A Brief History of Puns: Be Warned!
The first recorded pun was not recorded. Which pleased everyone involved including future historians. Sadly, like many destructive forces, military specialists began to study and utilize puns to gain strategic advantage over their adversaries. The most notable instance of pun militarization can be seen in the tactics of Alexander the Grape whose raison d’être was the use of puns.
Many have falsely assumed the word pun derives from the word “punish.” In fact, “punish” and other derivations such as “punishment,” “punitive” and “pundit” actually find their etymological origins in the word pun. For instance, individuals who are forced to hear a string of puns often feel harmed, mistreated, singled out or even judged by God. Thus individuals deserving of judgement eventually became known as individuals meant for puns or punishment. Pundits or pun-dits was originally used to classify individuals who try to hide their limited mental acuity with the use of pun word play. Eventually, pun-dits evolved to include all forms of idiotic word play.
Although very few specialists have been willing or able to dedicate time to the study of puns, certain unique characteristic accompany most puns. The following is a less than comprehensive list of the most common pun characteristics.
Bad puns will evoke a traumatic groan. Good puns will evoke a traumatic groan. This makes the differentiation between a good and bad pun impossible and pointless.
People who enjoy telling puns gain pleasure from the discomfort of their listeners. Consequently, they understand an audience groan as an invitation for just one more pun. The only way to stop the pun/groan chain is to remain still and silent or to simply walk or run away.
On certain rare occasions, two or more individuals may engage in the activity of creating and proclaiming puns. In such instances a subject such as cheese is punned into the ground until no Gouda idea remains. One of the most fascinating ancillary results of such a pun-off is the “pun-pause” effect. The “pun-pause” happens when the room falls silent as everyone desperately tries to think of the next pun. Unable to escape the need to say just one more pun, these “pun-pauses” can last for minutes, hours, or even in rare circumstances, days. The longest recorded “pun-pause” occurred when conjoined twins Bill and Bob Bringbart neither spoke, ate, nor slept for three weeks while trying come up with at least one more fish pun variant. Sadly, both died as a result of their prolonged “pun-pause.” Although the obituary stated “they died doing what they loved,” the police report listed the circumstances of their demise as “fishy.”
Puns have the ability to corrupt anyone. Even the most ardent critic of puns can become swept up in the irrational allure of pun making. One might even start a post scorning the use of puns, only to employ several groan inducing puns within that post. With this in mind, it is important to remember that even brilliant ideas can turn into meaningless pun-tification. This is true of the comment section as well.
Please someone help me, I can’t stop!
Doug Bursch blogs at www.fairlyspiritual.org and tweets Fairlyspiritual