My daughter has discovered ‘knock knock’ jokes.
I forget jokes quickly, even ‘knock knock’ jokes, but some quick thinking on my part recently meant I was able to entertain my daughter with some rapidly transcribed entries into the canon. For example: ‘Ifor. I forgot my keys’ and ‘Fixyour. Fix your doorbell, I’m tired of knocking’.
No, not exactly Oscar Wilde, but enough to start my daughter thinking beyond the format of:
“[Name of ordinary household object within direct sight, eg. curtains, Lego, sock]”
“[Ordinary household object] who?”
“[Repeat original response and append the word ‘bum’, before throwing back head and laughing uproariously]”.
In fact, no sooner had I broadened her horizons with a little meta-humour (“Knock knock” “Who’s there?” “Who.” “Who who?” “What what?”) than she was ready to take flight with something a little more sophisticated of her own.
“Knock knock,” she challenged. Her look said ‘I’m throwing away the rulebook here, and the rulebook is called Caution, and what I’m throwing it into is the effing wind’. But there was something else: uncertainty, fear at her own aspirations, a flicker of hesitation in her eyes. Had she gone too far, too soon? Whatever her punchline was going to be, was it too late to figure out a way of adding ‘bum’ to the end of it?
“Who’s there?” I answered, betraying no sign that I had detected any flaw in her mettle.
“Knock,” she declared, surer now of the strength of her material, a smirk playing at the corner of her mouth as she sensed the full magnitude of the psycholinguistic victory she was about to enjoy over me.
“Knock… who?” I quavered, as though suddenly and hideously aware of the scale of my impending defeat.
“Knock… KNOCK!” she answered.
And she threw back her head and laughed, and so did I, because she had turned the joke upon itself, you see, made it infinitely recursive, twisting it into the form of a pretzel that has been swallowed by a snake that, remaining peckish, then eats its own tail, and nobody had needed to append the word ‘bum’ to anything, and then I immediately dashed to my computer to write down her joke so that I didn’t forget it, which brings us back to my original point about not being able to remember jokes very well; again, somewhat like the pretzel-eating ouroubouros I mentioned earlier.
And that is how ‘knock knock’ jokes are made, always and forever.