Another “National” Day, of course. They are every day. I didn’t like writing about them initially, because they appear with such frequency and have become so carelessly bloated, that they boarder on the ridiculous. But these days, they offer a bit of substance to poke fun at. And so I poke. They are kind of like any NFL team’s football fans. The first guy who showed up in the Packer’s stadium with a cheese wedge on his head was brilliant. Now, the 70,000 of them in the stands just look like a bunch of freezing Cheeseheads.
Anyway. Back to today’s National Day. Of course it was Halloween, a great holiday by any measure. One in which you can walk through any neighborhood in America (almost) and gather hordes of free candy while dressed like Walking Taco. But that isn’t the one of interest.
The one I speak of is National Knock Knock Joke Day. Oh yes, it is, and was, all the day long. If you missed it, well, there were some great joking opportunities at your knuckles.
Joe King. Bah, ha, ha. I’m just joking with you.
Knock Knock Jokes didn’t just sprout up when we were kids. They’ve been around a long time. They started out a little different, though. Right around the turn of the century, 1900. Their early beginnings came in the way of “Do You Know” Jokes.
Hey, do you know Perry?
Perry Winkle. Bah, haaa, haaaa, ha. And the person would run off laughing.
Those were around for about 20 years or so. From there, they turned into “Have you ever heard of” jokes. The good old flappers of the 1920s loved a good joke. One would ask. “Have you ever heard of Hiawatha?” And then the reply: “Hiawatha who?” And the flapper would say: “Hiawatha a good girl … till I met you.” And so on. And so forth. It was a bit of a craze. You know, they didn’t have the internet back then, with screen after screen of memes.
It truly was a bit of a mania, and by the 1930s, a more popular form of joke emerged. Our good old knock-knock joke. They were everywhere. Strangers told them on the streets. Businesses of all kinds staged knock-knock contests. Swing orchestras used to squeeze knock-knock jokes into songs. Honest to goodness. The whole think spread like wildfire. There were knock-knock clubs, competitions, knock-knock groups on campuses, and more. They were on the radio in prime time. From coast to coast, everyone was crazy for them. In a newspaper article from the Kerrville Times in Texas in August of 1936 “The whole thing is a game. Who started it, where, and what it is called is a mystery.”
But then the nay sayers crept in. People, in media, and psychology, and politics started criticizing the knock-knock, and even the pun. Sigmund Freud had taken issue with puns. Psychoanalyst A.A. Brill called wisecracking a malady. And many more followed suit. Regardless of the criticisms, the good old Knock-Knock limped through and survived, still kicking around here and there today.
Of course, I would be remiss, if….
A little old lady.
A little old lady who?
All this time, I had no idea you could yodel.
Bless you, friend.
Have a good laugh today. And, bless you my friend.
“The gods too are fond of a joke.”
“A person reveals his character by nothing so clearly as the joke he resents.”
― Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
“Some jokes are less agreeable than others”
― Harriet Beecher Stowe