A few months ago, Brian and I began teaching the kids about “knock-knock” jokes. I figure that they, along with such other basic elements of comedy such as the horn nose and pie-in-the-face, would be easy for the kids to understand. Then they could make up their own jokes.
Yes, I knew it was a dark path to go down. Because most little kids don’t quite understand what it is that makes a joke funny — the wordplay. For them, a knock knock joke consists of some back-and-forth dialogue, and then some random statement, and then you laugh.
But I say, knowing when to laugh at the end of a joke is an important social skill. In about a decade I’ll get them into Advanced Joke Theory, which includes the false smile and the courtesy laugh.
For now, though, Eleanor tells ONE joke and ONE joke only. Spoken in a single breath, it goes thusly:
“Knock knock, who’s there? It’s a bunny rabbit stuck in the joke-joke tree!”
Yes! Original, indeed! Can you tell that she made it up herself? I can’t quite capture the timing of the thing in print, but the delivery is more like “It’s a BUNNY rabbit stuck in the JOKE JOKE TREEEEEE!”
She repeats this at least once every other day or so. You’d think I’d get annoyed, but it’s become such a running gag, and she says it with such relish, that I can’t help laughing at it. Plus, who can’t find the charm in the idea of a “joke-joke tree”? It’s something cultivated in a Humor Garden, I suppose.
My parents tell me that the joke I told repeatedly as a three year old went along the lines of “A squirrel went up into the tree! And said, Ha ha ha ha!” If anything, I hope this proves that a sense of humor is something that can improve with each succeeding generation. Just watch out for that bunny rabbit.