Sorry for Dad-Joking

That apology might be easier to accept once you understand some background


You’re sitting at a restaurant with a friend. The waitress comes bearing your friend’s meal first (yours is still in the kitchen or something). Then as she places the plate on top of the table, you do one of three things:

A) Look expectantly at the waitress and blink a few times and purr so that she knows you’re hungry and would like some food too.

B) Take a few fries off your friend’s plate because you’re patient and know that your food is probably coming out next.

C) Bring the plate towards you as you say to your friend in a loud, jovial voice, “Man! This looks delicious! Now what did you order?”

If you chose A, you’re a cat. B, you’re normal. If you chose C, then you just dad-joked.

Dad Jokes can happen to anyone. Though more commonly found in groups of grown men who’ve reached the age of post-frat calf socks, arch-support sneakers, heart burn and a lack of the emotion called embarrassment, dad jokes are also prevalent among young women who appreciate cheesy humor despite a strong grasp of popular culture and the modern vernacular.

Because they are not technically fathers, nor do they possess the physical addendum that would biologically enable them to be fathers (yet their terrible punchlines are on par with those who do), said young women are commonly referred to as Dad-JokersDJs* for short.

*This is precisely why the AP Stylebook posits “deejay” as the proper spelling for he or she who spins records/hits play on an iPod — so as not to confuse beat-dropping professionals with those who tell terrible jokes. Dad-Jokers: making DJs uncool since 1955.

It’s important to note that the inflicted (DJs) may not even be aware of their groan-worthy quips. Those who grew up exposed to the condition might subconsciously regurgitate lines out of habit without ever realizing that what they said was supremely lame.

At the deli counter, for example, when asked for her name, a DJ will most likely respond with, “You can call me anything ya want so long as it isn’t late to dinner!” The butcher, who has been standing behind the counter longer than it takes a parrot or tortoise to die, will not be amused.

Should a DJ run into a teenager she used to babysit with the parent who used to pay her, she will probably say something obviously wrong to the high schooler, like, “How old are you now, 40?” Or she’ll comment on appearance: “Who’s this funny lookin’ kid?”

When hosting a dinner party or even a simple gathering of friends she will announce, upon each refill and ladling of various mashes that she “can’t let ya go back to Brooklyn and say we didn’t feed ya*!” Again. Eye rolls. No one will be amused.

*It’s unclear as to why DJs cannot pronounce some words to their completion, such as “ya” rather than “you,” or “lookin'” rather than “looking,” but etymologists suspect it originated from the dialect of uncles who steal appendages like noses or ears, and ask guests to pull their fingers.

While the batting average of a DJ tends to be high on the scale of swing-and-a-miss, there remains a strong audience for such lines as, “You two must be sisters,” and, “I’m hungry.” “Hi Hungry, I’m Dad.” The audience is as follows:

– Toddlers

– The elderly women who greet customers at supermarkets

That’s it, actually, but you’d be surprised at what a wide range of the population that covers.

Still, where DJing comes in handy is any time you need to break the ice. Anytime awkward silence needs filling, tension needs to be cut, an obvious pun needs to be pointed out or someone needs to chill the eff out. Some people call them cheap jokes, some call it a bad sense of humor. Whatever you call it, just don’t call it late to dinner.

Get more Humor ?
  • I’ve encountered many awkward DJs. They are good at times like you said…for breaking the ice.

  • Amelia Diamond you are a fucking genius. More often than not I read your posts in the library and I find myself having to mask my laughs in pseudo-sneezes and coughs. No one likes the sniffler (death 2 snifflers, really) but no one likes the asshole laughing at their computer screens, either.

    And re: dad jokes. Never truer. They can happen to anyone. Often I find myself blindsided by the sheer Dadness of sentences that come out of my mouth.

    • P.S. I believe we all have the ability of sending Dad texts, too. Dad texts are either a) trying to be clever/poetic b) overly eager (got one the other day asking about my rain jacket for the 5th time in two days), C) funny, or B) totally unaware as to what to do with images.

      1. Exhibit A: My dad trying to wax poetic on the seasons (or lack thereof in CA) a la Joan Didion.

      2. Exhibit B: My father feeling unsure as to how to properly cover date night via text. Can’t get picture of mom, sends image of burger in paltry lighting.

      • Tara Jayne

        “although she looks lovely”

        Awwww Emma your parents sound awesome and still in love… that’s so sweet.

        • Amelia Diamond

          Dad texts are a WHOLE DIFFERENT BALL GAME. OH wow. Another post.

          • Yeah, man. So many nuances within the context of Dad Texts.

          • Kelsey

            speaking of ball games, my father will just text me random photos of the exterior of ball parks in various cities while hes on business trips. no explanation, no context, just over exposed, blurry images of Wrigley Field or Camden Yards. And only to me, no one else in the family. I ask, why?


          • Charlotte Fassler

            don’t even get me started on the dad texts.

            One of my dad’s wound up on that site “parents who text” that was popular about 5 years ago.

            Additionally my dad let’s siri do the texting for him now so he speaks into his phone like a walkie talkie and verbalizes the punctuation “Hey period what time should we meet question mark”

            To his credit the texts do appear perfectly punctuated.

          • No way. Love dads.

        • Chelsea Murphy

          “LOVE YOU VERY MUNCH” All caps and it’s “munch” every time… I don’t think he has autocorrect on…

          • su

            My mother-in-law always switches off her cellphone to save it for ‘somehing important’. But when I explained SIRI to her she took the phone and said ‘SIRI, do the washing!’

      • Kelsey

        real talk: that burger looks bomb

      • those are incredible. my dad’s texts consist of “ok” or no response at all! hahaha

        • Janell

          Mine too! He knows how to text, but “ok” is his way of discouraging us from sending texts to him.

          • Haha I only text mine when he won’t answer my calls, YET he still won’t co-operate!

      • Sarah

        This is the essence of my dad in two messages: his response to minestrone with kale in it and me accidentally going back to school with his green beans.

  • Tara Jayne

    This article was hilarious Amelia. I suffer from something else entirely, let’s call it “great-aunt-one-liner-syndrome” since I got it from my Great Aunt Marie.

    Aunt Marie was a bit of a drinker. She had a few glasses of scotch before bed every night and loved cheap tuesdays @ Kentucky Fried Chicken. What made her a REAL BA though was her awesome one-liners. She finished every interchange with something like

    “Well! You can’t win em’ all!”
    “I guess that’s the way the cookie crumbles”
    “No one’s perfect. Least of all me”

    And responded to “how are you Aunt Marie?” with “Oh, not bad for an old girl” every.single.time.

    I now too end almost every interaction with one of AM’s one-liners. It’s a great exit strategy to just walk away while yelling “WELL, YOU CAN’T WIN EM ALL” while shaking your head. Great at the office. Try it out.

    RIP Aunt Marie. Your one-liners live on through me now and I promise to pass them on to my progeny.

    • Amelia Diamond

      I love this so much. I feel like your Aunt Marie may have been my spirit animal.

    • Lua Jane

      Aunt Marie sounds legit. I’m totally stealing that “not too bad for an old girl” phrase.

  • Quinn Halman

    Thank you very much for this because, yes, a very healthy relationship with my father has left me a DJ and not a cat. One time we were both in the kitchen and HE said that he was hungry and I screamed “Hi hungry, I’m daughterrrrAAAAHHH SHIT I GOT YOU” and then we both laughed and ate apple crisp and then he helped me do math homework. Except, I too am also a grandparent joker. Sure I don’t call waitresses “Sweetheart” a la Zaide Sid, but find me with a visor, sensible shoes, in a Floridian mall and I’ll be hamming it up

    • Tara Jayne

      My Grandma takes it one step further and tells every waitress/bank teller/flight attendant how beautiful they are, in this really intense and genuine way. I have never seen anyone not be nice to my Grandma.

      • Lua Jane

        I like that. I like that a lot. I’m very close to my grandma, but the woman, bless her, is as grumpy as a person can be. She doesnt discriminate, though. She spews her acerbic comments at everyone she encounters, but I guess, comming from short, roundish, blue eyed grandma, with halo of white curls, people take it as a joke. It’s, however, not.

        • Tara Jayne

          Haha my grandma has plenty of friends like yours. When they say inflammatory things she sits back and says “oh my.” or “oh dear”. I taught her how to use the Internet a few years ago and now live in perpetual fear that someone will scam her.

          DON’T GIVE ANYONE YOUR MONEY TETA. every time we talk.

          I like to think that I’ll end up somewhere in the middle?

          • Lua Jane

            Mine loves to chat up people who sell stuff via telephone. She stopped buying stuff while ago, after hours and days of convincing from me and rest of the family. (she did buy few Dr Levine, dr Ho and other belts of simlar variety, before figuring out they don’t work). Doesnt miss the oportunity to waste their time by chat though. She isnt active online, but I guess her having facebook account would mean fb has to come up with option enemy instead of friend. Plus the ever missing dislike (that one I would appreciate myself).

    • Amelia Diamond

      I feel like you’re Adam Grossman:

      • Quinn Halman

        But better

  • Kelsey

    Any time he’s leaving someplace, “I’m changing my name to Skip Town, see ya!”

    He also thinks every male waiter is hitting on him bc it happened once 15 years ago. He loves it.

  • Kayla Tanenbaum

    I still remember the last thing my grandfather said to me before he kicked the bucket…

    “Hey, how far do you think I can kick this bucket?”

  • Every time someone asks to see my ID I say “Oh, you flatter me!”

    Am I a DJer?!

    • Amelia Diamond


  • lavieenliz

    Dad jokes…so unavoidable!

  • Chelsea Murphy

    I started a job this summer that is DAD JOKE CITY, and it’s contagious and I’ve been DJ-ing and need to stop because we’re training to be orthodontists so the jokes are combo dentist-dad jokes (which might be the same thing?) and are always kind of terrifying.

    My co-worker shaaaaatters ice with: “which teeth are we pullin’ out today? ………..BAHAHAAA jk, jk (pats kids’ shoulder twice like SUCH a dad) what colors do you want this month, pal?”

    …And he says “jay-kay” obviously. I have no chance.

    • Amelia Diamond

      hahahaha “which teeth are we pullin’ out today?”

    • Dental Dad Jokes are the worst. My dad regularly tells his patients, “You only have to brush those teeth you want to keep”. He also quips, “Those ones only cost you a dollar right? Those buck teeth?”… and every time someone tells a joke he chortles and exclaims, “I think I just swallowed a filling!”

      • Chelsea Murphy

        Hahah my best friend growing up had a sign in her bathroom that had that oh-so-catchy “ones you want to keep” slogan on it. It had a sad, ironically toothless bear and I secretly thought it was brilliant.

  • Every time i stumble over something (which is a lot) my dad says ‘did you have a nice trip?’ No father the only trip i took was the dj express to awkward avenue.

  • Jamie Leland

    My dad’s brain houses an endless supply of puns which, like a toddler, I always find hilarious. Actually, they can be pretty clever and his delivery is so deadpan that sometimes no one will notice he made a joke until he starts laughing afterward.

    I am definitely guilty of DJing from time to time, but I think of myself as more of a cat.

    • Amelia Diamond

      cats are djs too

  • A dad’s Hawaiian shirt can actually make a very cute dress in the summer! With some white sneakers or high heeled sandals, yes please!

    • Amelia Diamond


  • Lauren Ann Long

    One of my favorite dad jokes comes courtesy of my own dad:
    Step 1: Pull up into fast food drive through of your choice
    Step 2: Proceed to order a filet Mignon

    Embarrassed me every time.

    • Amelia Diamond


      • Lauren Ann Long

        You should really try it

  • Leah

    Oh god, I’m a DJ.

    • Amelia Diamond

      join the club, the members are cute

  • daysleeper

    You missed the classic Dad Joke as follows:

    You: I gotta go.
    DJ: Well, when ya gotta go, ya gotta go! (said in suggestive tone of voice to indicate that you will be pooping imminently, even though your “gotta go” was about leaving the vicinity, not vacating your bowels)

    • Amelia Diamond


  • Sometimes in the morning, my dad would say to my mother and I, “WOW! did you take a pretty pill this morning!?”

    here is a more scarring dad joke: my best friend’s mom’s boyfriend came into the living room as we were watching sex and the city and he says “oh, sex and the city! we’re going to have sex in the suburbs tonight!” extra creepy DJ

  • Lauren

    *#SorryNotSorry for Dad-Joking

  • Emily

    I can’t get enough of your site. It’s honestly the greatest part of my day – reading these posts

  • Erin A.

    Why did I wait a full day to read this? Spot on. The teeth brushing one reminded me of my dad’s haircut joke. “Oh Dad you got a haircut!” “No, I actually got all of them cut!!”… Our general reaction to that growing up was an exacerbated, “DaaaAAAddd!!” Now it makes me smile.

    • Amelia Diamond


  • Kandeel

    I think I’m a hardcore DJ-er, my lame puns are never ending but its nothing in comparison to my dad. My dad likes saying OH EM GEE in real life and making weird sound affects at inappropriate times.. and don’t get me started on his dad jokes.. they are neXT LEVEL (plus can we talk about dad dancing)

  • Emmie

    one of my dad’s all time favourites to use is when someone asks him to put the radio or the kettle on, and responds ‘I CAN’T, IT WOULDN’T SUIT ME’ – or ‘fit me’ – it’s interchangeable. then he’ll elbow my ribs to make sure I’m laughing.

    another common scenario:

    Me: Dad, did you get your hair cut?
    Dad: No? It shrunk in the rain..

    I believe it EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.