An Ode To Our Dads’ Favorite Jokes, Mottos, And Memes
This One’s For The Dads
Dad jokes. Whether you love them or roll your eyes at them endlessly, you know precisely what I mean. If you’re short on examples, I’ve got you covered. My dad texted me recently: “What’s the best thing about Switzerland?” (Uh-oh, here we go—what is the best thing about Switzerland?) “I don’t know, but its flag is a big plus.” 🙄🇨🇭
But no amount of wordplay is a match for my father’s tenacity. When he sets his sights on a goal, he pursues it relentlessly. He’d build a house with his own two hands if he wanted. As we approach Father’s Day here in the US, our team decided to write an ode to our fathers—as individual as they come. They’ve been small business founders in tech, retail, and real estate. They’ve been literal house-builders, directors of college admissions, and succinctly put, a “senior manufacturer inspector for commercial roofing.”
Maybe, instead of catchy puns, your dad spouts wisdom, or kindness, or solid career advice. Or maybe all of the above. Perhaps you see him so often that the jokes fly under the radar, or maybe you’re long-distance and the humor helps bridge the gap. Just like we noted in our conversation about our mothers, there are so many ways a dad can look. Maybe yours is a stepfather, an uncle, a grandfather—maybe your mom filled those shoes. And if you’re mourning a loss or broken relationship this year, we see you: there is space for you, too.
To share more about what we’ve learned from our parents, we decided to contemplate our dads’ favorite jokes, mottos, and memes, as well as what they mean to us.
Let us know in the comments, what has your father figure taught you? (Bonus points for sharing puns—we’ll pass them along to our own dads for future use.)
Kayti’s Dad Rich
My dad is both goofy and fun. He loves a good (or rather, bad) knock-knock joke, his favorite being the one about a piano and a fish. But jokes are not the first thing I think of when reflecting on my father. In addition to his jingles and coined phrases that only my siblings and I can understand and laugh about, my father is an incredibly serious man, and in the very best way. My adolescence was riddled with mottos and mantras about hard work, integrity, and a person’s character. From my father, I learned never to quit and to approach life with a “can do” attitude; according to Dad, there was always a way, you just had to keep fighting to figure it out.
My father also loves road trips and family time. I’m certain my tumbleweed tendencies and deep love for family get-togethers are rooted in these inherited traits. There is nothing a long drive through the mountains or a few hours with my siblings can’t cure. Thank you for that, Dad. x
Emily’s Dad “D”
One of my dad’s favorite shows is “Mystery Science Theatre 3000,” a comedic series that offers watch-along commentary on terrible old movies. (I’d be remiss if I didn’t share two very silly recs: “Manos: Hands of Fate” and “Space Mutiny.”) As we’ve watched them together through the years, I realize how much of a gift it is to share those times with him. This show helped cultivate his innate appreciation for (and good taste in) comedy and film. When I visit my family in Indiana, we watch these movies well past midnight, adding our own hilarious commentary to the shows, and just generally being goofy together. Our family has a penchant for the absurd, and my dad sets a lighthearted tone with his games, music, and movie selection.
Oh, and the man loves a pun. Good puns, bad puns, he loves them equally. His love for wordplay is like camping: it’s…in-tents. ⛺ All of this has set in motion my own deep love of comedy and using laughter as a way to connect with people.
Alyssa’s Dad Art
For all you astrology lovers out there, my dad is a triple Taurus—which should paint a great picture of my childhood and what fatherhood means to him. He is incredibly hardworking and has used that skill to provide us with everything we could have ever wanted. He’s always encouraging us to chase our dreams but rarely encouraging rest, ha! (I’m only half kidding.) He’s playful by nature, always goofing off and making jokes (not dad-bad, but jokes nonetheless).
His youthful joy is always matched with a 180° version: a serious, determined side from which “car talks” were born—deep, introspective conversations about the future, goals, and all the stuff you hate to even think about as a child. When I was younger I resented these chats, always opting to drive home with my mum if the trip warranted two cars (sorry, Dad!) Since then, I’ve grown to appreciate the talks, and while we don’t share a car ride too often anymore, I’ll always welcome the phone call, never knowing if I’ll get the playful version or the serious one on the other end.
Courtney Jay’s Dad Brian
My dad is one of my best friends. I can always count on him to make me laugh with his unapologetic dad jokes and honest approach to life. I remember when I was little, I loved watching him in social situations; he would talk to every single person with an infectious, genuine openness that I admired.
My dad is best known for quoting his favorite movies from the ‘80s. “He has been saying “l’ll be back” (in Arnold’s voice) every chance he can get, for as long as I can remember. Another thing I cherish about my dad is his love for being in nature and camping. He is happiest when he is outside by an open fire under the stars. I always think of him when I am doing the same.
AmyAnn’s Dad Bob
My dad has a couple of sayings that have lingered with me into my adulthood. The first was his instruction to “cultivate your own vine and fig tree.” (I imagine that this line has some obscure biblical origin. 😂) But pulled from the original context, and in my dad’s voice, to my heart, it means that I am always to be industrious, creative, and self-sufficient. Throughout my life, my dad has celebrated my potential and entrepreneurial instincts, encouraging me to create something meaningful both for myself and for others, encouraging me to never be dependent on a partner or anyone else for essential provision.
Another saying of Dad’s that comes to mind is this, “You can see more with your eyes closed than your eyes open.” With this mantra, my dad meant to guide me inward, to reassure me that my heart, my gut, my spiritual center is infinitely wiser than the cluttered voices that surround. Through prayer, instinct, and a rich inner life, I can summon the inner resourcefulness I need to make clear-headed and open-hearted decisions.
Danielle’s Dad “C”
My dad is equal parts ham and disciplinarian. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve met less of the latter and more of the former. When I was young, he’d tell my sister and me to pick any three letters of the alphabet; then he’d match it to a stock’s symbol and do his best to get us invested—not literally—in its rise and fall. He’d slide placemats lined with multiplication tables under our dinner plates so that we could study while chewing, and also wouldn’t let my sister leave the table until she’d eaten all her vegetables. (I, thankfully, love vegetables.)
But he paired all these orders with a charming, wide grin and these lovingly “insulting” nicknames that he entirely made up but have now become quite his calling card, like “hammerhead.” (In his Staten Island accent, it’s hammuh-head.) This is how he loves, with leadership and laughs. And loyalty—because, from his mouth to our ears, he’d do anything for his daughters. Or, in his words, his dawtuhs.
What’s your dad’s (or father figure’s) go-to saying or joke, and what does it mean to you? Share in the comments below!
Emily Torres is the Managing Editor at The Good Trade. She’s a Los Angeles transplant who was born and raised in Indiana, where she studied Creative Writing and Business at Indiana University. You can usually find her reading or writing, caring for her rabbits, or practicing at the yoga studio.