In comedy, a dick joke, penis joke, balls joke, cock joke or knob joke is a joke that makes a direct or indirect 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?" (alluding to an erection) 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".
An example of a joke of this type relying on an unspoken connotation is:
[A] particularly beautiful student was stunned when the biology professor asked her, "What part of the human anatomy enlarges to about ten times its normal measurement during periods of emotion or excitement? "I . . . I refuse to answer that question", the girl stammered as she shyly avoided looking at her male classmates sitting nearby. One of them was called upon next, and he correctly answered, "The pupil of the eye". "Miss Rogers", said the professor, "your refusal to answer my question makes three things evident. First, you didn't study last night's assignment. Second, you have a dirty mind. And third", concluded the professor, "I'm afraid marriage is going to be a tremendous disappointment for 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. Archived from the original on 2005-12-16. 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.
- James C. Humes, Podium Humor: A Raconteur's Treasury of Witty and Humorous Stories (1985), p. 67.
- Joel Stice, "10 Dicks Who Made it Onto the Local News Archived 2016-01-17 at the Wayback Machine", 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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