Somehow It Was Tim Allen Who Told the Only Funny Pronouns Joke Ever
In the modern era, there might be no genre of joke more repetitive and unfunny than the infamous pronoun jokes of the “Did you just assume my gender?” and “I identify as an attack helicopter” ilk. Pronoun jokes have dethroned the “airline food” and “my wife is a b----” wisecracks that used to be the height of hack humor before wannabe conservative “comedians” made gender identity jokes the newest graveyard for wit.
That being said, Tim Allen, the crankiest conservative comedian this side of the Kalamazoo County Jail walls, may have made the only half-decent pronoun joke back in October, 1995 during an episode of Home Improvement. At around the 8:10 mark, Allen makes what is simultaneously the worst dad joke and best pronoun joke in television history:
“How do you define a pronoun?” Mark Taylor asks his father who has offered to help with Mark’s homework. “Pronoun? That’s easy,” Allen’s Tim Taylor responds to his young son, “A pronoun is a noun that gets paid for what an amateur noun would do for free.” Thus, the first and last funny pronoun joke was spoken.
Regardless of all the political and social connotations at play when some unfunny a–hole tries to make a joke at the expense of a transgender person’s preferred pronouns, there is something structurally deficient in every joke that relies on both the teller and listener’s inability or refusal to grasp the respectful use of the words “he/she/they." It’s the definition of a lowest common denominator joke, which is why a dopey dad joke from an almost thirty-year-old sitcom somehow has beat out the attempts of every contemporary “comedian” to break new ground on the subject.
Allen is an unlikely champion of the only good pronoun joke, as the self-righteously right-wing comedian and convicted drug trafficker & noted snitch has branded himself as the most reactionary, small-minded, “anti-woke” funnyman in modern media. If someone unearths a solid “snowflake” joke in the first Santa Clause film then we’re really going to lose it.