In comedy, a dick joke, penis joke, balls joke, cock joke or a knob joke is a joke that makes either an indirect or a direct reference to a human penis (known in slang parlance as a dick), also used as an umbrella term for dirty jokes. The famous quote from Mae West, "Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just excited to see me?" is cited as an example of a penis joke. The "dick joke" has been described as "often used as a metaphor for the male-defined nature of stand-up comedy". Dick jokes have also been noted to be both popular and effective with audiences:
Comics use what "works," and dick jokes are guaranteed to amuse audiences of both genders in a surprising variety of contexts. Simply put, dick jokes get the quickest and biggest laughs, and in stand-up comedy, size does matter.
Comedian Bill Hicks satirized the popularity of dick jokes in his own act:
He hasn't told any dick jokes. Doesn't he know he's in America? Doesn't he know about our puritanical self hatred of our own body and its desires, the only way we can find relief is through the medium of penis material?' Yeah, I'm totally aware of where I am, don't worry. The dick jokes are on their way.
However, due to their prurient nature, comedians who rely on explicit humor must find less controversial subject matter if they wish to expand their presence to more restrictive venues like network television and family films. In short, "young professionals whose success has been achieved on the stepladder of dick jokes must eventually change their acts".
The impact of this kind of joke, as with most humor, may rest with the unspoken connotation. An example is the joke below set in a class in medical school:
A professor gives his psychology class a spot quiz. One question he asks is, "What part of the human anatomy may expand up to ten times under certain circumstances?" He picks a rather overdressed girl in the front row to answer it. "Miss Callahan!" The indicated girl, who heard the question, stammers with some embarrassment: "Professor, I'd rather not answer that question." The professor says, "That's all right, Miss Callahan, you don't need to answer it. Is there anyone present who can answer it?" He notes an interested face in the back of the classroom. "Mr. Hawkins!" Hawkins says, "Yes, Professor, it is the pupil of the eye that may expand to ten times." The professor says, "That is correct, Mr. Hawkins." Then he turns to Miss Callahan. He says, "Young lady, two things are obvious from your reaction to this question. One, you haven't studied this week's assignment; and Two, I'm afraid marriage is going to be a tremendous disappointment to you."
- Joanne R. Gilbert, Performing Marginality: Humor, Gender, and Cultural Critique (2004), p. 68.
- Ricky Blue. "The world loves a good Dick joke". Log Cabin Chronicles. Retrieved 2005-11-02.
- Bill Hicks, Love All the People (2009), "Appendix: Recorded Live in Denver, San Ramon, West Palm Beach and San Francisco (1990-93)".
- Robert A. Stebbins, Laugh-Makers: Stand-Up Comedy as Art, Business, and Life-Style (1990), p. 103.
- Joel Stice, "10 Dicks Who Made it Onto the Local News", CollegeHumor.com (August 15, 2014): "There's nothing wrong with the name "Dick" but when your name is literally a dick joke, maybe think about going by Richard".
- "Sushi Restaurant Places Dick Joke Advertorial in The Onion". Adrants. Retrieved 2005-11-17.
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