Kominers’ Conundrums: Celebrating Dads and Their Sense of Humor

This Father’s Day, we’re celebrating dads everywhere — and their unique style of joke.

Sometimes, dads nail it. Other times, their extreme corniness provokes a round of involuntary boos from otherwise adoring fans. And admittedly, sometimes they  don’t seem to make much sense at all. So for this week’s Conundrum, we’ve put together a series of jokes that really don’t make sense, with a bit of help from Noam D. Elkies.

Each of the jokes below has the problem that one word is a bit off — off by one letter, to be precise. That makes the otherwise punny punchlines rather, well, puzzling.

Can you help us turn these head-scratchers into groaners by changing one letter in each?  Once you do, you should be able to put those corrected letters together to spell out a suggestion for how you might commemorate Father’s Day. And you’ll also be able to read the spelled-out suggestion slightly differently, in a way that lets you interpret it as an instruction for something you should email us as your answer to this Conundrum.

  • What did the Australian chefs player say to the waiter after finishing his meal? Check, mate!
  • Where does a shlep go on holiday? To the Baaaahamas.
  • I brought a spoof to the debates. It caused quite a stir.
  • What type of snake is best at arithmetic? An aider.
  • Why was the zombie in such a rush to get to his book signing? He had headlines to meet.
  • Those who don’t study history are doomed to repent it. It it it it it it it it it it it it it....
  • Why don’t mountains get cola? They have snow caps.
  • How did I get the ear to stop talking? I put a lid on it.
  • Some friends of mine and I got stuck in the silt. But at least we were all in the same oat!
  • My autocorrect just replaced the word “killed” with “lilt.” Well plaid, autocorrect... well plaid.
  • Last week I confessed to my friend that I don’t bunch anymore when working out. It felt really good to get that weight off my chest!
  • If you want to pass your calculus exam, you shouldn’t sit between identical twine. It’s very hard to differentiate between them.

Hopefully, solving this Conundrum puts you in good humor!

And once you’re done with it, we’ve got an extra puzzle for you — a bit of a blast from the past, which hopefully you can zip through without too much trouble. Remember our Mother’s Day Conundrum, which had a bunch of unused letters? (In case you need it, there’s a cheat sheet here.)

You can somehow put those extra Mother’s Day letters together with the “wrong” letters from the jokes above to spell out one last punchline that answers the following question:

What part of the Constitution says that you have to respect your parents’ wishes even once you move to another state?

If you figure out these parental puzzles — or if you even make partial progress — please let us know at skpuzzles@bloomberg.net before midnight New York time on Thursday, June 24.

If you get stuck, there’ll be hints announced on Twitter and in Bloomberg Opinion Today. To be counted in the solver list, please include your name with your answer. And don’t forget to sign up for our Conundrums email list!

Programming note: The next Conundrums will run on June 27.

Previously in Kominers’s Conundrums…

Lilian Chen & Spencer Fertig of Bar None Games brought us seven pairs of before-and-after puzzles. Each clue indicated people, phrases, or things with at least partial word overlap (indicated by underline below); moreover, there was one word that appeared in both answers in each pair (indicated in bold).

  1. Reinvented Android app store starts selling games for a remake of a 1994 video game console. (GOOGLE PLAYSTATION CLASSIC)

    Retro vehicles (at least 20 years old), driven around in the capital of Nevada. (CLASSIC CARSON CITY)
  2. Overseeing the US Department of Justice, this former appeals court judge enjoys a popular Minnesota-based butter brand. (MERRICK GARLAND O’LAKES)

    Ornamental holiday decoration made from greenery accents a wall-mounted telephone. (CHRISTMAS GARLANDLINE)
  3. Your favorite Toni Morrison “Milkman” novel headlines the start-of-the-week live broadcast of America’s beloved fall sport. (SONG OF SOLOMONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL)

    Yearning ballerinas in a psychological thriller stage their final big act before it all ends. (BLACK SWAN SONG)
  4. Goals are more than met — far above the bar — while singing a popular track from Disney’s “Pocahontas.” (PASSED WITH FLYING COLORS OF THE WIND)

    Greatness that doesn’t quite seem to be possible is found in a Cyndi Lauper “sad eyes” tune. (TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE COLORS)
  5. Beside the river is an area that can often become overrun with water but is otherwise basic and standard — you might even say boring. (FLOODPLAIN VANILLA)

    Businessman played by Tom Cruise caught between two women suddenly finds himself leaping out of an airplane for a thrill. (VANILLA SKYDIVING)
  6. Intense 70s Foreigner “pay the price” song is played during an animated film about chilly prehistoric animals — total meltdown! (COLD AS ICE AGE)

    Intimating that someone is in a precarious or risky situation while playing a favorite Canadian sport. (ON THIN ICE HOCKEY)
  7. Very best of its kind in making complex patterns seen from the sky in flattened grain fields. (CREAM OF THE CROP CIRCLES)

    Vibrant dessert made from Georgian fruit and dairy is combined with an airy French sweet treat. (PEACHES AND CREAM PUFF)

Putting the shared words from the different pairs together led to one last before-and-after clue:

“Classic Garland song colors vanilla ice cream.”

But what’s a Garland song that can color vanilla ice cream? “SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW SPRINKLES,” of course — and that was the answer.

We also indicated that there was a hidden Easter egg somewhere that “should double your puzzle-solving pride.” And indeed, eagle-eyed solvers noticed that the first letters in each pair of before-and-after clues were the same — and they spelled out “ROYGBIV”; combining that with the “RAINBOW” in the answer resulted in a double rainbow commemorating Pride Month!

Ross Rheingans-Yoo solved first, followed by Zoz*; Franklyn Wang, Cindy Yang & Joyce Tian; Michaela Wilson; Zarin Pathan*; Nathaniel Ver Steeg; Rostyslav Zatserkovnyi*; Barb Ver Steeg; Ellen & William Kominers; The Puzzle Pals — Bryn, Eli, Miranda and Kathy*; and Maya Kaczorowski*. The other 17 solvers were Jack Ausick*, Louis Golowich & Dylan Zhou, Yannai Gonczarowski & Elee Shimshoni*, Lazar Ilic*, Meagan J, Paul Kominers*, Dave Matuskey*, Noam Prywes, Fernando Raffan-Montoya*, Suproteem Sarkar, Maggie Schreiter, Spaceman Spiff, Nancy & Murray SternJen Sung, Sanandan Swaminathan, Michael Thaler*, and Eric Wepsic*. (Asterisks denote solvers who found the double rainbow.) The Sterns and Thaler submitted emoji solutions. Wepsic noted a bonus Easter egg: “Vanilla Ice Cream” is a song in “She Loves Me” — my favorite musical, which happens to have been inspired by the same play as “In the Good Old Summertime,” which starred Judy Garland. And thanks especially to Zoe DeStories and Adam Rosenfield  for test-solving!

The Bonus Round

Satoshi, finally found (no, not that one, unfortunately); pickup sticks, explosive edition. Bears playing with icosahedrons; the “My Word” archive (hat tip: Ellen Dickstein Kominers); and major math news. Movie lines, made “TV-safe”; “Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2” fan theories; lichens; and quantum gravity. Hevesh5, stacking domino cubes. Plus inquiring minds want to know: Why do 80s Garfield phones keep washing ashore in France?

None of the underlying jokes are original – we found them in a variety of corners of the Internet.

We could always use more ice cream. (Hilarious, right? We’ll be here all week, folks!)

Thanks to Yannai Gonczarowski & Elee Shimshoni and Paul Kominers for pointing out a rather hilarious typo in the original version of this clue: instead of "psychological," we had accidentally written "physiological."

There was enough confusion about the instructions (sorry!) that we also accepted just the middle word "RAINBOW." And of course, we accepted terms like "jimmies" in place of "sprinkles."

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Scott Duke Kominers is the MBA Class of 1960 Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, and a faculty affiliate of the Harvard Department of Economics. Previously, he was a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows and the inaugural research scholar at the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics at the University of Chicago.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.