On May 19th, Austin, TX will play host to an annual event of non-earthshaking proportions.
THE O. HENRY PUN-OFF:
AUSTIN’S THIRTY LITTLE SECRET
A little history is in order – starting with the ISTPF -International Save The Pun Foundation (who knew??):
Founded by the late John Crosbie in 1979, the International Save The Pun Foundation has become the world’s largest and fastest-growing apocryphal society. Since one person in five in North America is a functional illiterate, and since everywhere the little red schoolhouse is full of too many little-read students, the Foundation exists to arouse a greater interest in reading by encouraging people to have fun with words.
To quote from their history:
The current chairman of the bored, Norman Gilbert, is a financial planner based in Toronto, Ontario. He first subscribed to the pundit in 1984, after hearing John Crosbie in a radio interview, and has never looked back. When John died in 1994, Norman acquired the rights to the Foundation from John’s estate, the transaction taking place, appropriately, on April Fool’s Day.
Under Norman’s leadership, the Foundation’s 1,600 members continue to stumble onward, spreading the good (and sometimes not-so-good) words, and scattering their gems of linguistic libertinism about them like Johnny Appleseed, although perhaps not always with the same level of appreciation. Hysterically screaming “Up the pun!”, this unruly band of rebels may be found waving tattered copies of the pundit, and storming the barricades of grammatical rules and regulations around the world. From Australia to Zimbabwe, wherever they are erected by the steadily retreating phalanxes of pedants and self-appointed guardians of our language, the barriers are falling, and people are having fun with the language, thanks to the unceasing efforts of Norman and his plucky crew.
With great hesitancy, I bow to my love of words – and my admiration for the truly awful pun – and present two of last years winners of the pun-off.
There is a time-limit of 90 seconds for contestants…to which can be added 30 seconds making a total of 2 minutes. Quite long enough to listen to a string of puns I would say. There are two divisions: Punniest of Show and High-Lies & Low-Puns – and each division is limited to 32 participants.
(hint: read it carefully)
The graffiti on the PLATHroom wall was simple: “For hot one-on-one word play, call 1-800-WORDCORE.
And so I call, and she answers, and she jumps right into it.
She says, “Are you ready for some aural sex?”
And I say, “Oh, yes!”
And she says, “What are you drinking?”
And I say, “A tall tequila mockingbird, what are you drinking?”
And she said, “A nice vodka milkSHAKESPEARE. You sound so buff…have you been working out? I can tell you have tight vocabs. I’ll bet you have a huge dictionary.”
And I said, “Oh yes, indeed, it’s the Oxford English Language Dictionary. 151 pounds of pure…definition.”
And she said, “I want you to give me multiples right now!”
So, I purred, “Onomatopaea!”
And cried, “More! More!”
So, I moaned, “Supracalifragilisticespialidocious!”
And she said, “Don’t fake it. Give it to me RILKE.”
So, I whispered, “Antidisestablishmentarianism…”
And she screamed, “Affirmative! Affirmative! I want you to rap for me! Now!”
And I said, “What? Rap? I can’t rap!”
And she said, “But rappers are SO sexy!”
And I said, “I can’t rap! I was a Lit Major!”
And she said, “Oh, go PLATH yourself! I know you’ve got a superior WHIT, MAN, so just pull out your DICKENSON and start KEROUACKing now!”
So, I said:
My words are warm wool slippers, put your poor, cold feets in
they’ll lock you up like Alexander Solzenitzen!
I’m cooking up lyrics like I was a chef, see?
I’ll give you Rhymes and Punishment like Dostoyevski!
Before you step to me, you better back the heck off,
‘cuz I’ve got more plays that Anton Chekov!”
She said, “You need to slow down, why you be Russian? By the way, you sound a little gay… Are you a homophone?”
And it was then that I realized this wasn’t really working for me. We were just two relationships passing wind in the night, crashing into the same GINSBURG.
–Eirik Ott (copyright 2006)
AN ANIMAL DICTIONARY
Four years ago I stood here and presented an ABC primer on animal puns. Since Richard Lederer and I now have a new book out (titled THE GIANT BOOK OF ANIMAL JOKES), I thought it would be appropriate to present an all-new alphabetical primer on animal puns, with completely different animals. Here I go:
I will not cast ASPersion on my previous performance, but I will BUCK the trend of not using the same theme. I just hope it doesn’t become a CATastrophe and I start DRAGON my feet. And I hope no one will feel any EEL will towards me, as I just want to have a lot of FAWN. In fact, I’ll GOAT to any length to keep these animal puns going forever and HEIFER. I’ll tow the line and try not to give up an INCHworm, as I dig for more animal puns. If I have to search for animal puns at night, I’ll use a JACKAL lantern. My goal, as always, is to keep up the KOALAty of these animal puns. If I can offer any tips to anyone, just LEMUR know. If you’re not sure, merely MULLET over for a while. But don’t be bashful; because, in this case, no news is bad NEWTs. If I’m ever in your neighborhood, I’ll stop by for a visit if OPOSSUM by your house. And I’ll drive carefully, since I don’t want to be accident PRAWN. If I come, I promise not to QUAHOG the conversation. You must think I’m a RAVEN lunatic to keep up this SHRIMPly awful animal punning, when in fact it actually makes me THRUSHed with delight and URCHIN to tell even more. So, are you VIXEN to invite me over? If so, I think WEEVIL have a good time. We could sit around and talk about the death of some skate and ray fish, commonly know as X-
RAYS. Or we could dress up, go out, and YAK it up. Finally though, if a female is invited, she should be sure to wear (as the French say) ZE BRA.
–Jim Ertner (copyright 2006)