Tag Archives: interrupting cow

“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.

Interruptor Cow Knock Knock Joke

Information about the Informant

My informant is a college student at a community college in San Jose. He’s an avid amateur photographer, and we know each other through going to the same online high school. His family’s very closely-knit, with his parents very involved in the lives of their children. I collected this family in-joke from him while we were visiting the same high school friend outside of Las Vegas.


“Knock knock.”
“Who’s there?”
“Interruptor cow.”


When asked why this joke was important to the informant, he replied that, “It is or was for a long time the only joke my mom remembered. So when you said, ‘joke,’ that’s immediately what I thought of.” He and his mother do have a tendency to enjoy humor that involves subversions such as the one in this joke. In this case, that the punchline of the joke is the interruption and the derailment of the usual structure of a knock knock joke. Its subversion of the usual knock knock joke structure may be precisely the reason why the informant’s reason remembers it when she cannot remember any other joke, making this joke one that is precious both to her and my informant as the one family joke that they both remember and can share.