The Best And Worst Of Childhood Joke Formats
1. Really stupid author names
Made-up books where the author’s name is a pun, like The Rusty Bedsprings by I.P. Nightly, or Fell On The Floor by Eileen Dover, don’t get the love they deserve. You can go really silly with them (The Falling Underpants by Lucy Lastic), or bring a bit of blue in (Thanks For Your Letter, Now Fuck Off, by Kurt Response). Loads of fun.
2. Done-A-Plop et al
Umpteen jokes told in playgrounds revolved around portagonists with names like Done-A-Plop, or groups of siblings with names like Piss-Off, Manners and Shit. This allowed for beautifully contrived variations on a climax where a policeman (or similar authority figure) would ask a child their name and be told to piss off. “Where are your manners?” they’d ask, only to be told “Around the corner, picking up Shit.” These jokes are not good jokes.
3. Prepubescent monosyllabists
Well, sort of. Not unrelated to jokes about kids named Done-A-Plop, a lot of playground gags revolved around characters who could only say one word or phrase. These pre-Groot, proto-Hodor protagonists would have a mantra like “Knife and fork! Knife and fork!” and usually be accompanied by similarly afflicted siblings. Pretty much every punchline would involve telling a policeman about some sort of faecal matter being ingested. The implausibility of jokes of this nature make them very hard to pull off as an adult, even if you manage to ignore the very obvious fact that these children have been neglected and should be in care.
4. Unusually-named dogs
A man had a dog and the dog was called Sex and there was a policeman and the policeman saw the man and the man was looking suspicious so the policeman said do the man what are you doing and the man said looking for sex OH GOD SHUT UP THAT’S SO RUBBISH
5. The unconvincing adventures of Little Johnny
Little Johnny jokes involved some kind of shit, vaguely smutty punchline beginning with “I don’t know, but…” that almost never stood up to any scrutiny. “You’ve pricked your finger? Quick, get some cider!” “Why?” “I don’t know, but my sister says whenever she has a prick in her hand she has to put it in cider.” Just think about that for a second. Think about what Johnny’s sister would have actually said, and whether it would have sounded like the word “cider”. Absolute codswallop.
6. Ones that don’t really work but make children think they’re clever
Shakespeare walks into a pub, and the barman says “You’re Bard”. Doesn’t work. It would either be “You’re a/the Bard” or “You’re barred”. Where would a country be without its smartarses though? Nothing wrong with these.
7. Lazy, lazy non-puns
Where do spiders play football? Webley Stadium! Yeah, rubbish. Fun though. As you were.
8. Big long stupid rambling ones that end with “and then he died”
Arguably more of a meta-joke than a joke itself, the semi-improvised shaggy dog story with a deliberately rubbish anticlimax is only acceptable in adulthood if told to people you know for a fact won't biff you in the mush for wasting their fucking time.
9. Hideous stories of accidental dismemberment
Some children's jokes are more like Dadaist monologues of tragedy. One that went around a lot in the early 1990s involved a tower block where a man on the top floor was shaving out of the window, a man on the middle floor was urinating out of the window, and a man on the bottom floor was selling hot dogs. A razor was dropped, and it was all quite horrible and traumatising, and the less of this harrowing shit the better.
10. Anything involving a genie
The one where the Irishman goes down a slide and shouts "Wee!" is a masterpiece and anyone who says different is a philistine.
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