TAKE A BREAK
KNOCK KNOCK! WHO’S THERE?
The Wacky Evolution of the Knock-Knock Joke
Knock knock! Who’s there? Theresa. Theresa who? Theresa crowd!
Unless you’re living under a rock, odds are you’ve laughed, grumbled, or groaned in response to a knock-knock joke. You may have even told a few yourself before you realized knock-knock jokes had gone out of style in favor of sarcasm and memes. That’s because at their core, knock-knock jokes are a quintessential American experience — and the perfect homegrown fodder for International Joke Day, which falls on July 1. But where did they come from, and why do so many people knock the knock-knock joke today? Well, according to NPR, knock-knock jokes have had a roller coaster of a history. Near as we can tell, they actually evolved from another kind of joke: the “Do You Know” joke. This style of joke was popular in the early 1900s, and according to an Oakland Tribune article NPR dug up, this was a typical one:
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Do you know Arthur?
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Not very funny, is it? Well, over the years this style of back-and- forth jesting evolved into knock-knock jokes. The popularity of the “knock knock” bit of the joke could harken back to Shakespeare, who BestLife credits with “the first-known occurrence of a knock knock, who’s-there dialogue” in Act 2 of “Macbeth” (though it likely wasn’t intended to be funny), or it could be a reference to 1936 vice presidential hopeful Frank Knox, whose name made “knock knock” irresistible wordplay for the radio. Whatever the reason, knock knocks were all the rage in the 1930s, to the extent that people formed knock-knock clubs, businesses held knock-knock contests, and orchestras set them to music. However, the heyday was short-lived. In the following years, people started getting sick of knock knocks, and even psychologists turned against them. According to NPR, “people who loved knock- knock jokes were said to have social problems.” Today, knock-knock jokes are still around, but they’re mostly considered a game for kids or demoted to the realm of “bad dad jokes.”Maybe you think that’s warranted, maybe you think it’s tragic — either way, odds are the format will continue to evolve and probably outlive us all!
onion, red bell peppers, baby carrots, and yellow squash are great on the grill)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
5 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 lbs assorted vegetables, trimmed and halved (asparagus, mushrooms, red
1/4 cup parsley leaves, chopped
1. In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and garlic. 2. Brush vegetables with olive oil and place in a large bowl. Top with lemon juice and seasoning mixture. Toss to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes but no longer than 2 hours. 3. Prepare the grill at medium-high heat. 4. Grill vegetables in batches, cooking 3–5 minutes on each side until browned and tender. (Carrots will cook longer, 6–9 minutes per side.) 5. Remove from the grill, sprinkle with parsley, and serve hot.
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