As I’ve talked about before — there are no such things as bad puns but rather, poorly timed or poorly executed puns. Wordplay is inherently clever and smart, but it also needs to come with an ability to read social situations and properly insert a pun into those situations.
Any good punster knows there will always be those people who will inherently have to eye roll at your wordplay. But there is another obstacle we, as punsters, will encounter time and time again:
The failed pun.
For whatever reason, whether it be inappropriately timed, poorly executed, lacking meaning or clarity, or the audience are just a bunch of emotionless robots — there will always be those times when you utter your pun and no one will laugh, appreciate, or even acknowledge it — leaving you to fester n your own uncomfy silence.
I have my own personal example of when this happened to me just a few short weeks ago.
There I was, riding in my roommate Paige’s van on our way to a Latin Catholic mass. I am not Catholic, Christian or religious at all for that matter but was going as a favor to Paige on her birthday, because she loves going to Latin mass and wanted to share her love for it with me.
The mass went pretty well. I resisted many urges to make jokes and pun, only one escaping when I pointed to the church benches in front of us and made a “pew pew” noise. That garnered some quiet chuckles.
Things took an awkward turn on the ride home from mass. Paige had given two of her Catholic friends from the Newman Center a ride back to Kirksville from the mass so in the van there was three Catholics, one Episcopal (who happened to be Nick, my Episco-PAL,) and me.
During a lull in the drive I stated “What if Jesus was gay the whole time, and just saying ‘ah, men?'”
I chuckled to myself, as I always do when I tell a pun but noted the lack of noise from the rest of the car. No one was laughing but me. I felt like a buffoon sitting there giggling by myself, and also a little shame for potentially offending four Christians.
But I shook it off.
That’s all you can do as a constant pun making machine. Acknowledge the pun you just made was maybe not the most tasteful or tactful, remind yourself to be more consciously and culturally aware next time, and move on to the next pun.