Jewish World Review August 22, 2002 / 14 Elul, 5762
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | This past May, Gary Hallock invited pun-up girls and pun gents from all around the whirled world to sharpen their pun cells at the 25th Annual O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships, in Austin, Texas.
Wise guys of both major sexes
Austin is, of course, the capital of Texas and the perfect place for capital pun-ishment. The event, held the first weekend in May nearby the 1891 home of turn-of-the century short story writer O.Henry, began in 1977. The Pun-Off typically attracts upwards of 400 pundits and punheads. "They just keep coming back because everybody is so annual retentive," winks Hallock, the event's lone arranger and cheerman of the bored.. "We don't mind people who are not punsters in the audience because we can enroll them in our Witless Protection Program."
As International Punster of the Year, an honor I received in 1990 from the International Save the Pun Foundation, I was invited to judge and to perform during the break between the first and second competitions. I continue to bask in the bright after glow of my rewording experience at the Pun-Off. The throng may be over, but the malady lingers on.
Punsters can compete in two events. In Punniest of Show, entrants have up to two minutes to perform a prepared monologue. In High Lies & Low Puns, punslingers shoot from the quip at each other, two or three at a time, dueling and fooling with a topic given on the spot. Subjects include body parts, music, sports, food and money, and each punslinger is allotted five seconds to fire off a topical prey on words. When contestants run out of bullet surprises, they're outta there. The last punster standing - this year it was Brian Snider, of Austin - wins the coveted first-place trophy. It's shaped like the nether part of an equine -- a blue ribbin' made horseflesh.
Jim Ertner, of Boston, Massachusetts, was voted Punniest of Show, after a tie-breaking clap-off with Tiffany Wimberly, of Fayetteville, Arkansas. Jim is my co-author of The Biggest Book of Animal Riddles, and his beastly monologue reveals what a party animal he is:
There's a little known animal that begins with the letter X. It's actually a Greek swordfish, spelled X-I-P-H-I-I-D-A-E, and it's pronounced ZIFF-EYE-IH-DEE.
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