of a seal lion.

It is Father’s Day, and perhaps there is no better time than today to delight in just how endearingly corny dad jokes can be.

“I’m always keeping my ears open for dad jokes,” King said. “I was reading about a conspiracy theory regarding two single beds. But it’s been debunked. I like that one.”

“I would say about 75% of dad jokes are probably puns, play on words. And then you have the other kinds of jokes that are just meant to annoy more than anything. … ‘Hey, dad. I’m hungry.’ ‘Hi, hungry. I’m dad,’ ” King said with a chuckle.

He started out practicing his dad jokes on his daughters years ago. They would react just as kids should to their dad’s humor, he said.

“Groan and roll their eyes and then they go back and tell someone else,” he said. “That’s the sign of a good dad joke.”

King is now working on his grandsons, who are still pretty young. Even dad jokes require a certain comprehension level with vocabulary and an understanding of culture, he said.

His oldest grandson is finally understanding more of King’s jokes, thus the one about skeletons.

“He’s gotten to the point where he wants a joke book,” King said. “I’m slowly corrupting him.”

And while he waits for all his grandsons to catch on to dad jokes, “my coworkers are my targets,” he said.

King works at Barnes and Noble Booksellers in Grand Junction, and “there is no bad time for a dad joke as far as I’m concerned.”

That may mean a dad joke directed at a younger coworker, or even a customer.

The other day King was at the check- out counter and a customer put down a crossword puzzle book.

“You look puzzled,” King said.

The customer gave him a confused look, then smiled.

“They’re just kind of light little quips that I share around every now and again. I think it lightens the moment, lightens the mood. Things are pretty serious around the world today,” King said.

The intent of dad jokes is really quite selfless, said Emilie Stickley, co-founder of Joke Junction, a local group of stand-up comedians.

Comedy and jokes are about making people laugh, and with a dad joke in particular, “you’re showcasing that you don’t take yourself too seriously and you’re trying to lighten the mood,” said Stickley, who has been doing stand-up comedy for about seven years, ever since a coworker told her she was funny and should try it.

When it comes to stand-up comedy, though, dad jokes are regarded as the low-hanging fruit, she said.

But then “the low-hanging fruit is often the most ripe,” she said. “I would say dad jokes are punny one-liners.”

“I don’t tell dad jokes per se, but the structure of a dad joke is pretty popular,” she said.

There’s no developed beginning, middle and end. It’s just a set up and a punchline, and nearly always a pun.

“What kind of gum do ghosts chew?” she asked. “Boo-ble gum!”

Or a dad might throw in a structural variation: “Oh, I wondered why the baseball was getting closer. And then it hit me.”

“I love a good dad joke,” Stickley said.

“A dad joke is a cheesy joke that is appropriate and still results in, you know, uncontrollable giggles,” said Shelton Holmes, co-founder of Joke Junction.

“I very rarely use them in conversation,” he said, then admitted to telling dad jokes at times in his own stand-up routines, but only when he can use one to set up something a little bit darker.

Besides, there’s about a bazillion dad jokes out there.

“What do you call seagulls flying over a bay?” he asked. “They’re bay-gulls.”

“When shotgun shells get married, what do they have? BBs.”

“Standard stuff,” Holmes said. “I think they are important. Dads need to express themselves artfully, too. Even if it’s horrible for everyone else involved.”

His own dad tells dad jokes “all the time and he sets them up with any mundane situation,” Holmes said.

For example, his dad will casually mention that he’s reading a book. It happens to be titled “Yellow River.” Have you heard of it?


“Well, the author is I.P. Freely.”

Or there’s the book “Look Over A Cliff” by Eileen Over.

Sometimes his dad will concoct a random joke, and then suggest Holmes use it in a set. “They’re brutal,” Holmes said.

So, instead of using his dad’s jokes, he tells jokes about his dad. “My dad was a professional puppeteer when I was growing up, so I have quite a bit of material,” Holmes said.

Stickley’s dad, on the other hand, didn’t tell jokes while she was growing up. He told funny stories. “Most of them were weird, off-the-wall things,” she said.

But they did result in the same kind of an eye-roll and dramatic, “OK, Daaad,” she said.

Similarly, King’s dad really didn’t tell “dad jokes.” But then “dad jokes have been around for centuries. I think just recently they’ve made it into the pop culture as something that is a thing,” King said.

The bookstore where he works carries whole books packed with dad jokes, and “I’ve collected books in my library on dad jokes and puns,” he said.

One of those books is “The Pun Also Rises” by John Pollack.

In his book, Pollack goes through the history of puns and apparently William Shakespeare, according to the author, “is full of puns the equivalent of dad jokes,” King said. “So my theory is that telling a dad joke is right up there with quoting Shakespeare.”

So to that end: “I heard that people are getting de-quilled porcupines for pets,” King said. “But I think that’s pointless.”