Some people say puns are the lowest form of humor.
The real problem, I believe, is that it takes too little effort to make a bad pun. The good ones are somewhat rare, so enjoy them when they come. When puns ring true, there is no other form of humor that tickles your brain the same way.
Saturday was the 34th Annual O. Henry Pun-Off World Championship.
Yesterday, Liane Hansen of National Public Radio’s “Weekend Edition” interviewed John Pollack, the 1995 champion of the Pun-Off, who has written a new book “The Pun Also Rises.” Listen to the interview in NPR’s media player or check out the story “Not Jest For Pun: A Surprising History Of Wordplay,” which includes an excerpt from the book.
Before getting to this year’s contest, I’d like to share a few of the “Best Stressed Puns of the Millennium,” as voted on by the International Save the Pun Foundation, which puts on the pun-off:
Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, but when they lit a fire in the craft it sank proving once and for all that YOU CAN’T HAVE YOUR KAYAK AND HEAT IT, TOO.
Which is the most feared of the forest inhabitants?
A hawk claimed that, because he had the ability to fly, he could attack anything from
above, and his prey wouldn’t have a prayer.
“Due to my strength, no one would challenge me!” said the lion, pride fully.
The skunk, incensed, said, “I need neither flight nor might to frighten off any creature!”
The trio were debating the issue, when a grizzly bear came along and swallowed all,
HAWK, LION, and STINKER.
One frog croaks to the other, “TIME’S FUN WHEN YOU’RE HAVING FLIES!”
“If ‘pro’ is the opposite of ‘con’, what is the opposite of congress?”
And here’s an actual entry related to water by Carmen Petrick from the 2009 Pun-Off:
WATER you all doing here? I DRINK I’m in the right place, but everything’s a WHIRLPOOL. I SINK I’ve been here before. Is this a SPLASHback or maybe DEJA BLUE? I know it was a dream, and EVIAN of you was in it. I was up here telling puns hoping to be HYDRATED and QUENCH a victory, but I got HOSED down by the judges. Their scores ranged from H2O, which is below BEVERAGE. OZARKA not good. I thought, “Ow, those scores SMART, but who cares? SOAKED WET? I’ll CULLIGAN and DRY OUT next year.”
In my dream I was wearing my GLASSes, which was a real DRIP because, while I don’t mind wearing them at night, I 8 GLASSES A DAY. Yeah, in the day AQUIFER wearing contacts. So in my dream, my glasses had a big CREEK in the lens, but there were some folks from England down in the front, and one BRITA FILTERound and found an extra pair. She WAVED, “I’ve got a PERRIER!” I put them on, and I could SEA!
I was just starting to DILUTEn up, when this little boy PROPELed a paper airplane, and it FLUID right at me…just MIST my head. I didn’t want to EVAPORATE the situation, but I was a little IRRIGATED. I said, “BOIL, until I’m through, can’t you HYDROPLANE?” And he said, “What are you gonna do? TSUNAMI?”
Then someone TRICKLEd me into dancing. I’m so GULPable. A GURGLE like me really shouldn’t dance because for the MOIST part, I can’t get DROWN. I just stand DISTILLED in one place. My SIPS were all BOTTLED shut, and I had to use my knee CAPS to TWIST TO OPEN them up. Then I went off the DEEP END and started to sing, like this:
[rap beat] I wear DASANI jeans. In the heat, I SELTZER (I SELZTER)
I got the whole CLUB SODA lookin’ up herr (hey)
I felt the FLOW. Next thing you know, the French said,
“L’EAU, L’EAU, L’EAU, L’EAU, L’EAU, L’EAU, L’EAU”
And you all were like, “AGUA did she just do?”
And that’s when I realized it was all a STREAM.
If you can stand to hear more, check out the videos of actual presentations at this year’s Pun-Off.