The origin of knock-knock jokes

laughing cat

The knock-knock jokes around here were so good, even the cat was laughing. Image courtesy of deemac1, Morguefile.

Young kids are hilarious. They blurt out anything on their minds, are innocently blunt and reasonably easy to entertain. Get ’em a big box, a couple of blankets or two plastic bowls, and you’re done. Kids will have a fine old time playing with the box, building a fort with the blankets and some chairs, or making their version of music by banging the bowls together. (I can almost see the parents out there nodding in agreement, am I right?)

One sure way to keep a young kid entertained is to start telling knock-knock jokes. (No batteries or charging cords are required. Smartphone and tablet users, quit sighing in envy.) The kids will erupt in giggles and the parents and older kids will groan at the bad puns.

I’ve been thinking over my childhood lately in the past week or so and I got to wondering: How exactly did knock-knock jokes originate?

According to an article written by Linton Weeks of the NPR History Department, “The Secret History of Knock-Knock Jokes,” knock-knock jokes really got going in the mid-1930s. No one seems to know who exactly started the craze for knock-knock jokes but you have to admit, starting off a joke-telling trend that has lasted for about 80 years is impressive.

And are knock-knock jokes told around the world? Wonderopolis says they are. This type of joke is found in several cultures.

Here are a few that I use when I want to coax a smile from somebody:



Who’s there?


Orange who?

Orange you glad we don’t have to go anywhere today?



Who’s there?


Sarah who?

Sarah a doctor around, I need a Band-Aid!



Who’s there?


Wanda who?

Wanda who thinks up these knock-knock jokes?

Blog readers, got any knock-knock jokes you care to share?



Filed under Writing

31 responses to “The origin of knock-knock jokes

  1. What we loved best about knock knock jokes was that they were simple enough for kids to make up new ones all by themselves. It was a big thing in grade school.

  2. My kids make up ones all the time! But I recently heard the best one yet that I had not heard before: okay here it is – you start.

  3. travelrat

    I know a French one:
    ‘Frappe, frappe!’
    ‘Qui va la?’
    ”Alencon qui?’
    (sings’ ‘Alencon fon de la patrie …’

    Also, a Russian on:

    Knock knock,
    Who’s there?
    The KGB
    KGB who?
    We will ask the questions!

  4. The grand kiddo loves to tell me the same knock knock joke involving repetitious bananas and “orange” you glad it wasn’t banana at the door again. I personally love bovine knock Knicks:
    Knock knock
    Who’s there?
    Hewlett who?
    Hewlett the Cows Out? Moo, Moo, Moo!

  5. The only one I ever remember is:
    Knock, knock.
    Who’s there?
    Euripides who?
    Euripides knickers and have to buy a new pair!

  6. That’s interesting! I can’t remember where I saw/heard this, but I always thought that Shakespeare invented the knock knock jokes?

    As for the jokes themselves, I don’t have a particular one in mind. Although, there is a particular knock knock joke from an online cartoon show on YouTube which is quite silly and funny:


  7. Knock knock jokes were summer! We’d go on forever. Smart remarks and knock knock jokes were the sign of real intelligence as far as kids were concerned.
    Knock knock
    who’s there
    Boo who?
    Don’t cry. It’s only a joke

  8. Here goes…

    Knock. Knock.
    Who’s there?
    Adore who?
    Adore is between us. Open up!


  9. My kids’ favourite when they were MUCH younger:
    knock knock
    who’s there
    (okay–you take it from there. Ahem!)

  10. a: knock knock!
    b: whos there?
    a: interrupting cow.
    b: interrupting cow – a: MOO

    thats my all time fave. the follow up is:
    a: knock knock
    b: who’s there?
    a: interrupting sloth
    b: interrupting sloth who?
    a: . . . . . . .

    . . . . . . . .

    a: heeeeeeeey.


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