Warning: severe eye-rolling is imminent since the standard of wordage that’s to follow could scarcely be any cornea.
It’s time to admit that at a certain time in my life I suffered from an addiction. It was something that began as an innocent fascination when I was very young and then grew steadily to a point of unhealthy obsession whereby I was no longer in control of my impulses. I’m not ashamed now to confess that at one point many, many years ago I was addicted to doing the hokey pokey. But through effort, determination and the love of a good woman, I managed to turn myself around.
As part of my therapy I took up playing the violin, under the dedicated tutelage of my wife, who, even back then and still today, refuses to play second fiddle to me or anyone. It was around this time I decided also to become a vegetarian, which I had been warned would be a big missed steak. I checked with the doctor and unexpectantly he diagnosed me as being color-blind. Can I tell you that was a diagnosis that came completely out of the purple.
It also reminded me of the time I told my wife she drew her eyebrows too high. She seemed surprised, and to get back at me, starting telling a lot of excrutiating bird puns. I soon realized that toucan play that game and started dishing back my own insect puns. I knew that would really bug her. Finally though we ceased our marital word wars since we both knew that peace on the homefront was our shared respunsibility.
Had enough? Or did you leave mid way through to fetch some dried crackers to go with the cheese? Promise now I’ll be good. For the rest of this post, which could just have easily been titled WHEN DAD JOKES HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE, I’ll refrain from overusing what many people look down upon as the most grovelling form of wit. My aim is definitely not to make you as unhoppy as a frog stuck in mud. Ooops..
Joe Berkowitz is the New York author who spent a year investigating the sub-culture-like world of competitive punning. The result is his newly released book AWAY WITH WORDS. It takes an indepth look at punning contests around the world including the Spoken Word Punning Championships held every year in Austin Texas. The O. Henry Pun-off is a yearly PUNDERDOME-style challenge that asks contestants to stage up and deliver a two minute pun-addled monologue before a live audience.
The link below will take you to a performance by past winner Jerzy Gwiazdowski (that’s the guy’s name) who delivers a baseball-puns filled piece of stand up comedy gold. The best part for me however is the first sixty seconds prior to him actually speaking when he’s up on stage having to endure the overlong introduction by the guy in the American flag shirt. His expressions of forced politeness as he waits for the slightly annoying MC to finish are for me every bit as funny as the buttery corn that follows.
For me, I reckon puns put the fun in dysfunctional. These competitively staged live wit-wars also provide an outlet for closeted punsters the world over. This is a small victory and acknowledgement for those everywhere in offices and classrooms who likely turn blue in the face from suppressing groan-worthy wordplay all day. As these good folk I’m sure would join me in attesting, a great pun is its own reword.