Kids tell jokes? Don't make me laugh

Have you heard the one about the child who thought he was funny enough to make it on TV? Hmm, it didn’t have him laughing all the way to the bank.

Kids tell jokes? Don't make me laugh

I know your kids are funny, mine are too. I laugh at them a lot – and with them from time to time as well. My older sons have a great sense of humour. They like nothing better than watching people getting whacked in the genitals on You’ve Been Framed, the antics of the Top Gear presenters or almost anything their toddler brother does. Oh, and farts, they’re funny too.

What they cannot, nor have ever been able to, do is tell a joke. Their attempts are pitiful and predictable.

“Knock, knock.”
“Who’s there?”
“Isobel who?”
“Is a bell necessary on a bike.” And so on...

Please don't tell me a joke, son

My heart sinks when one of them announces they learned a “brilliant” or “awesome” joke at school today. Oh dear.

And this time of year sees children’s attempts to be funny at their very worst. Hallowe’en has scores of kids coming to the door telling miserable gag after ancient joke. Each as bad as the other. I’d far rather they’d learned a song, practiced a dance or even demonstrated some kind of magic trick.

You see. Children can’t choose to be funny – they simply can’t tell jokes. Over the years there have been numerous attempts to engineer junior comedians because, in theory, it’s a good idea.

They turn up on Britain’s Got Talent with sickening regularity, only to dissolve in tears when the joke turns on them.

Learning the ways of laughter

The School of Comedy sketch show had a couple of series on E4 and saw youngsters playing adult parts to create grown-up laughs. It also had a successful stint at the Edinburgh Festival. The young stars had a hand in creating the scripts.

The TV series is not longer running but the School of Comedy behind it is still going strong with classes for kids across London.   

Founder Laura Lawson told Ham and High: “The classes are a good way for them to learn to express themselves and be heard, you can see it really builds up their presentation skills and confidence and they are having lots of fun at the same time. They love it, they call it their ‘secret club’

“We like to think that the kids have the freedom to come up with material based around whatever they want to talk about, it is important that they are given a chance to have their real voice heard and everyone is comfortable with that. We’ve just started going into schools doing workshops too. It doesn’t matter whether the kids are naturally funny or not, what matters is that they learn from each other.”

I do hope she has some success and children can learn to tell jokes. Otherwise, I think they should stick to what they do best, which is being funny without meaning to.

And young wannabe comedians need to know that the joke will always be on them, at least until they’re old enough to leave vote.



  • Linda


    Linda Jones, Editor

    30 September, 2011

    I laughed at the bell on the bike joke. There is no hope.

  • Ellen


    Ellen Arnison

    30 September, 2011

    Ok, today's offering then. How do monkeys make cheese toasties? They put them under the gorilla. (Griller - geddit!)

  • Screen shot 2011-09-08 at 11



    30 September, 2011

    I laughed at the bell on the bike joke too. It's better than my daughter's no-punchline jokes!

  • Elsiebutton


    Elsie Button

    05 October, 2011

    Oh I LOVE it when my daughter comes up to me and excitedly says she has a new joke to tell me - often they are made up and don't make sense, but that's what i love!

  • Small_blank

    07 October, 2011

    Sometimes my face hurts from fake smiling my way through such gems as 'why did the chicken cross the road? To put a juice box on his head' (she's not quite 5). I have decided to heckle instead, if it's rubbish she'll know about it.

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