How to Make Puns Without Making Enemies

Puns have long been the ugly stepchildren of comedy, ridiculed for generations as the dull weapon favored by overly diligent fathers and uncles. But what was once considered the inferior form of humor has slowly climbed the rankings, and the pun has changed in recent years. With the rise of puns competitions, including the seven-year Punderdome event in Brooklyn , the pun has come to resemble something of a kind of art, or at least colorful graffiti.

In the right context, a pun can be transformed from a blunt taunt to a stabbing weapon that takes away the pomp of a situation that is too serious and brings much-needed frivolity to any interaction. This is the ideal form of armed stupidity for our utterly dumb modernity. As pun champions ourselves (Sam is the reigning Punderdome champion, Tim honed his skills while working at Pun valhalla: New York Post ), we are often asked for tips on how to use puns to impress your friends and colleagues. or at least so they don’t want to stuff your mouth with cotton. Here are some professional tips for public pun.

Kara for a good reason

Just like doing CrossFit, trying to juggle, or stepping into any story that begins “I had the strangest dream last night,” you should really think about why you’re trying to pun before you go over your head and tire everyone out. Puns are not jokes, they are not “beat”, they are not a five that can be played with an open microphone. The pun is more like a side dish on a conversation platter, a sprig of parsley on a ready-made plate.

Here are some reasons why you might want to publicly disenchant:

To improve small talk a little : Silly small talk and the repetitive clichés that attack us every day can strangle even the most skillful interlocutor, but a pun can bring him back to life. Example : When talking about the weather, someone might say, “This blizzard hasn’t been big yet, but it’s still early.” To which you can answer: “Yes, wait until four; discard your opinion then. “

How to deal with the horrors of the world: The world has now turned into one big front page of tabloids, and it all deserves a campy headline to take the edge off. Example: When it comes to Donald Trump’s many alleged crimes, you might notice that he should join the Russian Olympic luge team because he loves to ski together .

To Throw a Good Party: Holiday parties and themed events pave the way for puns on everything from costumes to appetizer names and decorations. Think Oscar parties with snacks such as Crepe with Water or Timothy Chalea Mezze ; Super Bowl party featuring Justin Timberlatkes and Rye Eagles Rye cocktail . The Halloween party we both attended this year had rooms split into Brooklyn’s eerie neighborhoods: Scare-oll Gardens, Prospect Frights, Clowntown Hell, Braaaains-on-Hurst (for non-residents, these are Carroll Gardens, Prospect Heights, Clinton Hill and Bensonhurst., Respectively).

Some pun rules

Public pun etiquette is not fundamentally different from ordinary conversation: it requires a certain amount of social grace, but you still have to make it seem natural. And in the absence of Emily Post’s present guide to puns, here are some golden rules to follow:

  • The pun is not the climax. Never use single puns or twisty jokes that end in one word. You run the risk of being dubbed “this guy” right away at the party and not being avoided for the rest of the evening.
  • Don’t try to use a pun on someone’s name. Trust me, anyone with a monosyllabic name or nickname (like Hope, Will, Gun) has heard puns before and now hate them all. (This rule holds true for any obvious joke that comes to your mind about someone’s name, pun intended or not. They’ve heard it before and they hate it.)
  • Don’t prepare puns in advance. It’s the equivalent of getting into a rap battle with pre-written rhymes. They should be spontaneous!
  • Don’t use obvious puns. Subway posters and sandwich boards attack us every day, offering “egg” specials and anything that rhymes with “fake news!” These are Borat’s puns (and should have been thrown into dust as well since 2006). By now, everyone knows that sweet dreams are made of cheese and that going vegan is a huge steak missed . TL; DR: If you’ve seen it on the sign, needless to say.
  • Use puns to improve your joke, or shorten the mention in conversation! You just have to scroll through Twitter to see some examples of this in action.
  • Recognize a window of opportunity. Puns quickly become obsolete. If you need more than 10 seconds to throw the pun aside, the moment is over.
  • Read the room. And the reason.
  • The rest of the rules of ordinary society still apply. Never use puns to make fun of someone’s appearance, sexual orientation, or gender.
  • Recognize when the word play quota has been reached. At some point, no one, not even you, will tolerate another pun. A good deal is when the person you are talking to stops playing along or tries to steer the group away from the pun you are attacking.

Do your weird search

Imagine the pun was a college subject in 2018. A required reading would probably include: “John Pollack’s pun goes up too” ; the canon of William Shakespeare; a lot of rap (in particular, poems by Lil Wayne and Childish Gambino); every episode of Bob’s Burgers . More recently, journalist turned-pilgrim by pun, Joe Berkowitz even wrote Get Out With Words, which looks into the world of American wordplay competition. Puns can be a bit of a subjective art form, but there is still an established standard of quality and understanding, so look for it and study it.

We looked at why, when and what to punish publicly. As for the “how”, then, of course, there is no beaten path to becoming a champion toddler. But practicing some of the techniques below can certainly help you start to find joy in it (and that’s all, anyway, the best puns really leave us).

Connect your thoughts

Puns are loose associations, so let yourself get hung up on the word or topic you want a pun on. Unless you’re attending the annual O’Henry Pun in Austin, no one is going to judge you about what really counts as a pun and what is just a good pun, so let yourself be dabbled in rhymes, words, sound analogs, etc. lateral words or concepts. This will help you get out of the low-hanging fruit trap: of course, anyone can tell when you complain about the subway that the MTA needs to get back on track . But do your best and call Andy Byford, the guy who just got on board to rescue the subway, came from Canada. He heard that the role of a leader in the subway is empty, huh?

Cliche away

The key to unlocking words is denying expectations, so you can and should draw inspiration from clichés, idioms, old proverbs, and tired songs. Take a page from the headlines in the daily newspapers that always try to use clichés in their news feed. Such winners as “Iraq and Nakovana place» (The Daily News, 2014 ), “Cloak and fuck her» (NY Post, 2012 ) or “How do you solve a problem like Korea?” ( The Sun, 2006 ) stand out precisely because they repeat phrases we’ve all heard many times before.

Develop aural fixation

Practice a different way of listening. Standard party etiquette dictates that we cling to every word of the speaker, but the pun relies on false rumors, garbled words, and monde green. So allow yourself to start noticing the sounds of language in conversation and imagine what the word might be if you didn’t hear it, or if you mixed the two together. “Sorry, you said camping in tents? Or intensely? ” ETC.

Stick to the landing

Let’s say you’re at a trendy party and overheard someone striking a devastating blow in the field of wine knowledge. It would be “the savage ‘s own cabernet “. Stick to the landing while pronouncing the “savage” part, and don’t make the mistake of confusing things by trying to blend in with the “sauvignon” pronunciation. This will not make your own whine.

Beware of salt

Most importantly, using puns in public is like sprinkling salt: a little salt can add flavor, but too much can ruin the entire meal. And if you take them in moderation, they are completely healthy for a joke.

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