What is a Knock-Knock Joke?

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  • Written By: Mary Elizabeth
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2019
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Unlike many jokes that are monologues told with care by the jokester, knock-knock jokes engage the jokester and the audience in a dialogue. There are many different jokes of this type, but there are some shared characteristics.

Formula. All knock-knock jokes have five lines. The first two lines are always the same:

This exchange is followed by another pair of lines. In the third line, the jokester gives a partial answer which is a real English word and generally makes some sense. In the fourth line, the audience repeats the answer of the third line and adds the question, "who?" like this:

In the final line, the jokester almost always makes a pun on the answer in the third line by adding a subsequent word or phrase that transforms the meaning because it sounds like something else. The closing line to the knock-knock joke we're using as an example is:

Said quickly, the name of the couple is transformed aurally into the name of a song from the musical South Pacific: "Some Enchanted Evening." Some jokesters actually sing the last line, using the appropriate melody.

Variations on the knock-knock. There are also self-reflective knock-knocks that make fun of the audience's expectations for how the joke will work, like this one:


Here, instead of using the word "banana" in a punning way in the punchline, the jokester uses the name of another fruit. This type of joke works by breaking the formula, while still using the pun concept. Sometimes, the word "who" of the question is incorporated into the knock-knock's punchline, to create a variation like this:

Another variation is the series knock-knock, in which a set of jokes is told in sequence to create an effect. One set goes like this:


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Post 9

Knock knock jokes have to use a real name. Not just some word! Check out Click and Clack on NPR on Saturday mornings for some of the best.

Post 8

When I was younger, I remember having knock-knock joke wars with my friends. We would spend like a half hour going back and forth with different jokes we heard or made up ourselves. We spent so much time laughing, I am sure some of them didn't even make sense and were repetition, but we didn't care!

Now I don't find knock-knock jokes as funny, but I still like them. Sometimes they can be very witty, and I like witty humor. I think it is just the sheer routine of it that gets old as you get older. Many of us don't like waiting for the pun. When we were kids I think part of the fun was engaging in the routine of it and waiting for the pun.

Post 7

I agree that knock knock jokes can seem pretty silly. I have even been in audiences when you hear a groan spread across the room when someone starts a knock knock joke.

The times that I enjoy them the most is during Halloween. I don't think we have ever had a trick or treat night without hearing several knock knock jokes.

Most of these jokes are told by young people who are just learning to tell jokes and I find it fun to play along with them. Every once in awhile I hear a new joke that is pretty funny, but most of them have been around forever!

Post 6

It seems like I have heard about every knock knock joke that has ever been said, but it was a lot of fun when my grandson began to understand them.

You could just see the wheels turning in his head as he was processing the whole joke. Once he really got it, he had so much fun with them.

Some of the knock knock jokes he came up with were pretty corny, but the best part was watching him get a kick out of them.

Post 5

@JaneAir - I'm embarrassed to admit that I still find knock-knock jokes pretty funny. But I'm a big fan of puns, and a lot of knock-knock jokes have a pun for the punchline.

I have to say that there are some new knock-knock jokes out there! Maybe all the people you know that tell knock-knock jokes have never heard of the Internet. I bet if you did a search right now you could find a hundred knock-knock jokes you've never heard of!

Post 4

Maybe I'm a spoilsport, but I'm not a big fan of knock-knock jokes. I feel like no one has invented a new one in the last fifty years, and I'm sick of all the ones I've already heard.

I also agree with the other posters-I think children are way more entertained by knock-knock jokes than adults are. I can remember being about 8 and thinking knock-knock jokes were the funniest thing every. I seem to have outgrown that idea though!

Post 3

@Sara007 - You sound like you have a lot more patience for knock-knock jokes than I ever had. My kids used to knock wood just before they started their jokes, and I always winced know that I would have to walk through another knock-knock joke with them.

I really think that kids find things a lot funnier than adults do. I will take my stand-up comedians any day. I can also guarantee that if any comedian I know of got up on stage and started with the infamous, "knock-knock, who's there?" routine that they would probably get booed off the stage.

Post 2

My kids used to love checking out the knock-knock joke of the day on a kids humor website they used to frequent. I know the jokes were really silly and cheesy, but my kids never got tired of following me around and trying their new jokes on me.

I think that the knock-knock jokes are some of the first jokes that kids can really grasp. The formula is simple to learn and it is easy to make your own jokes once you get an idea of the flow.

While knock-knock jokes now drive me crazy, I am glad that my kids had fun learning them. I suppose learning about humor comes in various stages as we grow up.

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