I had a great question about knock-knock jokes.  Knock Knock jokes can be compared to the “cold humor” jokes of Taiwanese culture.  They are not always intuitive, sometimes ridiculous, and therefore often present difficulties for non-native speakers.  It’s hard enough to see how jokes from a different culture can be funny, but then taking that to the next level, with knock-knock jokes (and cold humor), you have to see how they are funny by NOT being funny.

The situation of the joke is that there is a person knocking at the door and another person who is asking who is knocking at the door.  When someone says “knock-knock” to you, you must reply with “who’s there”.  The person telling the joke would then traditionally say a person’s first name, but may also reply with any other phrase if the joke is more complex.  The second person then always responds by asking for the imaginary person’s last name by simply repeating what the joke teller said followed by “who”?

For example:

1: Knock-knock

2: Who’s there

1: Donna

2: Donna who?

1: Donna ask who this is!

** this is funny because the name “Donna” sounds like “Do not”, so the answer to “Donna who?” is.. don’t ask….get it??

Sometimes they are funny because they rhyme with a common word or phrase, have a double meaning.  Sometimes they just offer a reply that is a mundane play on words, or references famous people.  The “knock-knock” part is just a setup to create a dialogue with your friend to prepare for a “one-liner”.  A “one-liner” is a short joke that is supposed to be funny. Look up some jokes on the internet and let me know if you have any questions!