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There are more ways to convey humor than you can shake a stick at. But when it comes to the most cringeworthy jokes, there is no greater scourge of the family dinner table than the dad joke.

A dad joke is a type of pun that is intended to be unfunny, but is actually funny due to its utterly cheesiness. Whether it is a one-liner or a question and answer, the typical dad joke revolves around an inoffensive pun with no real story line or point. This makes it impossible for anyone, even a 5-year-old, to see the joke as anything other than what it is: a lame pun.

The popularity of bad dad jokes raises a number of questions: Why do people associate these jokes with fathers? Why do people groan at them? And more importantly, is there any good reason to tell these jokes?

Researchers have a few ideas on why dad jokes are more popular than others. One possibility is that they have a pedagogical function. By telling their children jokes that are so bad they are embarrassing, fathers may be helping them learn to embrace embarrassment. This is particularly true for children who are approaching or have recently entered adolescence, a time that is rife with social stigma and heightened vulnerability.

Another idea is that these jokes may have some health benefits. Laughter is not just a great way to relieve stress, but has also been linked to improved short-term memory and increased creativity. Moreover, laughing can help decrease the body’s stress hormones and increase infection-fighting antibodies.


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