Pun intended: Even Jesus enjoys the occasional pun
Sigmund Freud once said that the pun was the lowest form of humor. But Freud’s leather couch be damned — the man was sofa king wrong. What’s the real lowest form of humor? Anyone could tell you that at least mimes are worse. They must have slipped Freud’s mind — you know, kind of like how a piano could slip off of a ten-story building… onto a mother-effing mime. Talk about your edifice wrecks.
Oh, mimes. Even if they seem sharp, at the end they’ll always B-flat. What’s black and white and red all over? A bludgeoned mime — here’s hoping he was an organ donor.
The point is, a pun never trapped anyone inside an invisible glass box, a pun never put honey in your shampoo, and a pun never put a whoopee cushion on your seat. Puns span genres. Puns translate well to print (see above). Mimes, on the other hand, are very one-dimensional. Let’s take an in-depth look at a mime’s routine in print:
Puns have been ridiculed for centuries by figures as prominent as Freud and Coleridge. In addition to being called the lowest form of humor, puns have also been noted to not excite any response from those whose ears they have graced. Shakespeare made puns. After being stabbed, Romeo and Juliet’s Mercutio really gets to the point of the matter: “Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man.”
Leslie Neilsen is another example of a pun pioneer. Surely, almost all the humor in Airplane is pun-based. (And we’re sorry for calling you Shirley.) Even Jesus made puns. In Greek, the spelling of the name Peter and the word “rock” only differ by one letter, so who better for Jesus to ask to make the rock upon which his church would be built than — yes — Peter. Christ, that’s clever.
Politicians also make puns. Take George W. Bush for example. “Nucular War.” Note the subtle “nuke” — hilarious! Or Dan Quayle, spelling “potato” with an “e.” That joke must have been so good that none of us can ever figure out what he meant by it. Oh, wait. They’re just idiots. Well, at least it proves that the pun can serve as a clever alibi for those of us who aren’t terribly bright.
Jonathan Swift, of Gulliver’s Travels fame, found puns so worthy of positive attention that he wrote A Modest Defense of Punning. He used puns in most of his work, and was proud of his ability to make puns in multiple languages — he believed that it proved his adeptness at language and showed his large vocabulary.
If you’re a pun enthusiast, you can even find rules for punning. Thomas Sheridan wrote two pieces on puns, one called Ars Pun-ica, and one called The Art of Punning. The Art of Punning includes 34 rules for making puns, which concede that a punner may interrupt a conversation at any point in order to make a pun, and also that the punner must be the first to laugh at his own joke — which means that puns are good for self-gratification, too!
Puns are more versatile than other jokes. They can be academic in a primarily literary sense because of the double entendres they create, but they can be used profitably in a social context, too. They may even help you further your career. Witness the following conversations:
Mermaid: So [winks], do you have a girlfriend? Sailor: Yeah [sighs], but she’s abroad, so... Mermaid: c’Ouch that’s cold. And you’re sofa king hot! Sailor: You’re taking my bait. Let’s hook up. Mermaid: It’s about time! I love seamen!
Daughter: Hey, Mom! Mother: Hay is for horses. Daughter: Yeah, but Mom! Mother: Yabuts live in the woods. Daughter: Eff you. Mother: I don’t know how to letter myself.
Patient: Doctor, try to have a little patience. Doctor: Children? Not my specialty. Patient: Suture self. Doctor: Right. Anyway, we’ve tried everything. Even an IV, but it was all in vein. Patient: At least you didn’t bypass the opportunity. Weren’t you going to put me in a cast? Doctor: Yeah, but I was plastered.
Man, that conversation really left us in stitches.
Pilot #1: Do you roger? Pilot #2: What? I’m Frank. Pilot #1: Well, I appreciate your candor. Do you copy? Pilot #2: No, that doesn’t fly with me. I do my own work, and I always pass with flying colors. Pilot #1: Ah, impressive. It’s good to have friends in high places. I’m Jack, by the way. Pilot #2: Sweet. Hi, Jack! Pilot #1: A hijack!? I always thought I’d die from a terminal illness.
Wow, that conversation really took off.
When it comes to puns, there’s nothing to lose. If a joke ever falls flat, the only punishment is coming up with a new one. Why be a fraud (like Freud) when you can be Swift? Just remember, the pun is mightier than the sword.