Jon K. Rust

Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian and co-president of Rust Communications.

Did you hear about the restaurant on the moon? Great food. No atmosphere.

The 6-year-old jokester.
Jon Rust

Dropping my girls off at school on Wednesday, my youngest was the last one out of the car. I told her I was thinking about writing a column about jokes. She told me to tell everyone about how "Two guys walked into a bar. The third one ducked."

This is a 6-year old.

She doesn't even know what a "bar" is -- and originally had to be explained the difference between a "cafe just for adults" and "sort of a metal stick like on a jungle gym" but she remembers the joke. And she and her sisters love hearing them, trying to remember them, telling them, even making them up.

At Easter lunch over the weekend, it was part of the energy around the table. Ten-year-old Katya started it: "An omelette walked into a bar. The bartender responded, 'Sorry, we don't serve breakfast here.'"

I'm probably to blame. For most of my life, I've been rather earnest. I love a good joke, but telling them -- the timing -- isn't my gift. So, I've bought a book or two on "kids jokes" and given them to the girls, hoping they'll have more luck than me as they grow up. They're great at telling them. In that way, they're more like their grandfather and uncles.

It started with knock-knock jokes:

Knock knock.

Who's there?

A little old lady.

A little old lady who?

Wow, I didn't know you could yodel!

But we've definitely devolved into what I'm now learning is a whole category called "dad jokes." These often involve word play, are usually corny and just might, for humor-challenged strangers, induce "eye rolls."

"What do you call cheese that isn't yours? Nacho cheese."

It turns out dad jokes are a big deal. There are thousands of Youtube videos with fathers showing off their "talent" -- with millions of views. Twitter is populated with them, and there's even a hashtag devoted to #dadjokes. When I visited recently, I found this one:

I was asked in an interview if I could perform under pressure. I said, "I'm not sure, but I can definitely perform 'Another One Bites the Dust.'"

For those who don't get it, "Under Pressure" and "Another One Bites the Dust" are both songs by the rock band "Queen."

Part of the fun about dad jokes is "the pause," while people try to figure them out, and the teller waits in anticipation. Even if everyone groans, it makes a connection. And it becomes a memory.

Want to hear a joke about paper? Nevermind, it's tearible.

The Wall Street Journal actually looked into the science of dad jokes in a Feb. 28 article, "What Can Science Tell Us About Dad Jokes?" It explained that as silly or embarrassing as they may be, the "play on words may help forge healthy, close relationships between fathers and their sons and daughters." It quoted Robert Pierce, a professor at the University Counseling Center at University of Rochester in New York and a psychologist in private practice.

"You want to be a good dad. And one way to be approachable and fun is to tell goofy puns or one liners," Dr. Pierce said. Even if the joke elicits an eye roll, "That's all part of the game, the family inside joke."

The article went into the science of puns -- too boring to relate here. And a bit of social theory: "In an era when many U.S. parents are confused about how much to push their children, defaulting to a silly groaner like a dad joke can bring two generations a little closer while lightening the mood."

Whatever the science or social context, I just know my kids like them. And it's fun to laugh together. Same thing with the knock-knock jokes, which my girls like to create on their own. Seeing their minds work is priceless.

As a bonus, here are a few of the top jokes for kids, according to the website "Fatherly.com" and author Rob Elliot, who wrote the book "Knock Knock Jokes for Kids". I have a feeling, more than kids will like them. If reading online, feel free to share your own favorites in the comments below.

Knock, Knock

Who's there?


Wa Who?

What are you so excited about!?

Knock, Knock

Who's there?

Ice cream soda

Ice cream soda who?

Ice scream soda people can hear me!

Knock, Knock

Who's there?


Cash who?

No thanks, but I'd love some peanuts.

Knock, Knock

Who's there?

Billy Bob Joe Penny

Billy Bob Joe Penny who?

Really? How many Billy Bob Joe Penny's do you know?

Knock, Knock

Who's there?


Theodore who?

Theodore wasn't opened so I knocked.

Knock, Knock

Who's there

Your father.

Your father who?

Luke, come on, let me in, it's Darth Vader!

Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian, and he's not very good at telling jokes.