Third graders appreciate a good joke. Wait--let me rephrase. Third graders appreciate a super corny joke. The other day I was putting together some math work with a joke at the end, and searched around online a bit before finding this:
When do astronauts eat?
At LAUNCH time!
Ha! And if you are eight: Hahahaha!
When it comes to jokes that kids have made up themselves, however, I can count on them being 100% terrible, 100% of the time.
Elementary school kids seem to lack the understanding that people don't usually make up a new joke, but that they are passed down from third grader to third grader to third grader, or are read off of a cereal box, the Internet, or math classwork.
This doesn't stop them from trying, though. A few months ago, Michael had heard a joke that went something like this:
Q: What do you get if you cross a parrot and a centipede?
A: A walkie talkie.
"I can do that!" he must have thought. I will start out with "What do you get if you cross...." and then pick two animals at random. And what I will end up with is one dynamite joke.
What he actually came up with was this:
"What do you get when you cross an alligator with a mouse?"
"Geez. I don't know..." I replied. I always like to guess something very wrong and un-funny so that the real answer will seem even funnier. "An alli-mouse?"
"An outer space alligator!"
Oh. Um. But. That's just not funny at all. You see, there's got to be a double meaning to really get that laugh / groan you're looking for. It has to work on multiple levels, you know? I mean, clearly you don't know, Michael, but I am telling you now. Stick to cereal boxes.
On Friday, Maya came up to me during dismissal with a joke.
"OK." I said, gearing up for a joke about something like astronauts eating at snack time. "Let's hear it."
"Well, Delvon and I are the pencil sharpeners after school, right?"
"Yes," I replied.
"I told him he needs to be here at 3:15, SHARP!"
AHAHAHAHA! I was genuinely amused. Get it? 3:15 sharp! To sharpen the pencils! Ha!
Allow me to adjust my previous calculation for how much of the time student jokes fall flat. It's now down to only 99% of the time.
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