Comedian Mo Welch Shares Her Unorthodox Father’s Day Gift Guide

It’s safe to say we’ve all—unfortunately—heard a bad dad joke. But the comedian Mo Welch has made her career out of telling really good ones. The Normal, Illinois native’s earliest comedy routine and her first published New Yorker cartoon were both dad jokes. When she realized her humor had a running theme to it, a nagging question entered her mind: “Why do you have so many dad jokes when you don’t even have a dad?” Welch, who was raised by a single mother, was estranged from her father who spent time in a “super exclusive gated community” (more commonly known as prison).

“Abandonment is funny, to a certain point,” the comedian tells me during a recent interview. “It’s a good premise for a joke, there’s a lot to mine, but there is a ceiling for it, where it gets kind of sad. There is a point where people go, Awww, instead of laughing.”

If pity is a comedy death knell, then Dad Jokes—Welch’s new hybrid docu-comedy that drops on YouTube June 14—is the antidote. The special includes a dedicated set full of all the dad jokes she’s wanted to tell, filmed at the Lodge Room in Los Angeles, where the comedian currently lives. Woven between that is a road trip she took to meet up with her dad—whom she hadn’t seen in 20 years—family stories and secrets (even the most traumatic of which is told with mordant wit), an interview with her mom, and even a visit to a cemetery she used to hang out at as a teen. Dad Jokes is teeming with Welch’s cutting humor and an almost thriller-like tension.

Working on the special has also given her a feeling of catharsis. “It definitely changed me as a performer,” Welch says, “because when I look back at Dad Jokes, I can see now how I’m way more open on stage, and it looks like I’m happier. I didn’t notice it at the moment, but I think I create differently now.”

This is evident in the new material the comedian has been using to open for Emmy winner Brett Goldstein on his The Second Best Night of Your Life stand-up tour. And although the material from the special is retired, Welch has generously gifted us some new dad jokes for old times’ sake.

Welch and Brett Goldstein at the Emmys in January 2024.

Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

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Here are some budget-conscious gifts Mo Welch would’ve given her dad for Father’s Day, had he been around.

A gift under $10:

“A Cricket Phone. I don’t know how much these actually cost, but judging by the name, they have to be five bucks.”

A gift under $50:

“A ‘Mo Welch Recreation’ basketball jersey. Daddy (not sure what to call him, actually) can wear this when he finally makes it to a game. Better late than never!”

A gift under $100:

“A full tank of gas, for the next time he needs some space from his entire family.”

A gift under $250:

“Half of the cost of my teen trip to Fort Lauderdale. My mom still claims I owe her for that.”

A gift under $500:

“Orchestra seating to see me open for Brett Goldstein. Just be sure to come a half hour late so you can completely miss my set.”

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