Our darling Dads

The most overlooked part of the comedy canon is the Dad joke. These lame, embarrassing and always falling-flat-on-their-face pun/joke hybrids are so prevalent they seem to be an intrinsic part of male parenting. But there is a subtle distinction: Dad jokes told by other people’s fathers are simply cringe worthy, whereas those originating in your own family are, despite their desperate unfunniness, sweetly endearing.

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The television king of the Dad joke is Modern Family’s Phil Dunphy, whose advice to his on-screen children has spawned a legion of followers devoted to his ‘Phil-osophy’ and a whole movement called ‘What Would Phil Dunphy Do?’ complete with an extensive range of its own merchandising.

English newspaper The Independent has done a neat dissection of the Dad joke and identified its three key components:

  • ‘Most importantly, it must be in no way funny (ideally, it should also contain a particularly unfunny pun as well)
  • It should immediately be followed by a self-congratulatory chuckle (‘chuckle’ is, in itself, a very Daddish word)
  • Most crucially, it should be repeated ad nauseum. Dads never get tired of the joke.’

I’m wishing for Dad jokes en masse at this year’s inaugural Father’s Day Games in Birdwood Park. This new West End celebration and free community event is the brainchild of Newcastle Now who have cleverly structured the day to cater for Dads both active and slothful. For those whose perfect Father’s Day involves as much lolling and lazing around as possible here’s the template: enjoy the park, eat from a wide variety of food stalls and watch your kids play on the jumping castle and amusement rides. But if you, or your Dad, like to be in a whirl of activity there is also a packed calendar of physical events to be part of. It’s your choice.

Food vans, coffee carts and the Spanish food truck Poco Loco will keep everyone fed so you could even arrive empty-handed and not go hungry. Why not bring a giant rug, folding chairs and take over your slice of Birdwood Park on Father’s Day – staking a claim on behalf of the Dads of Newcastle and the Hunter?

If you like competition the Father’s Day Games has contemporary Dad games to bring out your competitive streak such as Washing Line Warrior, Bedtime Madness and Supermarket Sweep. Classic picnic games will include an egg and spoon and sack race with traditional Dad skills showcased in the Lawn Mower Races and Tent Assembly. For the culinary fathers there is an egg and salad toss, jelly eating and a BBQ bake-off.

To compete in these games you need to register a team, which is made up of four people. Only a limited number of teams can compete, so don’t miss out by making sure you secure your spot in advance.

I can’t resist two Dad jokes before the big day. From a musical Dad: ‘I can hear music coming out of the printer. I think the paper’s jamming again’ and from a country Dad ‘I counted my cows and there’s 196 of them, but when I rounded them up I had 200.’ Boom, boom!

If you like your fathering wisdom no-holds barred, you can’t get better than straight-talking American comedian Louis CK. Here’s his monologue on being a Dad called ‘Father’s Day’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkMi_X-Hwgc

Father’s Day Games, from 11.00 am on 7 September, Birdwood Park, Newcastle West. Entry to the event is free, however to enter a team in the organised games costs $10.00 per team. Teams are comprised of four people. To register, or for any other enquiries about the day, contact: Tim Cooper at Newcastle Now. Email: tim@newcastlenow.org.au Phone: 4929 4644 or 0435 799 579


Kimberly O’Sullivan

Have you chosen the West End as your home or as the perfect place to run your business? Do you have a West End tale which deserves a wider audience? What inspires and infuriates you about the West End? If you have a story to tell I would love to talk to you! Here’s how to find me: kimberly@netspace.net.au; 0413 250 155.



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