Science

Scientists say listeners who hear groan-inducing puns are actually GRATEFUL for the gags


The top 20 worst dad jokes… as scientists claim listeners who hear groan-inducing puns are actually GRATEFUL for the gags – but do you agree?

  • Emitting a ‘groan’ to a pun is ‘indicative of approval’, a study in the US has found
  • Researchers asked 300 people the type of jokes they liked to give and receive
  • Puns and observational comedy topped the receiving list, surprising researchers

We’ve all rolled our eyes or shook our heads at a pun-filled ‘dad joke’, but the truth is we secretly love them, a study has suggested. 

In fact emitting a ‘groan’ is not a negative response, but ‘indicative of approval’, surprised researchers discovered. 

The study at Northern Illinois University in the US probed nearly 300 people on their preferred style of jokes – both to give and receive – while also asking each respondent to take a personality test. 

It had hoped to discover whether those who ‘punished’ their friends and loved ones with a groan-worthy play on words were ‘everyday sadists’. 

Stand-up comedian Jimmy Carr (pictured) is famed for his hilarious 'punny' one-liners

Stand-up comedian Jimmy Carr (pictured) is famed for his hilarious ‘punny’ one-liners

Emitting a 'groan' after a pun is not a negative response, but 'indicative of approval', surprised researchers discovered (Pictured: Pun-loving jokester Milton Jones)

Emitting a ‘groan’ after a pun is not a negative response, but ‘indicative of approval’, surprised researchers discovered (Pictured: Pun-loving jokester Milton Jones) 

Five classic Jimmy Carr one-liners (not for the easily offended)

  • ‘I realised I was dyslexic when I went to a toga party dressed as a goat.’
  •  ‘Say what you want about the deaf…’
  • ‘I was walking the streets of Glasgow the other week and I saw this sign, ”This door is alarmed”. I said to myself, ”How do you think I feel?”’
  • ‘The first few weeks of Weight Watchers, you’re just finding your feet.’
  • ‘British scientists have demonstrated that cigarettes can harm your children. Fair enough. Use an ashtray.’ 

But according to the results, pun-tellers were not sadistic, and receivers were actually grateful, as puns were among the most popular jokes to hear.

It’s punderful news for comedians such as Jimmy Carr, Milton Jones or Tim Vine, who are all known for their hilarious one-liners.

It’s bad news for their US-based countryman and political pun-dit John Oliver, however, who once branded them ‘not just the lowest form of wit, but the lowest form of human behaviour.’

Samuel Johnson, author of the 1755 Dictionary of the English Language, also had a scathing review of the wordplay, once famously writing: ‘To trifle with the vocabulary which is the vehicle of social intercourse is to tamper with the currency of human intelligence… He who would violate the sanctities of his Mother Tongue would invade the recesses of the paternal till without remorse.’

They are part of a long list of naysayers who have openly declared their disdain for the style of joke. 

‘We had many sources denouncing puns as bastards of language and derailers of conversation, so we assumed punsters could cause aggravation much like internet trolls,’ author of the recent study Cody Gibson, of Northern Illinois University told the Times

It's punderful news for comedians such as Jimmy Carr, Milton Jones or Tim Vine (pictured), who are all known for their hilarious one-liners

It’s punderful news for comedians such as Jimmy Carr, Milton Jones or Tim Vine (pictured), who are all known for their hilarious one-liners

‘We were shocked to find people liked puns to the extent they did…Out of almost ten types of jokes, puns and observational jokes were the most enjoyed.’ 

He added: ‘I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a pun receive a reaction stronger than a chuckle, but maybe that suggests more about me than puns… We would like to propose puns are told for, not despite, pained reactions.’

He said he hoped puns become more appreciated and used by more people, as it’s ‘unfair to limit puns to just dads’. 

Pun-intentionally sadistic: is punning a manifestation of everyday sadism?, was published in Personality and Individual Differences, an Elsevier journal.

Worst offenders: 20 punny ‘dad jokes’ guaranteed to elicit groans and shaking heads

  1. Elevators terrify me… I’m taking steps to avoid them. 
  2.  I got an e-mail saying ‘At Google Earth, we can even read maps backwards’, and I thought… ‘That’s just spam…’
  3. What do you call a man with no shins? Tony.
  4. Me and my friends put a band together, we named it 999 megabytes. Still don’t have a gig though.
  5. I got into a fight with 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9. The odds were against me.
  6. I had a dream the ocean was filled with orange soda. It was a Fanta Sea.
  7. Just got hospitalized due to a peekaboo accident. They put me in the ICU.
  8. In college I was so broke I couldn’t afford the electricity bill. Those were the darkest days of my life.
  9. I went to the Doctor with hearing problems. He said ‘Can you describe the symptoms?’ I said: ‘Homer’s a fat dude and Marge has blue hair.’
  10. I said to my wife: ‘When I die I’d like to die having sex.’ She replied: ‘At least it’ll be quick.’
  11. I’ve decided I want a pet termite. I’m going to call him Clint. Clint Eatswood.
  12. So many people these days are too judgmental. I can tell just by looking at them.
  13. How many tickles does it take to make an octopus laugh? 10-tickles.
  14. ‘Dad, can you tell me what a solar eclipse is?’ No sun.
  15. I figured out why Teslas are so expensive. It’s because they charge a lot.
  16. Guess who I bumped into on my way to get my glasses fixed? Everybody.
  17. My wife blocked me on Facebook because I post too many bird puns. Well, toucan play at that game.
  18. Did you hear about the new Origami Porn channel? It’s paper view only.
  19. I was really angry when I ran into my friend Mark who stole my dictionary. I said, ‘Mark, my words!’
  20. I used to make loads of money clearing leaves from gardens. I was raking it in.

Courtesy of @dadsaysjokes on Twitter.  



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