Like many male Drama teachers, I have been telling ‘dad’ jokes in class for years now. For those of you who don’t know what a ‘dad’ joke is, it’s one of those jokes, often a pun or play on words, that we hope our students will find amusing.
Some students believe ‘dad’ jokes are deplorable. They sit there in class and shake their head in shame, often laughing openly at the teacher, at other times sniggling under their breath. On many occasions, a student will choose not to laugh with the teacher, but rather in sympathy for him.
On the contrary, I prefer to think of ‘dad’ jokes as masterpieces of comedy, intelligent in design and witty in content. A successful ‘dad’ joke must not only be cleverly crafted, but requires superb execution in its delivery, akin to an olympic diver in the pool. Comic timing is an essential tool of any good ‘dad’ joke. Never tell one when your Drama class is too noisy, or it may fall on deaf ears and much effort will simply go to waste. Never wait too long to tell the punchline (if you have one, that is), or tension, that important element of all drama, will slip away.
I am a big believer in doing the right thing and keeping my ‘dad’ jokes in class, green. I really didn’t notice it myself until one day a student said to me ‘you used that joke on us last year … and the year before’. It was then I realised the potential of recycling ‘dad’ jokes over and over again until my students could take no more (pain).
‘Dad’ jokes put drama students at ease, set the right tone for a fun-filled lesson (as all Drama classes naturally are) and best of all, remind even the stiffest of competition on the students’ side of the desk that you are human (just like them).
Sometimes ‘dad’ jokes come so naturally to the male Drama teacher, they literally require no effort at all. However, on occasions, significant time is required at the teacher’s desk preparing such quality material, internally.
With the craft and wit of Oscar Wilde, ‘dad’ jokes are told in Drama classes all over the world. They are not unique to the Drama class and can often be found elsewhere, though never in the Mathematics class. I’ve been telling ‘dad’ jokes in Drama classes at all levels for many years now, but only a little over a year ago did I have my first child. ‘Great’, said one of my Year 8 Drama students. ‘Now he officially has a licence to tell those stupid jokes’! I couldn’t be prouder.