“You don’t want to tell dirty stories, and you want to be a good dad. And one way to be approachable and fun is to tell goofy puns or one-liners,” Dr. Pierce says. Even if the joke elicits an eye roll, “that’s all part of the game, the family inside joke,” he says.
Beyond making the audience cringe and, hopefully, bring a father a little closer to his son or daughter in a healthy manner, puns have given researchers insight into how the left side of the brain engages with the right side.
Researchers in a 2016 study published in the journal Laterality showed that the brain’s left hemisphere processes the language of the pun first, while the right side takes a few beats to catch the ambiguous dual meaning. The moments between provide for a super-awkward silence that can make a father giddy as he waits for his child to squirm and moan. If everyone laughs, then a connection has been made—and the father is reinforced to repeat these dad jokes again and again.