It seems we have hit the hardest thing to explain to children yet (no, no, not that question).
How on earth do you get children to understand what a joke is? My two just don’t get it. Tilly has learnt two jokes which she repeats ad infinitum. If you don’t laugh, or you tell her the punchline before she does, she gets cross. Her jokes are:
“Why did the orange go to the doctor?
Because he wasn’t peeling well.”
“Why was the broom late for work?
Because he overswept.”
Yes I know they aren’t hilarious, but at least they are jokes. The trouble is she heard them on a tv show and doesn’t really understand why they are funny.
Phoebe is even worse and joins in with enthusiastic joke telling using whatever random things she notices in the room. Like
“Why did the potato go to the doctor?
Because he wanted to play the piano”.
Maybe she’s showing early signs of becoming a surrealist comedian, but after the tenth version (delivered at the top of her voice while falling about) it can get a little draining.
This evening we have tried to remember jokes so we can tell them, then explain why they are funny. The trouble is we can only remember about five jokes, most of them with content that is either not appropriate (how do you make a snooker table laugh?) even more confusing (how do you fit four elephants in a mini?) or a bit scary (the one about the vampire and the crow with a machine gun – for clarification that’s two different jokes). Knock knock jokes are even more difficult to explain.
We have toyed with the idea that we shouldn’t even be trying to explain jokes. But hearing this:
Meiow I’m a cat”
ten times has led us to seek assistance. So tonight’s challenge if you choose to accept it is to tell me a joke.
It has to be age appropriate (max age 5), vaguely amusing and easy to explain why it’s funny (this obviously rules out jokes about chickens crossing roads). In the spirit of mental function please don’t go find a book or website to help. Where would be the fun in that?
Weird, I posted a comment yesterday and it's not here.
I'll try again
How can you tell if there are elephants in the fridge?
By the footprints in the butter.
I think this is perfect. It is clean and actually funny, unless you have heard it before.
It also is a clear example of what all true jokes have in common, “The sudden perception of incongruity”