Pun Of Your Business

One of the many reasons I love puns is that there are so many different kinds of puns to make in so many varying situations. This week, I decided to walk my readers through the varying types of puns, noting my favorite types and why.

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Genres of Puns

A lot of people don’t think about this — but there are actually many different kinds of puns out there. We lump any sort of wordplay into the three letter worded label “pun” but never think to look further at what linguistically is actually making it a pun. Puns are weird that way. We hear them. We take a minute to think. We laugh once we “get it,” and we move on. We rarely stop and deconstruct why we “got it,” or what finally clicked for us in our brains. Allow me to walk you through the genres of puns you’ve probably heard at one time or another.

  • Homphonic puns — What’s a homophone? It’s when two words have the same pronunciation but different meanings. Keeping that in mind, a homophonic pun is playing with a sentence by trading out a word with it’s homophone and creating a double meaning. For example: “Atheism is a non-prophet organization.” Prophet is creating a pun with it’s double meaning of prophet, as in religious leader but also profit, as in a business seeking to make money.
    • “To pun is to treat homonyms as synonyms” -Walter Redfern
  • Homographic puns — So, what’s a homograph? Words that are spelled the same but have different meanings. This means a homographic pun is one that plays with the ambiguities that come with a word that looks the same but means something different. These puns often rely heavily on reading them rather than hearing them as well as someone having the context of knowing the multiple definitions of the word. That’s why these puns can often be crowd pleasers or a hit and miss based on delivery. For example: “Something is fishy about that bass player.” This is playing on the multiple meanings of the word “bass,” one being an instrument and the other being a fish.
  • Compounded pun — If I were to go as a “Cereal Killer” for Halloween and cover myself with fake blood and cereal boxes. I am compounding the connotations of hearing “cereal” vs. “serial.” These, unlike the homographic pun, require sounds usually or saying the pun allowed to get it. That’s why you may be walking around the Halloween party like a nerd for a while getting strange looks until someone asks you “What are you supposed to be?” and you say “Cereal killer.”
  • Recursive Puns — These are odd. They require a lot of context and knowledge about a subject which can again, make them a hit of miss kind of pun. These puns require thinking backwards and connecting two concepts together. The best example I can give that illustrates this is the following: “a Freudian slip is when you say one thing but mean your mother.” This first requires processing Freudian Slip, then making the connection between Freud, mothers, and eventually an Oedipus Complex
  • Visual puns — They’re what they sound like. A pun picture. The best ones are the ones with no words at all because it’s almost like a puzzle to try and figure out what message is being said to you. You can test your skills with this visual puns quiz.

Subjects of puns 

Puns about Food

  • Nothing makes a meal more pleasant than pointing to a friend Tortellini and telling them their meal is going to be full of endless pastabilities.

Puns about Animals

  • If you have a cat and haven’t taken the time to paws and take a meowment to admire their beauty, are they even your pet?

Puns on people’s names

  • Never be afraid to thank your friend Allyson for being a good Pal-ison, or to tell your friend Will when there’s a Will there’s a way, or to tell your grandmother she has everything down Pat. They may roll their eyes at you or see your efforts to make puns out of their names as a form of endearment. Punning on people’s names also makes for great birthday cards and birthday gifts if you’re ever stuck on what to get someone.

Situations when puns are told 

Puns as sassy comebacks

  • Puns are the perfect sassy clap back method. Whether you are still stuck in 2005 and do so with A Yo Mamma Joke, whether found in the lyrics of a clever rapper, or just a really juicy situation where you seize your opPUNtunity.
    • Fun example of a time I got roasted by a pun: I was eating in the dining hall and told one of many puns throughout the meal. A friend replied “Do you wear headbands because all your puns are a stretch?” Ouch. Had to put some Aloe Vera on that burn.

Pretending like you’re telling a long, important story and it all ending with a pun

 

The Accidental Pun

  • And we finally arrive at my all time favorite kinds of puns — the accidental pun! When someone makes a play on words without even thinking about it but then suddenly comes to the realization of what they’ve done and the most genuine, sincerest, purest of chortles exits their lips. What a glorious feeling to know you’ve accidentally made a pun.

 

Concluding Thoughts 

Puns are diverse. Puns are interesting. Puns are heavily rooted in contextual, situation, and connotative messages. They are as cognitive as they are communicative. Most importantly though — they are a pretty clever and cool way to spice up any conversation for better or for worse (but let’s be real, always for better.)

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Happiness Is A Warm Pun

My favorite part about telling a pun is not the act of coming up with and saying the pun itself, though that does give me much joy. My favorite part is the reactions I get from others after the pun is said. There are five reactions, archetypes if you will, that people fall under, no, fall punder, when they hear a pun.

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Halloween circa 2014

First, there are The Cheerleaders. These are the people who will always laugh at your puns, generally people you don’t know very well who haven’t been beaten down by your caustic punning away. They will encourage you to keep telling puns and often egg on your punning by sharing punny gifs and memes on your social media pages. These are the ones who will often give you pun paraphernalia as gifts for holidays and birthdays.The greatest cheerleader I ever had was my friend’s boyfriend. He met me once and insisted on exchanging phone numbers with me for the sole purpose that I text him puns. That was a hilarious, beautiful, slightly awkward and jarring task that I wholeheartedly took on.

Next, there is the Awkward Silence Squad. These are the people you encounter who will not understand your pun or find it to be too much of a stretch to make sense or even be called a pun. They may offer up a forced half laugh out of pity, but don’t be fooled; they were not drinking the pun Koolaid. It’s not that they dislike puns in general or dislike you. They simply did not get your pun. Maybe you made a King Henry VIII pun that you thought was Anne Boleyn but ended up being Anne BoleOUT. Maybe showing up to a pro Second Amendment rally wearing a bear suit and exercising your right to bear arms was seen by some as a little extra. Maybe your pun about spices was poorly thymed. Whatever the issue, your pun went unappreciated.

Then we come to The ComPUNtition. These are the people who also like to tell puns just like you. These people can be both blessings and curses in disguise. These pun enthusiasts can be blessings because you can pun back and forth with them for hours, volleying your best word play back and forth. They will always be there to validate and solidify your love for puns. However, this can backfire. When you tell puns as often as I do, it almost becomes your identity. You become the pun dealer who everyone comes to with all their pun pick me up’s. When someone else starts telling puns too it can make you feel like your puns are no longer number ones. I have felt this feeling before. I’ve had those moments when everyone is praising the other punster in the room and I’ve felt like chopped liver. While spreading the pun love and encouraging others to pun is always something I am for, once in a while I will feel a sense of envy for those who jumped on the pun first or whose puns garnered more laughs than mine. It’s petty, I know. But it can be discouraging feeling like no one cares about or wants to listen to your puns, that you are the pun has-been, or that someone else has word plays much wittier than yours. Of course the best cure to this setback is of course, to keep telling more puns.

Next comes the Fake News Gang. I say this in jest to make fun of our current Commander Cheeto but also because these people are often liars. They will groan and boo at your puns. They will tell you that pun you just made was terrible. But you know they secretly don’t mean it. They often cannot conceal the small and slight grin that spreads on their face. These may be my favorite group of people. Knowing my puns can potentially reach even the bitterest of curmudgeons and get a positive reaction out of them, no matter how much they might deny it, gives me purpose. It feels good to know I have possibly brightened the day of someone who probably hasn’t laughed in a while and is taking life a little to seriously.

 

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Meet my friend Nick, your typical member of the Fake News Gang. This was him reacting to a pun I told last spring. Don’t be fooled by his troubled exterior. He was pretty placid.

The last group are the Haterade Drinkers. These people are not to be confused with the Fake News Gang. These folks are the ones who will not only groan at your puns but will also try to silence them. They will tell you that punny headline you want to run on in the newspaper is not professional enough. They will tell you your pun t-shirts are childish. They will tell you that puns are the lowest form of comedy. Unlike the Fake News Gang, who just refuse to admit they enjoyed your pun but actually thought it was clever, this group will go to the end of the earth to get you to stop punning. But for all you pun enthusiasts out there combating a Haterade Drinker, tell them to switch to a new beverage, maybe some PUNch. Puns are a valid, creative, and artistic form of humor and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.