CRF Blog

At the World Pun Championships

by Bill Hayes

In At the World Pun Championships, the LA Weekly’s cover story profiles some punners and their awful progeny.

Gruber speaks six languages and can pun in them all. Last year she moved to Monterey to get a master’s in teaching a foreign language, but her fellow students didn’t always appreciate her puns — like when a linguist named Dr. Walqui was giving a lecture, she went around asking if anyone was going to the “Walqui talkie.”

“Sometimes I’ll make a pun that I expect the class to laugh at it and they don’t,” she says. “We’re all language geeks, so why aren’t we appreciating it more? But it may be I’m out of line and we’re talking about something else and it’s not funny time, it’s serious time.” She recently left grad school and moved to San Diego.

The dinner also attracts first-timers, such as a tall Brit wearing a name tag that said D’arren Walsh….

Walsh says he won the U.K. Pun Championships, which took place in a comedy club. “I was the organizer,” he says. “I was also the judge.”

In London, he’s primarily a stand-up comic. “I have a very understanding girlfriend. Doing puns and having a girlfriend is accomplishment enough,” he says. Scanning the crowd, he adds, “I may be the only one.”

Most participants appreciate an environment in which they can let their puns loose without fear of glares. But there is pressure to measure up. When one competitor, Lisa Bonos, meets Walsh by the vegetable platter, he starts by saying things like, “There’s a DIP in the conversation.” She says later, “I was wondering if I was punning enough.”

At one point Gruber helps lead a discussion of favorite puns. One competitor says, “What’s The Onion newspaper’s biggest competitor?” Ziek quips, “Is it Wiki-Leeks?” The punster seems embarrassed as he reveals his passable but inferior answer, the Garlic Press. [more]