Someone once said that puns are the lowest form of humor. I’m not sure what that says about me because I love puns. Who wouldn’t laugh at something like: “I tried to tell the doctor that I didn’t want a brain transplant, but he changed my mind.” Or “The wedding was so beautiful – even the cake was in tiers.” Personally, I think a pun a day keeps the blues away.
The definition of a pun is “a joke exploiting the different possible meanings of a word or the fact that there are words which sound alike but have different meanings.” That’s a pretty dry description of something I happen to think is pretty crafty. Or so said one knitting needle to the other. There’s even another word for “pun” called paronomasia which sounds like something you might catch in a dirty swimming pool. But I digress. Puns have a long history in literature dating back as far as Plautus (c. 254 – 184 BC) Check out his epitaph:
postquam est mortem aptus Plautus, Comoedia luget, scaena est deserta, dein Risus, Ludus Iocusque et Numeri innumeri simul omnes conlacrimarunt.
See what I mean? The guy was hilarious.
Shakespeare was also known to use many puns in his plays. Even in a tragedy like Romeo and Juliet, he couldn’t help himself. When Mercutio was mortally wounded, he quipped, “Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man.” Really, how could anyone take him seriously? (He died by the way).
Did you know that there are actual groups of punsters that get together for a real pun time? Their conversation is mostly made up of puns. So someone might “rue-fully” mention that they were walking down a street in Paris when a guy threw milk and butter at him. How dairy! Or another person would comment that their small sweater fits great but it’s hard to pullover. Frankly, I think this would exhaust me - but only if I was sitting in my car.
I’ve heard that telling puns in an elevator is wrong on so many levels. So I’ll leave you with this from Fred Allen who sums it up nicely: “Hanging is too good for a man who makes puns; he should be drawn and quoted.”