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How many puns will readers tolerate?

    “See that lady over there?” asked Jessica.
    “What about her?”
    “Every Tuesday she comes in and has a bowl of tomato soup.”
    “Always Tomato? Never, I don’t know, beef barley maybe?”
    “No. I think she’s souperstitious.”
    I groaned. “As far as I know, that’s not illegal.”
    “But she always argues about the bill. She says she’s a regular, so she should get it for half-price.”
    “Just for being a regular?”
    “Yeah. She says it should be a bulk bisque-count.”
    “That’s it. I’m never eating here again.”
    “She’s the one who says it, not me.”
    I stared at her from hooded eyes and I almost smiled. “Alright. I’ll be back for lunch.”
    “I’m glad you didn’t stew over it,” she said, disappearing into the kitchen. I rolled my eyes, dropped a few bills onto the counter, and made my escape.


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Comments

  • I think this works; assuming there's context around this interaction and we're clear that this is Jessica's personality.
  • oncewasoncewas Librarian
    It depends; if the work is comedy-driven you could probably pun as much as you want to. For anything else, go easy.
  • To answer your question, I would say thirteen unless you are souperstitious.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    It totally depends what you are writing, but so many in succession can get a bit annoying. Perhaps take up writing for Xmas cracker jokes instead?
  • It is indeed her personality. Earlier, during December, she proposed that he help her browse for narrow land bridges, but he refused to take her isthmus shopping.
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    Do you suffer from paronomasia?

    The problem with some pus if they don't work in the written word.

    Like this.

    Shakespeare walks in to a pub. The landlord shouts "you are barred!"

    R.I.P boiled water. You will be mist.

    Some can work.

    I bought some shoes from a drug dealer. I don't know what he laced them with, but I've been tripping all day.

    Thanks for explaining the word "many" to me, it means a lot.

    Don't trust atoms, they make up everything.






  • I must confess a lifelong affliction of paronomasia. I was raised in a family of book-addicts, and had two library cards before I could walk. I grew up on Reader's Digest and MAD magazine (back when it was funny), and had older brothers with rapier wits. As a result I was forced into verbal self-defense at an early age, and fell victim to paronomasia in grade school, an affliction from which I have found no cure.

    The life of a paronomasiac is not easy. Those who are aware of my affliction may torment me with punfights at any moment. Imagine never knowing when someone behind you will yell "Draw! ... an analogy that will make us laugh!" Worst of all is that there is no cure and no treatment. Puns are like gas, they come out at the worst moments, and there's no preventing them.

    It is a sad tale, like that of RaPUNzel, who was locked away for it, or PUNelope, whose husband would rather get lost at sea than listen to her jokes. Many Paronomasiacs have been sent to the Punitentiary, to Punama, or to Punnsylvania in an attempt to force them to reform... But alas, it is incurable, and suppression will only lead to pundemonium.
  • Much to the dismay of my friends, I love puns, too. The best ones don’t rely just on playing with the similarity in sound between words but playing with meaning and context as well. Kevin’s pun on the word “mist” is a good example of the best sort (while I don’t think his last two jokes are actually puns at all).

    A friend of mine turned down an offer to replace his aquarium plants with something more exotic because with fronds like his he doesn’t need anemones.

    The poor Eskimo drowned after building a fire to try to keep warm because you can’t heat your kayak and have it, too.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • One of my friends thought he was becoming a Japanese goldfish. I said, "Listen, don't be Koi with me." -- That is definitely a pun, though imperfect (Koi and Coy are not the same word).

    Tell me, what does "ubiquitous" mean? I've been seeing it everywhere. -- that is technically not a pun at all.

    A Chinese man was exposed to paint fumes and became disoriented. -- that is a perfect pun, because "orient" means both Eastern Asia and to learn one's location. It borders on insensitivity, however.

    A case in which a word has three meanings would be a double-pun, imho, as would a pair of words that have two meanings each: A man went to a doctor about a weak back. It started a week back. (double, imperfect because weak/week are not the same word).

    I recall a shaggy dog story from a Reader's Digest -- I want to say that it originated with Bennett Cerf: A man finds talking dolphins in his pool. They tell him that they will live forever if fed a seagull per day. The man rushes to the beach and shoots a bag of seagulls. On returning home, he finds a lion across his porch. It will not move, so he jumps over it -- And is arrested for "Transporting gulls across a staid lion for immortal porpoises." (quintiple imperfect).  (in the fifth grade, my peers usually didn't get it but it slayed the teachers).
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    Much to the dismay of my friends, I love puns, too. The best ones don’t rely just on playing with the similarity in sound between words but playing with meaning and context as well.

    True, but the problem with the written word is they are, well, written. It's like the Shakespeare one. He's known as the bard, but in print it does not really work. Shakespeare walks in to a pub. The landlord shouts "you are bard!"

     Kevin’s pun on the word “mist” is a good example of the best sort (while I don’t think his last two jokes are actually puns at all).

    No they are not really, I thought that myself, but they were on a pun site  :)

    A friend of mine turned down an offer to replace his aquarium plants with something more exotic because with fronds like his he doesn’t need anemones.

    Does that work? because they don't sound the same.

    The poor Eskimo drowned after building a fire to try to keep warm because you can’t heat your kayak and have it, too.

    Ditto. Aren't puns supposed to be a play on words that sound exactly the same? homonyms and whatnot. You can sea hear >>   http://www.magickeys.com/books/riddles/words.html
  • The words will work, with varying degrees of success, if they are even similar. The best are perfects (homonyms), homophones are the norm, and rhymes are fully acceptable. You've heard the joke about making an obscene clone fall... And as you drift farther and farther from the homonym, it is still a pun (imho) if the phrase you say makes people immediately think of the similar phrase you didn't say.

    Jessica's joke above, about taking her isthmus shopping -- Isthmus and Christmas are only vaguely similar sounding, so it's a stretch, even a bit of a groaner... but it seems to work.

    Remember that humor is a spontaneous reaction to the sudden revelation of an incongruity.

    And with that said, three men were walking down the street. The first walked into a bar. The second walked into a bar. The third ducked. (perfect). 
  • SeamusSeamus Creator
    I am getting such an education from this forum. Not useful knowledge, but knowledge none the less
    Tim Reinholt Author of Pow, a ski bum heist adventure
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    I will refrain from telling the joke about the doctor who told a young lady she has acute angina …  And the one who says to another > "big breaths."
  • SeamusSeamus Creator
    How come people always have a rapier wit and never cutlass, katana or scimitar wit?
    Tim Reinholt Author of Pow, a ski bum heist adventure
  • SeamusSeamus Creator
    I think I have Viking war axe wit
    Tim Reinholt Author of Pow, a ski bum heist adventure
  • As Lizzie Borden said to her parents, "I'm not gonna axe you again!"
  • I guess you could say I have a guillotine wit: My punch lines keep getting cut off...
  • SeamusSeamus Creator
    I've heard that puns and word play can get lost in translations and over time. Like Chauncer and Shakespeare may have been way funnier than they get credit for by modern readers. 
    Tim Reinholt Author of Pow, a ski bum heist adventure
  • Seamus said:
    I've heard that puns and word play can get lost in translations and over time. Like Chauncer and Shakespeare may have been way funnier than they get credit for by modern readers. 
    Apparently there is a trend how for Shakespeare plays to be read in the "Original Pronunciation" instead of the King's English. They reconstructed the OP based on puns and rhymes that don't work otherwise. The result sounds a bit Pirate-y...
  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upstart_Crow
    Kevin, "Upstart Crow" was such a brilliant series. I watched every episode. Ben Elton, who wrote it, is exceptionally talented.

  • SeamusSeamus Creator
    Ha, I like those! Reminds me of this one my Dad used to recite
    THE PEE LITTLE THRIGS

    To the late, great Archie Campbell we owe the story of The Pee Little Thrigs:

    The first pittle lig came down the road widen a raggin'. The farmer asked him what he had and he said he had a stroad of law -- he was going to build his strouse out of haw. So he did -- he built his strouse out of haw. The big, bad wolf said, "Pittle lig, pittle lig, let me come in." The first pittle lig said, "Not by the chair of my hinny, hin, hin." The wolf said, "Then I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll hoe your blouse down." So he huffed, and he puffed, and he hoed his blouse down. The first pittle lig ran away.

    The second pittle lig came down the road widen a raggin'. The farmer asked what he had and he said he had a stoad of licks -- he was going to build his stouse out of hicks. So he did -- he built his stouse out of hicks. The big, bad wolf said, "Pittle lig, pittle lig, let me come in." The second pittle lig said, "Not by the chair of my hinny, hin, hin." The wolf said, "Then I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll hoe your blouse down." So he huffed, and he puffed, and he hoed his blouse down. The second pittle lig ran away.

    The third pittle lig came down the road widen a raggin'. The farmer asked what he had and he said he had a broad of licks -- he was going to build his brouse out of hicks. So he did -- he built his brouse out of hicks. The big, bad wolf said, "Pittle lig, pittle lig, let me come in." The third pittle lig said, "Not by the chair of my hinny, hin, hin." So the wolf huffed, and he puffed, but he couldn't hoe his blouse down. Then the big, bad wolf went up on the roof and came down the chimney. The pee little thrigs were ready for him and he landed in a pot of boiling water.

    So the pee little thrigs had wolf stew -- seasoned with a little bacon and some pigs' ears.


    Tim Reinholt Author of Pow, a ski bum heist adventure
  • My favorites among the Archie Campbell stories were George Birthington's Washday and the story of Cinderella and her Sad Blisters.
  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    I'd like to hear the story of Cinderella and her Sad Blisters, Skoob.  :)
  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    I don't think so Kevin, they're "bisters" not "blisters"  :)
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    Dunno, but would a Spoonerism not be Sgly Uisters?
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