Flat White

Knock-knock: offensive by nature

21 July 2022

10:00 AM

21 July 2022

10:00 AM

Recently, someone told me a knock-knock joke, and I deemed it offensive and insensitive. The subject matter was itself not offensive, and neither was the punchline, unless you consider bananas, oranges, and forced puns offensive. However, after the recent unwelcomed assault of jokes knocking on my conscience’s door, I’ve concluded that the genre of humour known as knock-knock jokes is, as a whole, entirely offensive from the first knock to the last announcement of who is at the door.

Here is why.

First, knock-knock jokes fail to envisage those who have no doors because either the doors fell off or they live in a culture where doors are not a thing. Moreover, these jokes do not regard the homeless who have neither doors, door jams, walls, or any surface suitable for knocking and announcing a visitor’s presence.

Furthermore, knock-knock jokes force people who culturally do not have doors (Bedouin people, hikers on the Bibbulmun Track or the Appalachian Trail, hobos, and vagabonds) into a cultural appropriation that is not their own in order to be able to answer a door, albeit imaginary.


Knock-knock jokes completely ignore the solidarity needed with those in lockdown throughout the globe and who have no one, not even the pizza delivery guy, to knock on their door. A complete lack of compassion.

The knock-knock jokes also imply boundaries and are therefore offensive to university professors, pastors, and campus ministers around the world who have open-door policies.

These jokes are corrosive to those who may be home and have doors for knocking but would instead choose not to answer the door and pretend not to be home: recluses, hermits, or just an ordinary run-of-the-mill misanthrope.

The knock-knock joke shows a lack of consideration to those who are not home but would like to have answered the door and those who are home but cannot get to the door to answer.

Knock-Knock jokes also violate the Disability Discrimination Act of 1992 as it does not give equal access to those who cannot hear or have difficulty hearing due to age or no fault of their own. How can a person begin to ask, ‘Who is there?’ if they never know when someone is knocking? It isn’t as if subtitles magically appear when within ten meters of a person who is hard of hearing. Moreover, it also fails to keep in mind those people who have ADD or ADHD and get distracted before reaching the door and wander off down the hallway or into the kitchen for a cuppa.

What say of knock-knock jokes for those who prefer that all visiting guests, invited or not, use the doorbell? Perhaps, for these people, we can rebrand these jokes as ding-dong jokes.

In brief, the knock-knock joke has the potential to be offensive to all persons, and this is before we examine the subject matter of said jokes. Therefore, knock-knock jokes are not Woke jokes, and if it isn’t Woke, it’s broke. Therefore, all knock-knock jokes should and must be classified as offensive behaviour and all offenders jailed or at minimum fined.

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