Anyone who knows me well, knows that I love a good pun. Heck, 99% of my social media posts that include a picture are accompanied by a caption full of wordplay and well the titles to my blog posts usually have something to do with a pun as well. Corny? Well maybe if you ask my brother, but deep down I know he, like most, appreciate a good pun. After all, they’re punny! Well, about 3 years ago we had some family over at the house and we began discussing my fascination with puns and my aunt mentioned that she had read about the O.Henry Pun-Off World Championship that is held nowhere other than Austin, Texas each year around mid-May. That was all I needed to hear, a pun-off world championship, not 80 miles from my house and I was sold.
However, finals were in full swing the Saturday of this competition and there was no way I would forgo my studies to attend it. Of course I was in the same predicament the following year and the year after that. However, by the time the third year of hearing of this event rolled around I was a senior and getting ready to graduate…my mindset was much different from my first and second year of college. It wasn’t that I no longer cared about grades, but I had a better understanding of balance and that there is a such thing as over studying. That brings us to today, I left my textbooks in College Station and headed to Austin for the highly anticipated O.Henry Pun-Off World Championship.
Go ahead make your jokes, but the creativity and the ability to think on your feet that the “punsters” exercised was phenomenal. The competition is held right downtown, a block off of Sixth Street and one would assume a great location for some characters. While the competition is certainly filled with nothing but characters, many of the “punsters” actually traveled from all across the United States and local competitors were pretty slim. The competition is broken into two parts, Punniest of Show and Punslingers.
Punniest of Show is a prepared “punny” story with a 90 second time limit. Each story had a theme that the puns were based on. For instance, one local competitor crafted a story using well known Austin landmarks, another told a story through US Presidents and another took full advantage of the Trump campaign….just to name a few! I’m not sure how many hours, days, or years it took to craft 90 seconds of whitty wordplay, but it was 90 seconds of pure cleverness.
The second part of the competition was the Punslingers competition. A pair of competitors were given a topic and each player in his turn had 5 seconds to deliver or begin delivering a pun and it was back and forth until one of the contestants failed to make a pun. Topics ranged from sports, to movie titles, to space travel and everything in between. After the first couple of rounds I really started to get into the mindset and flow of the puns. I begin mentally crafting my own puns based on the topic and I Strait killed the country music topic.
All in all, it was a great day and I anticipate attending once again! I’ll admit it was a bit on the corny side at times, but you cannot knock the wittiness of the “punsters” and their creative mind. For me, in addition to my personal fascination with puns it was also a great event for one who is about to graduate with a degree in marketing. Puns are creative and catchy and often times quite memorable because you have to actually think to catch the pun. Correct me if I’m wrong, but is that not the ultimate goal for marketers? Creative…catchy….and memorable, all tied into one! Just as the “punsters” were mindful of the topic, marketers have to be mindful of their target audience, once this is accomplished the creative, catchy and memorable puns or in marketing terms: slogan, brand name, tagline, product, etc. must follow to achieve total success. At the Pun Festival, the well thought out puns advanced to the next round, leaving the competition tongue-tied. Likewise, those with well-planned out and executed marketing campaigns surpass the competition.
Now it’s not like attending this competition was some educational experience that replaced the time I should have studying for finals, but it gave me something to think about and many ideas for future social media posts.
It was a pun day in Austin!