Knock, knock. Who’s there? The answer? A terrible joke.
Kids are the worst at delivery, but in their awful, non-sequitur way, it still makes them funny. We are all laughing, but for different reasons.
Anything my child does is adorable, not necessarily to me, but certainly to my mother who he lovingly calls Gaga. While on FaceTime today, he offered to tell her a joke. Of course, she instantly obliged to listen, hanging on each of his words like laundry on the line. He insisted, and forceful in the obnoxious way that toddlers are, that I tell a joke first. I started with a simple format of what did one blank say to the other blank, a classic, clean go-to: What did one piece of paper say to the other? You’re terrible!
Of course, my joke was “dad humor,” funny only those who appreciate that sort of thing. Following my comedic debut today, Ezra delivered an original joke of his own: “What did the peno say to the other peno?” He held his breath, awaiting her entry into the conversation. My mother confused, responded, “I don’t know. What?”
Insert something unintelligible and making sense to only a toddler here.
That’s the thing about kid jokes: they don’t have to make sense to be funny. It would have been much better if her were making humor out of pinot instead of some combination of sounds that lacked meaning in the adult brain. What does impress, me, however, is his ability to recognize the simple format and to regurgitate it in an attempt at humor. A failed attempt,
Gaga laughed heartily.
Cue the next 10 or so minutes of knock knock jokes. Again, I got the honors of going first, the opening act to warm up his audience.
“An unsharpened pencil.”
“An unsharpened pencil who?” Wait for it…
“Never mind. There’s no point.”
You have to admit, as far as knock-knocks go, that was pretty great. Ezra, rolling on the couch, thought it was a good one. Even if he doesn’t understand why it’s funny, he knows he’s supposed to laugh. My ego is thankful.
Because I’m an incredibly tough act to follow, Ezra took a moment to think. With a twinkle in his eye, and a smirk on his face, his joke commenced:
“Parsnip who?” Again, wait for it.
“You’re not very smart, are you?”
Ezra breaks into hysterics.
Believe it or not, this is an insult. Gaga, of course, is beside herself with laughter, bubbling over the semi-cleverness demonstrated by her grandson. There is some context to be understood here.
In an Oliver Jeffers book, Once Upon an Alphabet, he writes 26 stories, one celebrating each letter of the alphabet. For the P, he tells the story of a particularly daft parsnip, struggling with its identity, unable to recognize that he is indeed, a parsnip. Once he’s confirmed his specific vegetableness by way of a more astute parsnip, he says to a peanut, “Did you know that we’re parsnips?” The peanut, in return, replies, “You’re not very smart are you?” Comedic gold. This is Ezra’s favorite story in the book. For some reason, he gets the humor, but not the limitations of its context. Hence, he attempts to use it at the end of his knock-knock joke. In fact, he uses it at the end of every knock-knock joke.
“Knock, knock.” Who’s there? “Donkey.” Donkey who? “You’re not very smart, are you?”
“Knock, knock.” Who’s there? “Carrot.” Carrot who? “You’re not very smart, are you?”
This continues for the next 15 minutes, receiving positive reinforcement and ego feeding from his small but appreciative audience. Championing the arts is big in our family.
Integrating new vocabulary with comedic timing, he makes me laugh daily, a recent favorite being a one-liner. “I farted… recently.” Sure, my child is no Groucho — yet. Knowing that a particular brand of humor seems to be inherited, pairing this with his tendency to be verbal, Ezra will not only be funny, but witty, using his knowledge of language to make other people laugh. He already possesses the knack for making me crack a smile when I’m attempting to reprimand him. As displayed in the picture below. Cuteness points a plus.
For your next party, I suggest you look no further than a toddler for entertainment. Of course they go to bed early, tend to be total divas, and have limited content, but your audience will certainly be pleased, especially if my mother is any indicator.
I also serve as his booking agent and do a mean opening act, so inquire within.