It’s not easy being funny

Allison Tait blog
Posted on November 28, 2010

A little while ago, I wrote about words that bring fear to a parent’s heart, and introduced to the world the ‘Concert Face’. This is an addendum to that post, mostly because I realised that I forgot the one sentence designed to horrify any parent. Or just me. Particularly at the end of a long day. Particularly spoken by a child who probably hasn’t stopped talking since dawn. It is this sentence:

“Mum, I’ve got a joke…”

In other households, this may merely herald the latest in a long line of Knock Knock jokes. In the Fibro, it means that Mr3 has been busily dreaming up punchlines. Make that lack-of-punchlines. To whit, they are not funny. To even more whit, they do not make sense. To the most whit, there is no wit.

An example:

“Mum, I’ve got a joke!”

Pause. Sigh. Summon enthusiastic face. “Okay, hit me with it.”

“O-kay. Ready? What do bulldozers do on the weekend?”

Pause. “I’m not sure, what do bulldozers do on the weekend?”

“THEY GO TO THE SHOPS! AH-HA HA HA! Do you get it?”

Pause. Summon fake laugh. “Tee hee. Not really. Okay, let’s get ready to vacuum the floor now.”

I try, I really do (though the example above may not capture the essence of that effort), but jokes without punchlinesย are just not funny. And Mr3 has so many of them.

Mr6 went through this phase, so I know it’s just a phase and, soon enough, Mr3 will get the point that there needs to be a point to the joke. But in the meantime we are here, in this wasteland of wit, wondering when the main act is coming on.

If only he realised how incredibly funny he is when he doesn’t try. Today he asked me, peering deep into my eyes, what those little glasses in my eyes were for. It took me a few minutes to work out he was talking about the iris/pupil arrangement which, if you look closely, does resemble a pair of specs. See – funny.

It’s an excellent example of the importance of voice. Jerry Seinfeld was funny when he talked about nothing because he talked about nothing in his own special way. Mr3 manufacturing jokes about bulldozers = not funny. Mr3 sharing his own particular view of the world = funny.

All he needs now is a link between intention and humour and he’ll be a headline act.

That, and a punchline or two.


  1. Voluptacon

    Bwhahaa! See, I find jokes without punchlines to be hilarious!
    My boys are definitely going through a knock knock stage, here is an example of my 5 year old’s comic genius:
    “Knock Knock!
    Who’s there?
    Interrupting cow…
    Interrupting cow who?
    Interrupting cow with big eyes that one is a lemon an one is a squirrel!”

  2. Kellie

    LOL! I so relate to this. Although, we’re on the knock knock jokes. Thankfully we’ve moved from the same joke over and over again (Knock knock. Who’s there? Sid. Sid who? Sid down you’re rocking the boat) to now making up jokes that aren’t funny AT ALL! *sigh* And, like your little man, she’s downright hilarious when she’s not intending to be!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Danger Boy

    Well, I hope he learns the value of the punchline soon, lest you sigh yourself into oblivion!

  4. Daisy, Roo and Two

    LOL this is funny and sad. Sad because my two boys will be doing this twice over… Maybe they’ll just use each other for joke practice and crack each other up? I can only hope.
    This was very cute ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Shelley @ My Shoebox Life

    Love to hear an update now – any new jokes to share?
    How about:
    Knock Knock!
    Who’s There?
    Boo Who?
    No need to cry, it’s only a joke!
    (told to me every day for a whole year in a kinder pre-school room)

  6. A Farmer's Wife

    My son does exactly the same thing. The jokes are not funny!!!

    For some reason though he and his sister think they are absolutely hilarious. I console myself with the fact that if his sister laughs it takes the pressure off me.

  7. Amanda

    Uh-oh. I actually laughed at the bulldozer joke. Although maybe this means that when my small boy starts to talk and gets to his joke phase I’ll actually think everything he says is hilarious? Here’s hoping!

  8. Kymmie

    Reading this sure does give me hope. At the moment our knock-knock jokes have no reason, but sometimes they rhyme. Thank goodness. But glad to know it’s not just my child. Phew. xx

  9. River

    My kids come from a huge family of jokers. A parent, not me, older cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, all jokers. So my kids “got” jokes really early on and had no hesitation spouting side splitting gags anywhere, anytime. As they got older, the cousins taught them the more “colourful” jokes too, which meant I had to remind them occasionally that there are places where such jokes are not considered polite.

  10. MultipleMum

    How could you not laugh at his jokes? He is too teddy-bear cute for words!

    Nugget’s jokes are usually pretty funny, but Doo Dah loves the attention and then completely forgets the punchline while we all stare at him expectantly. The twins are just doing slap-stick right now so I think I will have at least another 10 billion years of this stage ๐Ÿ™

  11. Jacki

    He he he! This made me laugh. Mine are too young to be offering jokes yet but you’re right, kids are funniest when they’re not even trying!

  12. life in a pink fibro

    I often think the loud, hysterical laughter at the end is funnier than the jokes themselves. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. John Lacey

    My niece and nephew have a particularly warpepd and unfunny sense of humour (I blame their fandom for Australia’s Funniest Home Videos).

    For example…

    “Why did Mario cross the road?”
    “Because he wanted to go to a party.”

  14. Lisa Heidke

    Those were the days…you should write them all down and recite them to him when he’s 15! He’ll think it’s a hoot. Not! My 15 yr old is particularly humourless at the moment. I’d gladly welcome a nonsensical joke from him.

  15. Maxabella

    I don’t really want to say it out loud unless it jinxes me, but we only had this phase for about 3 jokes. I think the boy was aware that it wasn’t leaving them rolling in the aisles.

    BTW, when Mr3 turns 4 does he become Mr4? x

  16. Thea

    Oh, this is so true!
    I love funny kids, when they’re NOT trying! ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Rita

    I think I’m glad my son never went thru this phase. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  18. Toni

    OH yes I remember this well — now we get the same joke over and over from Miss 5, and new jokes (quite funny) from Mr 9 BUT he tells 25 in a row.
    Maybe I should send him to So Now Whats’ house.

  19. Cate

    Ah no Lucy, not a boy thing…I only have girls and both the older ones still do this. I find it helps to laugh at how hard they are laughing…after all they are pretty cute when they talk complete bollocks! xxx

  20. So Now What?

    My 11yo still brings out her joke book and tells me about 25 in a row. Clearly my bored distracted face does not put her off.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love it. But they don’t have that shut off valve when enough is enough.

    Gorgeous about the glasses. xx

  21. Lucy

    Oh goodness, I had forgeotten this “stage”. I suspect it might be a boy thing? With Charlie, it went on for what felt like forever. But Olivia & Lexie never tortured me with any such “jokes”…..but my memories of Charlie’s awful ones are cringe making.

    Can I admit to allowing Olivia to be “mean” to him, and letting her taunts of “that is not a joke Charlie, it doesn’t even make sense, that is just rubbish….” fall upon my deaf ears?

    I would rather deal with his injured comedic ego than his lack of punchline..

  22. @jencull (jen)

    I might break your heart by telling you this but it doesn’t end anytime soon, if ever!! My eldest does this all the time and my husband has been known to join in…………feel free to delete the comment if it will send you or anyone else over the edge ๐Ÿ˜€ Jen

  23. allison tait

    PMSL Clairey. I had to say it out loud but… HA! At least you get a punchline. ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. ClaireyH

    At least he has new ones, we have the same old Knock Knock joke day after day.
    Knock Knock
    Whos there
    I did up…

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