Parts: Humor

Parts2Arnold, Tedd.  Parts. New York: Puffin, 1997.

The guest blog on puns, I recently posted was the first of two on humor.  I expect you could write an endless string of blogs on this subject, but for now I will stick with two.  Let’s face it, laughing and smiling are human behaviors.  Think about a very young, child playing peek-a-boo with a parent. It is a silly game and both are delighted with the activity.  I recently watch a short video of my one-year-old nephew playing this game with his momma. They both were clearly enjoying the game and were crowing with laughter.

As they grow and learn, jokes, riddles and puns are a way children learn to play with words and ideas.  Think of this knock, knock joke (one I heard many times from my girls).

Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
Banana
Banana who?

Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
Banana
Banana who?

Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
Orange.
Orange who?
Orange, you glad I didn’t say banana.

Some of the humor in this joke comes from association that bananas and oranges are both fruit and that orange sound a little like “aren’t”. I love young humor!  It can be infectious! Jokes like this one and others help children learn the interplay between words, sounds, context and meaning¹. They learn to move beyond the standard meaning of a word or words to look for other interpretations of what they heard².

Laughing is so good for you!  You know, Reader’s Digest has been running the section, “Laughter Is the Best Medicine,” for as long as I can remember.  It was their small way to bring better health to the masses.  Laughter relaxes you, boosts your immune system, and burns calories among other benefits³.

I encourage you to read a silly book to a young child.  It is delightful to hear their giggles! Here is a suggestion for you.  As I was looking for a book on puns for young children at the bookstore, I came across Parts by Tedd Arnold. It is not a book with puns, but is a very silly book.  It made me laugh!  What better book to share in an article on humor.

Do you have a worrier?  This young man is a champion worrier! Do hairs in the comb mean he is going bald?  Do boogers dripping from his nose mean his brains are leaking out?  Oh, woe, does the discovery of belly button fuzz signify the beginning of the loss of his internal stuffing?

Read this go book with a young friend and see what “parts” this boy does or doesn’t loose.  Maybe they have had a similar experience!

Here are two fun puns to enjoy.

  • Why did Tigger stick his head down the toilet??? He was looking for Pooh
  • What do you call a blind dinosaur? A Doyouthinkhesawus

Here are some supplemental articles that I found interesting and enlightening.

Go forth laugh, giggle, chortle, snort, snigger, crow, or howl.  Get even with you children or friends and make them groan with an excellent putn! Teach a child the value of a good pun and play with language!

  1. Pollack, John. The Pun Also Rises. New York: Gotham Books, 2011, p. xxiii.
  2. Language-Based Humor Development in Children: Jokes, Puns, and Riddles. https://prezi.com/-obsr5mq8rb8/language-based-humor-development-jokes-puns-riddles/
  3. Laughter Is the Best Medicine: The Health Benefits of Humor and Laughter. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine.htm

Guest Blog: Puns

PunRisesPollack, John.  The Pun Also Rises. New York: Gotham Books, 2011

This is the first of two parts on humor.  While some deride puns as the lowest form of humor, we here in Texas celebrate them with a special contest, the O. Henry Pun Off.  As you can see by the information below, I am a little late publishing this blog as this event happened earlier this month.  

O. Henry (William Sydney Porter) moved to Texas in 1882 worked at a little of this and a little of that. While his writing career didn’t take off until after he left our state, we have a tidy little museum in downtown Austin dedicated to his years in Austin. The annual O. Henry Pun Off is hosted on the grounds of this museum.  This year was their 40th Anniversary, so people have been making “punny” there for a long time.  We didn’t have a chance to go this year, so my husband, Jim, has contributed his thoughts on this form of humor.

Well, the O. Henry Pun Off is happening on May 13, 2017.  While I have never gone to one, I have read books and heard about it.  It is hard to miss in season since I live close to Austin, Texas, where it is held.  I have (and my entire family for that matter) be punsters.  Sometimes we will engage in puns for hours, switching topics from time to time.  My father once told me a story of about my grandfather, who was also a punster.  Apparently, his coworkers couldn’t take any more of the puns and took him and locked him in a storage room and said that he couldn’t come out until he told another pun.  To which, he said, “Oh pun the door” and was let out forthwith.

I have heard it said that puns are the lowest form of humor…unless you where the one who came up with it.  There is, I must say, something pleasing about hearing the groans of your friends and acquaintances when you let go an unexpected pun.  This disease is hereditary.  I like to pun as does my wife, Robin.  We have two wonderful daughters and they also are formidable punners.  There is, however, a distinct difference between the way my daughters pun.  My youngest daughter, Sarah likes to join in with the rest of us when we start to pun.  My oldest daughter Alexis fains disdain at these antics, but will let one go randomly when no one is expecting it.  She is the seldom, but devastating punner.

I am not sure what the attraction of puns is.  Somehow, there is satisfaction is using incorrect words that sound the same or similar to the correct word.  Part of the attraction, of course, is seeing if the recipient/target of the pun gets it.  If so, he/she usually groans.  If they don’t get it, you can humiliate the victim by explaining it.  A well-executed pun is a no-lose proposition for the giver.  If, however, a pun is botched, the tables turn and the attempted giver of the pun is subject to intense ridicule, as well they should.

So, pun “oily” and often.  Let all your former friends know just how smart and witty you are.  But, do so at your own risk.

Extra credit:  Read “The Pun Also Rises” by John Pollack