This article appeared in the June 19, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Father’s Day, dad jokes, and embarrassing your kids

Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff/File
Bill Zamzow reads to his four-year-old daughter, Jacqueline, at the Quincy Public Library in Massachusetts.
Peter Grier
Washington editor

A rabbit, a priest, and a minister walk into a bar. The bartender looks at them and says, “Is this a typo?” 

Get it? Usually this kind of joke starts off with a rabbi, but it’s a rabbit, so maybe it’s a mistake, and the bartender thinks that, but it isn’t! Come on, it’s funny. 

It’s also a dad joke, the kind of groaner that families all across the United States will be subjected to on Father’s Day Sunday.

This particular example comes from the “Bad Dad Jokes” sign in front of Tom and Ann Schruben’s home in Maryland.

Tom Schruben posts a new bad dad joke every day. He started the practice as a way to brighten moods during the coronavirus shutdown. It’s become a popular destination for locals out for a walk and a chuckle.

Badness is the point of dad jokes, of course. As Mr. Schruben pointed out recently in The Washington Post, fathers are expected to embarrass their children.

Years ago, reading “Tintin” to my own boys, I would adopt voices for the characters, like I was Jim Dale reading Harry Potter audiobooks.

But I’m not Jim Dale. The boys would clap their hands over their ears and shriek, “No voices, Dad! No voices!”

As for bad jokes, I’ve written about them before, about their power to distract and nurture us, for a moment.

And bad jokes can be serious. You can laugh and nod knowingly at the same time.

Here’s another Schruben favorite: What’s the biggest room in the world? Room for improvement.

For Father’s Day, the Schrubens are running a bad dad joke contest, with entries costing $5, and proceeds going to Martha’s Table, a D.C.-based nonprofit that supports children and families. The winner gets posted on the sign – and the right to embarrass their kids for months to come.

This article appeared in the June 19, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 06/19 edition
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