For those (non-natives, etc.) who maybe aren't familiar, knock-knock jokes are one of the lowest, most basic forms of American "comedy". They follow this format:

  • A: Knock, knock
  • B: Who's there?
  • A: [Something]
  • B: [Something] who?
  • A: [Dumb punchline]

Here's an example:

  • A: Knock, knock
  • B: Who's there?
  • A: "Boo"
  • B: "Boo" who?
  • A: It's just me, you don't have to cry. → さぁ〜〜〜むッ!

    注:「"Boo" who」とは「Boo hoo」の同音で、「Boo hoo」とは英語の泣き[喚]{わめ}きの擬声語。

You can make up just about anything and fit it into the format of a knock-knock joke.

So does Japanese have some similar ubiquitous format for making easy "jokes"?

  • Not really an answer, just wanted to share that IMO just because it's popular in America doesn't mean the joke won't be funny elsewhere. You'll have to explain the joke at first of course, and they may not get it. (How else do you think it became popular?) But there'll be some that will get it (or not) and will probably find it funny (or not) :). P.S. just like every other joke in existence :P
    – Tek
    Mar 7, 2014 at 17:27
  • 2
    @Tek I don't think the OP is asking if he can tell a knock-knock joke in Japanese and expect laughter, but rather asking if there exist simple jokes following a particular pattern.
    – Earthliŋ
    Mar 7, 2014 at 23:29
  • Are these improvised?
    – user4032
    Mar 8, 2014 at 0:09
  • Some children improvise knock-knock jokes. A lot of children learn them from joke books or from their friends and then repeat them.
    – user1478
    Mar 8, 2014 at 5:33
  • なぞかけ is the only thing that comes to mind.
    – user4032
    Mar 12, 2014 at 23:59

1 Answer 1


I don't think there are any call-and-response jokes in Japanese, which is sort of an important feature of knock-knock jokes. As for jokes, which follow a particular pattern, there are simple plays on words, which everyone knows and which involve two words or phrases, which are (at least quasi-)homophones, usually at the beginning and at the end of a sentence, which when read without distinguishing the homophones are preferably some sort of tautology (e.g. いぬがいぬ) or simply unintelligible (e.g. でんわにだれもでんわ). Some all-time favourites

  • [布団]{ふ・とん}が吹っ飛んだ。
  • ゴキブリの動きぶり。
  • 電話に誰もでんわ。
  • この鶏肉取りにくい。
  • [生姜]{しょう・が}ないからしょうがない。
  • 犬がいぬ。
  • イルカはいるか。

They are of a similar standard and similar to knock-knock jokes in that everyone gets the joke (or what's left of it) and everyone knows at least a couple of them. Also, everyone is free to make up their own.

  • @TokyoNagoya Why don't you post another answer? I guess なぞかけ is similar to knock-knock jokes (and the play on words I mentioned in my answer) in that なぞかけ seems to use homophones for the joke. (I think I've even played this before.) What's different is that it requires some serious puzzle solving abilities of the 2nd person (unless the pattern is "その心は" "分からない" "[答え]").
    – Earthliŋ
    Mar 13, 2014 at 0:12
  • There is also the teaching ones as 庭には二羽鶏がいる
    – oldergod
    Feb 18, 2016 at 4:33

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