Remember the 90s when sleepovers were a ‘thingy’? (90s lingo, but then who even says lingo anymore). I was 12, my friends were coming over for the night and I had played out my own version of a Princess Diaries movie in my head. There was going to be the same Linkin Park CD on loop, while we discussed some random guy in school and wrote with glitter pens in a slam book. It sounded perfect.
Everything was going as per plan, we were giggling on some sugar-mixed-with-pre-pubescent-hormones rush and discussing how Ron needs to be with Hermione; when my Dad entered the room. Not bothering to check whether anyone’s in, he turned the lights off. Coz I obviously must have left them on. This particular habit drives me insane to this date.
“Papa, could you put the lights on?”, I said, slightly annoyed. “Oh! You’re in the room? I didn’t see you!” came my Dad’s deep voice. Lights still off. “Could you put the lights on please?”, I repeated, turning red. I could see my friends looking at me questioningly, blinking in the darkness.
“I can put them on, but they won’t fit me!” came the reply, followed by the booming laugh I knew so well.
I was mortified. The last thing I needed right then was Dad jokes to ruin an evening where my reputation was at stake. At an age where one’s self-esteem is at its most fragile, I didn’t need questionable humour to make me possibly more uncool to my friends.
Growing up, I was subjected to many such gems. “Your face looks like a Martian landscape!” I was told, about my acne volcanoes and craters. “Are you working hard or hardly working?” when I wanted some time alone for studying. “You have your breakfast when everyone else eats dinner!”. And the cringiest of them all “I’m not Reddy (ready), I’m Roy!”. *Shoot. Me. Already* My reaction differed each time, on the scale of one to Wonka, according to the situation, the number of people around and the life stage I was at.
By my 20s, I would say I had become inured. I was off to college and from a distance most of these comedic stunts seemed harmless, some maybe even endearing. It was also the realised I was not the only child who had the honour. Obama’s self-admission as a Dad jokes expert, made them something of a genre of its own. If Sasha had to face this in public, who am I to complain right?
Over time, the obsession with corny Dad things seems to have gotten way out of hand. Dad sneakers, Dad hats, Dad bods and the casual use of the term Daddy issues have become phenomena of their own. What is it about this berated section of comedy that keeps making its way into mainstream pop culture? I think the answer lies in the reactions they garner. Just like kitsch art, they’re so bad they’re good! A Dad joke isn’t good if not groan-worthy. I mean, what do you call a fish with no eyes? Fsh. Seriously? I mean the toddler who may have found that funny has grown up, Dad.
So that’s it folks, a Dad joke doesn’t care if it’s politically correct. Or inclusive. Or non-sexist. Or even whether it’s actually funny or not. But all’s good in bad humour. Maybe this Father’s Day, let’s go shopping for jokes.