DAD JOKES ON MARS
Commander, Crew 228
Disclaimer: The sequence of events has been modified for creative purposes.
We Areonauts followed all planetary protection directives set forth by COVID amendments to the COSPAR treaties. And we successfully prevented the spread of the terrestrial virus into a space virus. But no matter how careful we were, there was one pest that hitchhiked its way onto our spacecraft and now can never be stopped – the Dad joke.
Dad jokes cannot be sterilized. There are no vaccines for Dad jokes. They are extremophiles of the highest order, surviving anything you throw at them, including microgravity and radiation. This is unequivocal.
It all started soon after we exited the Karman line. A crew member (who requested anonymity) let out what was unmistakably a Dad joke: "Just look at the rotation of the Earth from here. It really makes my day! …. Get it?"
For the most part, we tactfully ignored it. But then the crew member added: “Wanna know why we’re not stopping at the Moon along the way? Because it’s full!”
I can’t help but think most of the crew said a little prayer that night in their staterooms, hoping that would be the end of it.
As the solar days turn to solar months, it has become clear we will see no end to the Dad joke. A pattern has emerged. First, a crew member will slip out a Dad joke. Then, there is a moment of silence, followed by a cacophony of groans. Sometimes, the crew will clear the room, essentially imposing an unspoken quarantine on the source of the joke, who is left alone to reflect on how they are no Jerry Seinfeld.
We each have been that person. And we each have reflected in isolation. But still, the Dad jokes continue.
"Hey guys, what is the most important part of our computers up here?" A crew member asked one day. "The space key!"
With that, we finally called Mission Control.
"Crew 228 to Mission Control. We might have the Dad joke up here. Can you confirm: when is a joke so bad it becomes a Dad joke?"
"When it’s apparent." Mission Control responded with a straight face. Then they laughed at their own joke for one minute straight. That’s when we knew – even Mission Control was infected!
In a last-ditch bid to rid ourselves of the pest, we wrote down the worst jokes that have been committed on Mars so far, and ran the paper through the compost shredder. But this purification ceremony only emboldened the Dad joke, which victoriously resurrected itself within minutes when a crew member blurted out an all-new-low variant of the offense.
We have since surrendered defeat to the Dad joke. And even though we weren’t trained for it, we have learned to cope with it and will share our strategies in an operational report.
It is possible that, one day, the social contagion that is the Dad joke will make the fateful leap from human beings to AI beings. And should the AI community recursively self-improve the cheesiness factor, it will emerge worse than what we can even imagine today. It will be so bad, it will be almost transcendentally bad. What happens at that point – to space exploration, to consciousness in the universe – awaits latently in the realms of science fiction. Only time will tell.
Today, I transmit a rather sobering report that the Dad joke will always go wherever humans go. And now that we humans have landed on Mars, it is here with us to stay.
What to make of this, I wonder? If we couldn’t leave the Dad joke behind, is it possible to prevent contaminating Mars with other human transgressions? The wars? The corruption? The pollution?
I can’t help but fret sometimes. I’m concerned.
Why, nice to meet you, concerned! I’m Dad!