How to Craft and Execute the Perfect Dad Joke

A time-honored tradition, down to a science

By: Jay Dooley


Whether you’re a dad, dad-in-training, or one of those lady-dads we keep hearing about, you will eventually reach a point where you need to make a dad joke. But what makes a dad joke a dad joke? How do you dream one up, and how do you tell it? The dad experts at The Wake have come together to create a how-to on one of the most important, time-honored traditions of being a dad.

  1. Know the Rules

The dad joke has specific guidelines for success, and knowing what those guidelines are

isessential to making your first foray into fatherly quips. The typical dad joke is 

constituted thusly:

●     The joke is simple and self-contained. A child will understand the joke without an outside reference. Memes are not dad jokes, nor are innuendoes.

●     The joke is brief. It does not involve a long setup, merely a punchline given thesituation or a very short inciting question.

●     The joke is lame. The joke is (or appears to be) low-quality yet earnest, prompting both the humor and the embarrassment response at the same time.

            These are the baseline rules for a dad joke to function. Skilled dads can bend the rules 

somewhat given certain circumstances, but you need to know the rules before you can break them. Until you’re comfortable in your unique dad environment, stick to simple, one-and-done half-baked puns or non-jokes.

  1. Think Ahead

In order to makea good dad joke, you have to understand it inside out. Refer back to the

rules: Is the joke simple? Does it get to the point quickly? Is it sufficiently cringy? You

mustvisualize the joke’s execution and the shame and embarrassment it will cause you

and those you love. Without a concrete understanding of not only the dad joke but also its

context and effects, you won’t be able to fully appreciate it—and neither will your


  1. Be Flexible

A common problem with amateur dads is that they try to force a dad joke they’ve clearly

been working on for some time into a situation that doesn’t call for it. This is a mistake.

Keep that one in the backof your mind if you can see it coming up organically, but also

go back to the drawing board and craftsome dad jokes that are applicable in a variety of

situations. Make an orange joke instead of a kumquat one, and you’ll get areliable


  1. Be Patient

            This is akin to the previous tip, but sometimes you’ll be sitting on an awesome dad joke

for a long time. This is okay. Let it stew, marinate, and mature in your mind. The time

will come. Until then, practice restraint and utilize the more general and versatile dad

jokes until the opportune moment presents itself. The payoff will be worth it. When you

finally get to tell that kumquat joke, you’ll say to yourself, “Well, orange I glad I 

waited for that kumquat sale at the grocery store!”

  1. Execute Immediately and Confidently

Onceyou get your opportunity to tell a dad joke, it’s important that you commit to telling

it. There will be times where deep down, you find it inappropriate. The person you’re

telling the joke to may be experiencing hard times or isin a frustrating situation that will

only be exacerbatedby a dad joke. You might be at a funeral. None of that matters; if

you’re a well-certified dad, people will understand. Nothing ruins a good dad joke like

poor delivery, so say it proudly, and don’t hold back!

  1. Own It

Finally, when it’s all said and done, keep doing you. There will be times where you screw

up a dad joke, or you’re kicking yourself for not thinking of one ahead of time. Approach

it with a constructive mindset; you can always be lamer, and we’re all on the path to

being the daddest dads possible. Keep working at it, and when your teenage daughter

starts crying because you embarrassed her in front of her friends, it’ll all be worth it.


Wake Mag