Knock-knock jokes have been around for hundreds of years. Some people love them, while others groan. It all depends on the audience and the wording. The best knock-knock jokes have witty wordplay going on, and the more kid-friendly ones are silly and fun. Some of these call-and-response riddles are great ice-breakers at parties can help you create stronger bonds with your children. It's wise to have a few of the best knock-knock jokes up your sleeve, ready to entertain others any time it looks like boredom might be setting in.
Shakespeare is known for many of today's famous sayings, phrases, and jokes. When researchers claim that Shakespeare was responsible for first writing this call-and-response joke, they point out that it's not exactly worded the way we might be familiar with now.
There's a point in Macbeth where a hungover porter speaks after hearing a knock at the door. He goes on a humorous tirade, saying, "Knock, knock! Who's there?" twice in succession, each time giving himself a different answer. His funny, though dark, responses include words to the effect that there's a gatekeeper of hell at the door.
Someone finally printed the first example of a knock-knock joke in a 1929 book called "The Games of Children: Their Origin and History." The riddles may have been used verbally amongst children for a long time, but Henry Bett's book contained the earliest example of a loose format of the joke. Here's how that first riddle in print went, as part of a game called Buff, where a child bangs a stick and says "knock, knock:"
What says Buff?
Buff says Buff to all his men, and I say Buff to you again.
It may not make much sense to us or be very funny now, but kids enjoyed it back then.
Henry Bett's book on games was more of a scholarly publication than something an everyday person would read. A newspaper writer caught onto the joke, though, in 1934. He published the first knock-knock joke that made its way into popular culture. Here's the pun, which sounds funnier when said aloud than read silently: Knock, knock. Who's there? Rufus. Rufus who? Rufus the most important part of your house. People got such a kick out of this, that creating these types of riddles became a national pastime and was great fun for parlor game amusement.
Some people loved this first repeating knock-knock joke. Most, though, have to disagree, especially if they're the listener and not the joke teller. The first time hearing this riddle will have you on the edge of your seat, but can become overused quickly.
Who's there? (by now, the listener is getting visibly annoyed)
Orange you glad I didn't say "banana?"
Different versions exist, but you get the idea. It gets a bit repetitive but can be funny the very first time you hear it.
Kids will repeat these jokes and often make them up on the spot. When youngsters create their own jokes using facts they've learned, the results can be quite funny. Some of the wordplay in kids' knock-knock jokes are educational.
A child learning about animals might love one of these best knock-knock jokes for kids:
Owls say who?
Yes, that's right, they do!
Clever wordplay can make what might otherwise be a groaner into a witty joke. The way a knock-knock joke is constructed gives you an opportunity to create a smart play on words backed up with a terrific punchline. Take the word that answers the question "who" and change the meaning of the word by making it sound like other words for the punchline.
Armageddon a little bored. Let's get on outta here.
Impress a potential sweetheart by telling the best knock-knock jokes that will draw you some attention. Some of them can be corny, but it could be the riddle that gets you a phone number. Coming on too strong can be a mistake, so be wary of your words. Here's a good one: Knock, knock. Who's there? Orange. Orange who? Orange you stunning!
The family that jokes together has a lot of fun together. These call-and-response riddles are silly enough to have mom, dad, teens, and kids laughing. Make them up as you go along, or be prepared with a bunch to try and outdo one another. A favorite is:
Some teachers greet their students with a daily quote. Wouldn't it be fun also to begin class with a knock-knock joke to ease kids into the day? Some educators have a good time with this and come prepared with a daily riddle like:
Just in time for school!
National Knock-Knock Joke Day is an actual holiday celebrated every year on October 31st, the same day as Halloween. This national joke day is perfect for telling silly jokes all day long. If you're taking kids out trick-or-treating, tell a joke at every door. Use social media to get in on the fun, too.
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