Who invented knock-knock jokes?

13 Apr

As I’ve explained before, my brain works in very strange ways, so I draw inspiration for my daily knowledge hunt from all sorts of stimulants. Purely legal ones, though, I must point out – from TV shows and books to song lyrics and even gossip websites.

But even I can’t explain today’s train of thought. It seemed like one minute I was trying to find out who invented gnome gnapping and the next I was mired in the world of comedy. Or should I say ‘comedy’ (air quotes intended), since my attention was focused on knock knock jokes.

As anyone who’s been in a school playground would know, knock knock jokes offer one of our earliest introductions to the world of joke telling. Just take this gem I remember from my own youth…

Knock knock
Who’s there?
Ken who?
Ken I come in, it’s hot out here

Bet you’re clutching your sides now aren’t you?

Anyway, I decided to find out if the internets knew who invented the genre. And while there’s several theories, the strongest says it was William Shakespeare.

Apparently it all draws from that Scottish play. As Shakespeare examiner Khara House explains

“In Macbeth’s second act, Shakespeare uses a hung-over porter to satirically examine Elizabethan culture through a series of knock-knock jokes the porter states in a monologue. While the porter uses the common “Knock knock! Who’s there?” pattern, twice he uses the phrase as “Knock, knock, knock! Who’s there?”

So there you have it. The man who created such classic characters as Hamlet and Romeo and Juliette also planted the seeds that eventually grew into the inspiration for any C-grade stand-up comic coming to a stage near you.

Who would have thought?

Now let’s have one more to finish.

Knock knock
Who’s there?
Lettuce who?
Lettuce in

3 Responses to “Who invented knock-knock jokes?”

  1. Foodobyte May 13, 2012 at 10:40 am #

    Haha my favourite is the lettuce one! XD

    btw, thanks for following me on wordpress (www.foodobyte.wordpress.com)!

    Now I’ve transferred to an exciting new website: http://www.foodobyte.com
    If you’d like to see some tasty fondue photos, please check it out & follow me there! 🙂 thanks!

  2. Marcus May 7, 2013 at 6:14 am #

    Knock, Knock.
    Who’s there?
    Spell-check who?
    You, spell-check your articles before publishing, especially about Shakespeare (You know, the “main” who created those classic characters.) Makes you look foolish.
    I didn’t say this was a joke, even if your professionalism is laughable.


  1. I Watched This Playoff Game: Canucks at San Jose Sharks, May 5, 2013 - May 16, 2013

    […] you know that William Shakespeare is credited with inventing the knock knock joke? It’s true, more or […]

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