I still remember the first time I told my then six-year-old son Lev that a clam makes calls with its “shell phone.” The laugh of recognition when he first got the joke was a moment I won’t ever forget. When I told it a second time in front of his friends Henry and Amir, I could see how proud he was that I had made his friends laugh. Excuse the bragging, but I was a cool dad.
At his ninth birthday party, I didn’t get an eye-roll until the seventh or eighth time I asked him, “What do you call someone with ‘no body and no nose?’" He just looked at me and said dismissively, “I get it, Dad, I get it.” I forged ahead to say, “Nobody knows,” as he burst out with a loud “Stop it, Dad!” I tried to be cool about it and immediately shifted gears into food puns — reminding him and his friends that melons have weddings because they “cantaloupe” and so forth — but I got nothing except head shakes and averted eyes. I’m pretty sure he said, “Sorry about my dad” to his friends as they all ran off to play on their phones together.
I used to be the life of every kids’ party. When I was only an uncle, all the toddlers loved my “got your nose” bit. I was the one who always had a knock-knock joke at the ready. Other parents loved that I could show up at any event and distract their kids with age-appropriate, groan-worthy wordplay. Sure, there were other dads with their bits, but I felt like no one ever stole my thorny crown. My wife long ago tuned me out, but she knew that my never-ending quest for laughter from kids, no matter how unashamedly, was in my blood. I believe as the kids got older, they took their cues to be embarrassed by me from their mom’s head shaking disdain. We’re working through the issue.
I tell you all this because after a lot of soul searching, I believe that it’s time. My kids aren’t grown and out of the house, but I’ve come to realize that I’ll never be able to compete with my past success. I need our relationship to grow, so I’m putting on my big boy pants and have decided to talk to them about something other than how a witch’s car goes “broom, broom.” Thus, I’m offering my entire catalog of jokes for sale on the open market. Puns, threatening tickling bits, knock-knock jokes, goofy faces, fart noises not from my butt, double-takes, and even borderline-inappropriate spit-take lines. I’m done with them all, and it feels like the right time to sell my legacy to some deserving new dad.
I haven’t put a price on my priceless collection, but I can tell you that the first time you get your toddler to laugh at the line, “I don’t trust stairs. They’re always up to something,”© you’ll feel it’s all worth it. You can find links to all the paperwork on my @sirdadjokes page on Insta.
Just to be upfront, there’s a chance that if you look at my full body of work you’ll see bits that you’ll think you’ve heard before. I have been a victim of joke-stealing for as long as I can remember. I proudly say that I’ve always tried to be original. Sure, I’ve covered other dads’ jokes. But I’ve always given credit. What you’ll get in my binders full of clever shtick are original as far as I know. Some of them passed down to me from my dad and my uncles — I’m talking about stuff that wowed shtetls even during the pogroms — but everything you get in my catalog has been copy-written or trademarked to the extent that the law understands puns and groaners.
I realize that there have been recordings of some of my work from brises — including my killer asides like, “After my bris, I couldn’t walk for like a year!” — and my kindergarten graduation classic indignant, “Well, now he better get himself a job!” routine. I could go on, but let’s just say that as much as I appreciate the recognition of fans who aren’t my own children, bootlegging is just not cool.
Artists deserve to get compensated for their creative work. Sometimes that comes in the form of uncontrollable laughter and idol worship from children, but at this point in my life, I’ll accept Venmo.