So just what is it about puns that some folks reject out of hand and others just adore?
Some great minds have posited that puns are the lowest form of humor. And we all know that the using of a pun will garner you moans and groans … or worse!
Hmmm, good question, for which I don’t have the answer Just a lot of opinion, which, along with a couple or three bucks, will buy you a cup of coffee.
I used to like to tell my students that I had the answer to any question they could ask. Usually the answer is, “I don’t know,” but, hey, that’s an answer.
The same goes here. It is my belief however, that rather than the lowest form of humor, puns represent one of the more elevated realms of humor. Look at what it takes to make a pun: First of all, it takes a love for words and a pretty gramaphobic (a Wm. Buckley word) vocabulary, but added to that, one must have an ear for the language.
Ear, you say. Is it related to a musical ear? Mmmm … maybe. Because we all recognize that music is, most certainly and above all else, a language. It has vocabulary, it has syntax (you know, what you pay when you’ve sinned … cue groans) it has grammatical rules, but, most of all, it communicates. And then we have musical punsters, like Peter Schickley… oh, go ahead. Look him up. I’ll give you a hint: better known as P.D.Q. Bach.
But, I digress…
Puns have been used by about as many authors as have disparaged them. And then, there have been some authors for whom puns were a stock-in-trade. Bennett Cerf comes to mind, Ogden Nash, perhaps. And I’ll bet if you want to do the research on it, you would find puns scattered through the material of many authors.
Since puns are part and parcel of the genetic make up of my family, I will admit that we all seem to hear the language about three degrees left of center. What sounds like one word to some, elicits in our ear three or four synonyms or homonyms or antonyms or whatever kind of -nyms are out there, for the same word. Yes, the in-laws tsk-tsk, shake their heads and fail to see the humor… mostly.
But we of the Pun-tribe know, that deep down, all you non-punnsters and keepers of the groans are secretly envious of our lofty vocabulary and fine tuned ear.
Adrienne Jacoby is a 40-plus-year resident of Shasta County and native-born Californian. She was a teacher of vocal music in the Enterprise Schools for 27 years and has been retired for 11 years.
A musician all her life, she was married to the late Bill Jacoby with whom she formed a locally well -known musical group who prided themselves in playing for weddings, wakes, riots, bar mitzvas and super market openings. And, oh yes . . . she has two children, J’Anna and Jayson.
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