“Interrupting Cow”: Knock Knock joke

Original text:

Informant: “Knock knock.”

Collector: “Who’s there?”

Informant: “Interrupting cow.”

Collector: “Interrupting cow who–”

Informant: “MOOOO!”

Context: The informant is 18 and a freshman at USC studying Theater and Anthropology. They learned this joke while on the bus in elementary school. They exchanged this joke with their friends at school, getting laughs on either side with this unconventional delivery of the classic “Knock Knock” joke. They state that “recess, lunch, or in between class time” was the perfect stage for this joke. 

Analysis: The informant is a white American that went to public school in Barrington, Illinois. Among jokes that are popular with young American children, “Knock Knock” jokes are definitely one of the top choices. The format is one that almost every kid knows, and it goes a little something like this: the joke teller says “Knock knock”, the listener responds “Who’s there”, the teller says “x” (any word or phrase), in response the listener says “x who?”, and the teller tells the punch line. This variation of the “knock knock” joke is interesting because it doesn’t follow the typical pattern: the teller interrupts the listener mid-sentence as the punchline. The phrase “interrupting cow” is already humorous and familiar to young children because of the emphasis placed on learning the names of animals in elementary schools. Children also memorize the sounds that each animal makes very early on, making the punchline of “MOOOOO!” relatable and funny. Many families in the rural American Midwest own farms with cows, which also might bring an extra sense of familiarity to the children in the general semi-rural area of Barrington, Illinois.