After All Is Said And Punned

This will likely be my favorite blog post and possibly the most groan inducing. I offer you — the readers — my deepest PUNdolances.

If there’s two things I easily and effortlessly am passionate about — its puns and journalism.

There are people out there, in particular some of my newspaper colleges at The Index, who believe puns are unprofessional and don’t have a place in journalism. Now, I may be a little biased, but I could not disagree more with this notion more.

Puns and journalism is a certain kind of craft in itself in that the pun needs to fit and supplement the story, it needs to make sense and most importantly — it needs to be used at an appropriate time. Not every journalism story or headline should have a pun.

However, to make a sweeping statement that no puns should belong in the media is both a lost cause — because puns already show up in journalistic writing all.the.time. —but also potentially devaluing or cheapening a story by not allowing it to truly shine and grab the attention it needs and deserves by giving it a punny title.

In high school I wrote for my school’s yearbook where we constantly were looking for new and clever ways to produce innovative feature writing and design. Puns were the answer and I was often the one in charge of coming up with them. When a yearbook colleague needed a headline for that lacrosse story I’d be the one to hop on idioms.com and list off puns like “ReLAX,” “Stick with it,” “Laximum overdrive,” and “Lacrosse the universe.” My favorite pun of all time that we used was for an infographic about people at my high school with interesting hair styles called “Hairy Styles,” making a pun on the word hairstyle but also on Harry Styles from the group One Direction. That was back before each of the members went off in five directions.

But I’m not in high school anymore. I work for a college publication and the rules are apparently different. For the past three years every Editor-In-Chief working for the paper has said repeatedly “no puns in the paper.” As a lowly staff writer I complied. As the news editor last year — understanding a decent amount of my stories would not lend themselves well to puns — I complied. But this year — as features editor — I put my foot down. Well, I put my paw down:

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Paws, and take a look. 

This was a pun so eye catching, so witty, so hilarious, so fitting for the tone and style of the story that even our current Editor-In-Chief Seth could not refuse.

I hope if you as readers take away anything from this post today it’s that puns do have a place in journalism. That being said there is a time to use them and a time not to. If Timmy falls down a well — please, I beg of you — don’t make the headline “Well, well, well, what do we have here?”

But when you are trying to add some comic relief to a softer hitting story or attempting to draw attention and wit to a hard hitting piece — a pun can be a way to do that.

Never let people tell you that journalistic writing has to be boring, mechanical, and dull. Journalism is a beautiful story-telling art. It’s finding hidden nuggets and jewels of information that will inform and/or entertain the public.

By simply twisting around a word into a pun on a page, a journalist can captivate an audience and compel them to keep reading the words they have oh so carefully crafted in the form of an important message about the world around us.

 

 

 

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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.