Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What's Wrong with Puns?

Remember that article I linked to on puns in March? Well, here's another one, this time defending puns and questioning why Americans hate them so much.

I don't know. I like puns (though some of my Dad's puns... heaven help us). And I seem to be surrounded by them: puns appear in the comics, in book titles, newspaper headlines, e-mail forwards, and restaurant names (i.e. Thai One On). If Americans hate puns, then we sure are a masochistic society.

I think we're both addicted to puns and ashamed of our addiction. Is this dislike a mild sort of classism? Most puns can be understood by anyone who speaks the language, so they're a populist form of humor, linked to "lowbrow," commercial texts.

Of course, specialty shops continue to sell t-shirts, mugs, and tote bags adorned with jokes for their niche market. Is my Dad's t-shirt with the ancient mathematician and the slogan "Here's looking at Euclid" a more acceptable form of humor than your garden variety pun? Or just as groaning-inducing?



  1. Nothing's wrong with puns! I love puns! (You've probably picked up on that recently, hmmm?) And I certainly get the impression that most people don't really hate puns, but sort of play along with the notion that it is a "low" form of comedy. They groan and protest, even as they laugh at it. I think people really secretly love puns, but they're afraid to admit it.

  2. I think it's the nature of puns that make me groan. They're usually so cheesy! I've seen some cute ones, and I appreciate their cleverness, but I typically don't acknowledge them when spoken in conversation. Of course, then there's that silence where the other person is like, "Get it...? Huh? HUH?!" And I'm like, "YES, I GOT IT, AND I KNOW YOU DID TOO, so why do we have to pretend it was funny and laugh out loud about it?"

    Greg is notorious for doing this to me. I usually pretend to be deaf. If I exert energy to a response, it's usually in a glare that says, "You really should know me better than this."