A Little Off the Sides

Q: Why did the Christmas tree go to the barber?
A: Because it needed to be trimmed!

Explanation: Now that it is December, ’tis the season when many people prepare to celebrate Christmas.  For those who celebrate, buying and decorating a Christmas tree is often very important.  Decorating the tree is also called trimming the tree.

When you go to the barber to get your hair cut, you might say to the barber, “Just a trim.”  This means that you want the barber to only cut a little bit of your hair.

This joke is funny because of the double meanings of the word trim: a little bit of a haircut and decorating a Christmas tree.

To hear more about trimming the tree, listen to this song from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas:


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News Flash

Q: Why did the ice cream cone become a news reporter?
A: Because he wanted to get the scoop!

Explanation: Do you watch the evening news?  Listen to news on the radio or a podcast? Perhaps you read a newspaper?  News reporters are always looking to provide their watchers, listeners, and readers with information about what is happening.  Sometimes they are able to report on a big, important story, or one that no one has heard yet.  That big, important story, unheard story is called a scoop.  If a reporter gets the scoop, she or he gets an important story.

Ice cream cones have a scoop of ice cream on top of the cone.  A portion of ice cream in the form of a ball is called a scoop.

This joke is funny because it plays with the word scoop: a ball of ice cream or an important news story.

Here is how to make the perfect scoop of ice cream-

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Tom Swifties

“It’s time for recess,” Tom said playfully.
“I can turn on the lights,” Tom said powerfully.

Tom Swifties are a type of humor from a series of old books.  I have not read the books but I love the odd humor in Tom Swifties.

A Tom Swiftie has Tom saying something in a way that relates humorously to the words that he spoke. Typically the sentences end with Tom said [adverb]. For example… “This coffee needs more sugar,” Tom said bitterly.  This is funny because coffee has a bitter taste, and Tom said this bitterly.

Here are a few more examples I found on Wikipedia with a short explanation I added in parentheses:

  • “Pass me the shellfish,” said Tom crabbily. (Crabs have shells.)
  • “We just struck oil!” Tom gushed. (Oil gushes from a well.)
  • “Get to the back of the ship!” Tom said sternly. (The back of a boat is called the stern.)
  • “I forgot what I needed at the store,” Tom said listlessly. (If you make a list, you won’t forget.)

If you create a Tom Swiftie you can send it to me and I will add them to an upcoming post.  Or you can leave a comment with your Tom Swiftie.

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Wanna Make Something of It?

Q: Why don’t scientists trust the atoms they work with?
A: Because they make up everything!

Explanation: Everything is made of atoms.  Yes, those atoms, the ones that are found on the periodic table of the elements.  It is still hard for me to believe that those little atoms make up the air we breathe, the trees that grow, the metal in my fork and knife.  In this case, to make up something means that it is a part that makes up the whole of something.

To make up also means to invent or to create.  When authors write a new story they make up that story.  To make something up can also mean to lie.  If a student arrives late to class he or she might make up a story about the late arrival; a student might make up a story about the missing homework (“My dog ate it!!”).

This joke is funny because it plays with the words make up, meaning the parts of something or inventing a story.  And you can’t trust someone who is always making things up!

Someone you can trust is Venus Flytrap from WKRP in Cincinnati.  Here he is making up a story to explain how atoms make up everything-

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All Wound Up

Q: Why don’t mummies take vacations from their work?
A: Because they are afraid to unwind!

Explanation: Most people enjoy taking a few days off from school or work to rest and relax, to unwind.  In this sense, to unwind means to relax after work, after school, or after a stressful time.

To unwind also means to undo or open up something that has been wound up.  Think of a ball of string– when you pull the loose end of the string you unwind it.  You can also unwind an electrical extension cord, cassette tape, Christmas lights, ….

Mummies are wrapped up in cloth; if you start to take the cloth off the mummy in one long strip you are unwinding the cloth.

This joke is funny because it uses unwind in two different ways: to relax and to uncoil something.

With the following video you can learn to wind up and throw a traditional top.

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Piqued My Interest

Q: Why can’t you play hide and seek with mountains?
A: Because they are always peaking!

Explanation: Hide and seek is a game that children play.  In this game, one or more child finds a place to hide while another child closes his or her eyes and counts to 10.  When the person counting gets to 10, that person goes to look for the ones who are hiding The person who is counting has to close his or her eyes in order not to see where the people are going to hide.

If the person who is counting secretly looks to see where the others are hiding, that is called peeking.  To peek means to take a small, secret look.  Peeking is not allowed while playing hide and seek.

Peek (to secretly look) sounds just like peak (the top of a mountain).  When you get to the top of a mountain you get to the peak.  (If you like grammar, peek and peak are homophones.)

This joke is funny because it plays with the word peek/peak that sound the same but have very different meanings.  Clearly, mountains cannot peek, but they have a peak.

Here is some motivation from Sister Sledge for you to reach your peak:

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They Might Be Giants’ Words

Q: What is the best way to talk to a giant?
A: Use big words!

Explanation: When I think of giants, I think of characters like those from Roald Dahl’s The BFG, Jack and the Beanstalk, and A Monster Calls.  They are larger than life beings that can be good or evil, or a bit of both. Giants, though, are generally considered to be the antagonists in a story, the bad guys.

As for the idea of big words, well, sometimes children are told to use words to explain how they are feeling.  Also, at times adults suggest that children use big words to explain an idea with more detail, this could be to talk about feelings or to explain something when they are writing. (That reminds me of a 1st grade student who once told me that his head hurt, that he had a headache.  When I asked him to point to the part that hurt, he pointed to his loose tooth. Yes, a tooth is in your head but we understand toothache better in that situation.)

Big words could also refer to the size of the words.  You usually see big words on a street sign or a billboard, whereas you typically see smaller words in a book or in the small print of a contract.

This joke is funny because it plays with the idea of big words meaning more detailed, or just using large sized words, large like a giant.

Here is They Might Be Giants singing Boss of Me-

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Q: Why did the thief wash his clothes after the robbery?
A: He wanted to make a clean getaway!

Explanation: A thief is a robber, someone who steals things. Washing your clothes, well, you already know, will make your clothes clean. A robbery is the moment when something was stolen.  If you want to get technical, the law in the United States differentiates between burglary, robbery, and theft, but people do not usually make that difference when they speak.

A clean getaway is an idiom meaning that you escape without anyone noticing or without getting caught.

This joke is funny because it plays with the words clean getaway: escaping without getting caught and getting away while being clean.

Maybe if you want to make a clean getaway, it’s time for a cool change…

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Zombie Out

Q: Why didn’t the zombie go to work?
A: Because he felt rotten!

Explanation: When you are sick, it is very important that you don’t go to work or school, especially now with COVID still making people sick.  If you feel really sick you might say that you feel rotten; to feel rotten is an idiom meaning to feel sick.

A zombie is a dead body (corpse) that has come back to life. (By the way, zombies are fictional, mythological, not real.)  Once a body stops living, the body begins to decompose, to rot. So, a zombie’s body is in the process of rotting.

This joke is funny because it plays with the idiom to feel rotten and the verb to rot.

Speaking of zombies, this seems like a good time to revisit Michael Jackson’s Thriller-

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These Wings are Made for Walking

Q: Why do birds fly south for the winter?
A: Because it is too far to walk!

Explanation: Where I grew up, in Minnesota, it was very common to see birds fly south for the winter. When all of the lakes freeze, the trees lose their leaves, and ground is covered with snow, most birds cannot find food.  It’s also just too cold for them to survive.  So, they migrate to an area where they will be able to survive.

While birds can walk a bit, their main way of traveling is by flying. 

This joke is funny because it sets up an expectation for an explanation about why birds have to migrate to a different area.  What you get, though, is a silly answer about birds not being able to walk so far.

Check out The Great Migration from KQED-

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