Dad Jokes in Literature and Pop Culture

Posted by Rose Moore

We had a ton of fun celebrating our dads last week for Father's Day…and it also brought out a ton of Dad jokes. After all, one of the great joys of being a parent is being able to make a child cringe, especially when it comes to cheesy jokes. Dad jokes are a staple of pop culture, as fathers in films, books, and TV strive to out-do each other when it comes to corny one liners and groan-inducing puns. And of course, while we may roll our eyes and shake our heads at them, everyone loves a dad who knows how to crack that joke at the perfect time.


Rosemary & Dill (Easy A)

Olive’s parents in Easy A are easily some of the best, and funniest, on the silver screen, and it’s not just Dad Dill who is the one cracking Dad jokes…mom Rosemary is just as ready to serve up the puns at any opportunity! When a boy comes to the door and asks, "Is there an Olive here," she doesn’t let the opportunity pass her by, and immediately responds, "There’s a whole jar of them in the fridge!" It’s this kind of classic punnage that make the Easy A parents some of the funniest in film—but Dill’s best joke is definitely a fan favorite. When Olive’s younger brother mentions that he is adopted (fairly obvious, given that his parents are both white and he is black), Dill acts shocked, gasping "What? Who told you?!"


Mufasa (The Lion King)

Mufasa doesn’t get a whole lot of screentime in the animated classic The Lion King. His heartbreaking death at the hands of his evil brother cuts his chances for heartfelt father-son talks short. And while the king of lions is known more for his inspirational speeches, he’s also got a serious sense of humor. Whether it’s teaching Simba how to pounce with the "help" of Zazu or wrestling with him, Mufasa is the perfect blend of fun-Dad and serious parent. And, while some fans may not pick up on it, he’s also got at least one solid Dad joke to his name. When Simba is attempting to wake his parents up before dawn (something any parent can relate to!), Mufasa groans to his wife, "Before sunrise, he’s your son," is he putting the responsibility on his wife? Nah, he’s just making a joke about the fact that his responsibility extends only to "everything the light touches," a perfectly subtle one-liner that went over many fans’ heads.


Geoffrey (The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air)

Not all Dad jokes have to be made by actual fathers, as the Banks’ family butler, Geoffrey, proves time and time again. Throughout the series, he is constantly cracking jokes at the kids’ expense, and usually with a completely straight face. He may be a loyal and constant employee for the family, but he’s got one heckuva sharp tongue, and he definitely knows how to use it! It’s hard to pick just one or two best lines from this master of the Dad joke, but some favorites include his response to Hilary asking "What do you know about wine?" (I know no-one does it better than you!) or the truly brilliant moment when Carlton asked him to make him a sandwich… and Geoffrey responded by putting a slice of bread on his head and saying "There. Now you are a sandwich."


Arthur Weasley (Harry Potter)

Not all funny Dads have to be the ones who are constantly wise-cracking, and no bookish father proves that better than Arthur Weasley. This kind and loving father may not be one who is flinging out obvious puns left, right, and center, but he’s clearly got a serious sense of humor. From his reaction to finding out that his sons stole his flying car and took it out for a spin (an excited "How’d it go," followed by a clearly fake lecture about how very wrong it was…) to his general enthusiasm about all things muggle, it’s easy to see where Fred and George get their sense of humor from. And of course, in a brilliant role reversal, it’s these two kids who are the ones cracking most of the puns in the series—not least, George’s description of himself as saintlike after being wounded because…he’s holey!


Phil Dunphy (Modern Family)

Finally, no discussion of Dad jokes in pop culture could be complete without a mention of the King of Dad Jokes—Modern Family’s Phil Dunphy. Throughout the series, Phil is constantly cracking jokes and making terrible puns, whether to the camera or the family, and he doesn’t forget to follow them up with the ultimate Dad-joke-face, grinning excitedly and waiting to see how his latest terrible joke will land. From inserting his name into every possible phrase ("They asked me to…Phil in!") to rewriting songs to include puns or quoting other famous lines (one has to wonder if he named his son Luke specifically so he could one day say "Luke, I am your father"), Phil Dunphy is past master of the Dad joke, and we all love him for it.


Who are your favorite corny-joke-cracking Dads in pop culture? Tweet @quirkbooks and let us know!