The funniest joke I’ve ever told (to a three-year-old)


I've tested this joke on several children ages three and four, and it never fails.

There were two kittens walking down the street, and one of them fell on its butt!

I developed this joke for one of my honorary nieces. She had just started to learn about joke-telling and asked me to tell her a joke. One of the keys to joke-telling is to know your audience: A three-year-old won't have the attention span for a longer joke, and subtlety and observational humor won't work either. It's got to be short and direct. She thought kittens were cute, and falling on one's butt was funny, so I figured, hey, let me combine the two.

When I told this joke, she fell on the floor in uncontrollable laughter. I had a winner.

Comments (33)
  1. Falcon says:

    So, a joke about falling on one's butt made her fall on her butt?

  2. Cute Kitten says:

    I am very offended that this is type of joke is allowed. I am seriously considering dropping my subscription to Old New Thing. I don't get this kind of crap from CompuServe, and I can get comparable, but funny jokes from other blogs. I can see that there is a serious lack of kitten respect at microsoft and this is probably just the tip of the iceberg.

  3. configurator says:

    I'll type a comment later; currently busy laughing uncontrollably.

  4. Thor says:

    "I can see that there is a serious lack of kitten respect at microsoft"

    Of course there is, Microsoft has mice!

  5. Praetorian says:

    "I can see that there is a serious lack of kitten respect at microsoft"

    Couldn't be farther from the truth, MS has some employees with unhealthy infatuations with cats. Just watch any of Stephan T Lavavej's C++ lectures :-)

  6. Andrew Ducker says:

    My nephew is the same.  He's now telling jokes, and most of them are basically descriptions of a funny scene.  Also, mostly involving Star Wars.

  7. Don Reba says:

    <rolling on the floor, laughing>

  8. Joe says:

    Apparently, my two-year-old granddaughter told me a funny story last night, but I have no idea what it was. My daughter was equally baffled. It sure sounded interesting though!

  9. Sushovan says:

    @"Cute Kitten" – hahahaha, that comment made my day.

  10. CGP says:

    Reminds me of a conversation with an artist at my first game company.  In a fit of philosophical wisdom, he'd decided that the funniest word in the English language was 'monkey' and, furthermore, you could double the funny factor of anything by putting pants on it.  Therefore, 'monkey pants' is the most amusing phrase possible.  It still makes me smile, and I'm way more than three.

  11. tobi says:

    Hilarious. She was laughing because of the mental picture of the cat not because something surprising happened.

  12. CAB says:

    @CGP: My friend Craig came to the same conclusion, only he decided robots should be part of the mix: http://robotmonkeypants.com/

  13. Justin says:

    When my sister was 4, she created what I believe is the funniest joke ever (to a 3-4 year old)

    Knock knock.

    Who's there?

    Baby.

    Baby Who?

    Baby in a Box.

  14. A: Knock knock.

    B: Who's there?

    A: Interrupting Cow.

    B: Interrupting Cow wh-

    A: MOOOO!

  15. Dave says:

    My mother was killed by a kitten you insensitive clod!

  16. Anon.y.mous says:

    The only joke I can remember reliably:

    Q: What's brown and sticky?

    A: A stick.

  17. Gabe says:

    Maurits: Here's the version of your joke, as told by a 3-year-old:

    A: Knock knock.

    B: Who's there?

    A: Interrupting Cow.

    B: Interrupting Cow who?

    A: MOOOO!

    (They don't know what "interrupting" means; they just think it's funny to yell "Moo!" at the end of the joke.)

  18. Antonio Rodríguez says:

    *The* key to *anything* is to know your audience. How many well-designed programs (applications, websites, even OSes) fail miserably because their programmers don't understand the users' needs?

  19. Neil says:

    I prefer the joke with two peanuts walking down the street, but it only works when the punchline is spoken.

  20. Morten says:

    @Neil: was one of them assaulted – peanut? Not funny at all and fraternizing with the enemy to boot. That "joke" was a lame attempt by the Germans to strike back at the English for having the funniest joke in the world: "Wenn is das Nunstück git und Slotermeyer? Ja! Beiherrhund das Oder die Flipperwaldt gersput!" Never worked properly, not like the English one. That one is by far… argh… oh dear… ha… haha… hahahahahahaHAHAHAHAHApeepeeHAHAHAHAurgh

  21. Me says:

    @Morten:

    What's that about? I'm German and really don't get it. The SCIgen CS Paper Generator produces more coherent sentences than that.

  22. Alex Grigoriev says:

    The joke is funny because the squirrel died.

  23. Martin Peck says:

    My 9 year old boy *almost* laughed and then said "Huh? Is that a joke?". Sorry. JokeNotFunnyException thrown.

  24. Voo says:

    @Me: Ah at least I'm not the only one – but then I generally don't find that whole category of jokes funny, so who knows *shrugs*.

  25. Michael Geary says:

    When my daughter was four, she thought the funniest joke ever was:

    Knock knock.

     Who's there?

    I don't know.

     I don't know who?

    I don't know who either.

  26. Morten says:

    @Me: I know. The key to decrypting it is "Monty Python's Flying Cirkus".

  27. Slotermeyer says:

    @me and @Voo

    "Monty Python Killer Joke": http://www.youtube.com/watch

  28. Voo says:

    @Slotermeyer: Didn't know that sketch – awesome!

  29. Cheong says:

    @Gabe: Combining with your comment, now I finally get the joke…

    The last joke for child that I heard involves rythumic sentence (in Mandarin) that roughly translate the following

    Don't cry my little child.

    I'll take you to watch a show.

    What kind of show?

    Watch your father's running nose.

  30. thatitguy says:

    My 4 year old's favourite joke is:

    Knock Knock

    Who's there?

    Zoom

    Zoom Who?

    Zoom did you expect?

  31. houtsnip says:

    I didn't expect my 3-year old daughter to find this joke funny – no offence to you, I found it funny myself and I'm 28 – but I explained to her, "A joke is when you tell a little story, and then you say something funny."  Then I told her the joke.  I got a blank look as I expected.  I asked her then, "Can you tell a joke?"  She replied, "Yeah. Joke!"  We all laughed.

  32. Paul says:

    @houtsnip: So you parsed the request, whereas she was expecting a string literal?

  33. Nel says:

    One of my friend asks me,how to know the water hot or not? Then another friend of mine says pour it on your head..

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