Things I Can’t Teach

Well, I could try but I’m pretty sure nobody would pay me for it.

According to some research I’ve been doing on developmental psychology (thanks, Google), children start to develop the ability to tell actual jokes–with a set-up and a punchline–at about age six.  It’s when they have the language skills to comprehend absurdities, apparently.  At least that’s what a website named something like “” told me. 

If that’s the case, then I can assume some of my students have missed a developmental milestone or two.  Here’s the exchange I heard yesterday:

Kid 1: Why did the mayonnaise cross the road?

Kid 2: To get squeezed into mayonnaise juice!

Mayonnaise juice?  What is that even? You know what, if that exists, don’t tell me about it.  I don’t want to know.

Kid 1: No!  To get to the mayonnaise!

Me:  The mayonnaise crossed the road to get to the mayonnaise?

Kid 1: No.  I said mustard.

Um, no.  You certainly did not.  And even if you had, what? “Why did the mayonnaise cross the road?  To get to the mustard!”  I guess my life has been lacking in deli humor lately.  It’s been especially lacking in non-funny deli humor. Thanks for broadening my horizons.

Here’s the one I got later, it also contains things you can buy at 7-11. 

Kid: Teacher, I got a joke. What do you get when you cross beef and jerky?

I was thinking, for this joke to be legit, the answer can’t possibly the obvious one.  This could be hysterical…the best punchlines often come out of left-field.  I figured I’d go with the punchline that was so obvious it couldn’t possibly be the actual end of the joke.

Me: Um…beef jerky?

Kid: Aw, man!  Everybody knows that one! 

We might all know that beef + jerky = beef jerky, but only one of us thinks that’s a joke.  I’m confused.  When you said “joke” did you mean “compound word?”  Either way, it’s neither of those things.

If I could write an IEP for joke-telling, the goal would be something like this:

When asked to verbally tell a joke, Kid X will increase from successfully telling no jokes containing an appropriate set-up and punchline to telling one joke with an appropriate set-up and punchline on four of five consecutive opportunities by –/–/2012. 

That’s for mayonnaise joke kid. Decent intent, botched delivery. Not funny.

There is way more work to be done on beef jerky kid. I might have to team up with our Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP).   I’m thinking of something more long-range, though.  Something like this:

When asked to verbally tell a joke, Kid Y will increase the frequency with which he elicits laughter from the teacher or other staff member from 0/5 consecutive opportunities to 4/5 consecutive opportunities by –/–/2012.

You can’t actually qualify for special education services in the area of “sense of humor.”  We’re a reading, writing, math, and appropriate school behaviors-focused bunch.  It’s a pity. Well, no, it’s great to teach kids how to read and how to not get punched at recess.  But it’d be even more great if we could do comedy workshops.  Being a generally amiable kid with some serious comedy chops could go a long way towards improving their quality of life.  I’m sure of it. 

Or maybe I’m just sure it would go a long way towards improving mine.  No more beef jerky jokes.  Heaven, I’m sure of it, is free of beef jerky jokes.

Can you relate? Got any amazing (or horrendous) kid jokes?