Dwayne the bathtub! I’m dwowning!
Knock jokes as we know them today emerged around 1936, and soon became a veritable craze: they were shared on the radio, printed in newspapers, used by businesses in ads, and incorporated into songs. Knock-knock joke contests were staged, and a few knock-knock joke clubs were even formed.
But as quickly as this genre of humor rose to prominence, it was just as quickly, well, knocked by critics who found the setup hokey and tiresome. In 1936, writer Haywood Bale Broun made his distaste for the trend clear with his caustic twist on the form:
A gang of vigilantes armed with machine guns, leather straps and brass knuckles to thump the breath out of anybody who persists in playing this blame fool knock-knock game.
Knock-knock jokes remain divisive to this day. They tend to elicit eye-rolls from adults, but much laughter from children, who not only like to hear them, but enjoy telling them to others — especially their joke-weary parents.
The reason kids appreciate knock-knock jokes is understandable: they’ve got a structure that’s easy to remember and deliver, and the punchline incorporates the kind of non-sophisticated wordplay and puns that kids readily get.
The reason adults don’t appreciate knock-knock jokes is equally understandable. The punchline is corny, and they already know it’s coming — having heard the same setups since their own childhood (“Interrupting cow!”).
For parents who want to encourage their children’s budding senses of humor, while not having to force a weary smile at knock-knock jokes they’ve heard a hundred times before, the thing to do is introduce some fresher takes into the family. Below we offer 20 knock-knock jokes that aren’t (completely) lame. Some of them actually made me laugh out loud (especially the ones which involve poo; my own sense of humor may not have evolved too far past age eight). Some are simpler, while others are actually kind of sophisticated and high-brow with their punning, and better for older kids, and fellow adults who you want to make simultaneously guffaw and roll their eyes.
Owls say who?
Yes. Yes, they do.”
You expect a cabbage to have a last name?”
Surely, it’s pronounced Idaho?”
A little old lady
A little old lady who?
Wow, I didn’t know you could yodel!”
No, it’s to whom.”
Gross! No thanks!”
I am who?
Are you having an identity crisis?”
No thanks, but I’d love some peanuts.”
Really, you’re a shoe? Uh, okay.”
No thanks, I use Google.”
Billy Bob Joe Penny
Billy Bob Joe Penny who?
Really? How many Billy Bob Joe Pennies do you know?”
No, you’re a poo!”
God bless you!”
I didn’t know you liked Japanese poetry!”
Says me, that’s who!”
Cow says who?
No, cow says, 'Mooooooo!'”
We're asking the questions here!”
Nana your business, that’s who.”