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  • Writer's pictureBetty Girardeau

Knock! Knock! 2

Until I found the image that I used for yesterday's blog I really had not thought about those summer trips and the jokes that made the miles fly by faster for awhile. I'm sort of an "inquiring minds want to know person," and discovered a Wikipedia article about the history of jokes that I thought you blog readers might find as interesting as I did. Like all joke categories the history of "knock, knock" jokes is a bit murky. But those that research such things have found a few interesting things that might give us an idea. One is that maybe there is a link to William Shakespeare and his play "Macbeth." first performed in 1606. In Act 2, Scene 3 the porter is very hungover from the previous night. During his monologue he uses "Knock, knock! Who's there" as a refrain while he is speaking: "Knock, knock! Who's there, i' the name of Beelzebub? Here's a farmer....Knock, knock! Who's there, in the other devil'sname? Faith,...." In 1900 there was a style of popular joke which is similar called "Do you know Arthur," the unsuspecting listener responding with "Arthur who?" and the joke teller answering "Arthurmometer!" In 1936 there was a advertisement that used the "knock, knock" format this way:

"Knock, knock!

Who's there?


Rufus who?

Rufus the most important part of your house."

That same year an Associated Press article noted that a popular joke called "What's this" had given way to "Knock, Knock" as a favorite parlor game. These jokes remained especially popular during the 1950's and 60's, the period during which I and my family were making our yearly long vacation car trips. They then fell out of favor for a while only to be resurrected briefly during the television run of Rowan and Martin's "Laugh-In" show. But no one really knows who actually invented this joke form. In fact, there is a bit of controversy about it. According to the World Encyclopedia of Cartoons, published in 1980, cartoonist Bob Dunn "invented the Knock Knock joke in a million selling book" distributed by Whitman Publishing in 1936. But one of the answers on the game show Jeopardy! broadcast on December 27, 1989, was "Dunn, Dunn Who…Creator of this Joke in 1936". The question in response: "What is the Knock Knock joke?" Of course, none of this matters. What does is that they can be very funny and they are fun to create. I will end this commentary as we sometimes did when we got tired of playing this game during our vacation trips, "Knock, knock....."Knock, knock.....Knock, knock............"

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