It’s a punderful life

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Though my reign as The Peak’s humour editor has only spanned a couple of weeks, I’m inclined to say that I’ve been funny for a couple decades now. An official paycheque for my humour is as validating as it gets, but — at least in my mind — throughout life, I’ve always come back to humour as a device.

Humour is a way to meet new people and engage; a way to diffuse awkward situations; a way to cheer someone up and let their happiness osmosis over to me. The point is, I love to joke around and I can rarely go long without making some kind of quip or cackle. My favourite type of humour? Puns.

Puns are frickin’ amazing. They’re like the humour editor of the joke world: it’s hard to take ‘em seriously and sometimes they try a little too hard, but if you lower your expectations and inhale some nitrous oxide, you might just get a laugh out of them.

Though, I’m not saying every pun is worth writing an editor’s voice over. Every time I hear someone make a “camping is in tents” joke, I feel a happiness molecule inside of me die from rolling its eyes too hard. Lazy, overdone puns give the genre a bad name and we should all agree to a 100-year moratorium on them — if everyone who’s heard that joke is dead and gone, only then will it ever again be considered original and funny. Moral of the story: quit making the same fucking joke.

Puns have made some powerful enemies over the years.

As a form of humour, puns rarely get the praise they deserve. Have we become desensitized to the wit that comes with clever wordplay? Is the pun market over-saturated with dad’s one-liners and internet commenters?

Puns have made some powerful enemies over the years. In 2010, Jon Stewart ripped wordplay a new one, in a segment where he called out news sources for distracting from reporting the news by having some kind of pun attached to it. While clever headlines make the news all the more bearable for me, Stewart has a point when you think about how much time went into pun-construction instead of actual journalism.

Even Samuel Johnson, the famous English writer behind such triumphs as A Dictionary of the English Language and The Lives of the Poets, reportedly called puns “the lowest form of humour” — though keep in mind that “Your mom . . .” jokes likely hadn’t been discovered by this point. If humour was a totem pole, puns would probably be the part that’s underground.

I’m saying that puns are my favourite form of humour, but I also think that it’s impossible to create a universal hierarchy to humour. Plenty of people scoff at internet memes because they generally take the same joke or idea and just apply it repeatedly to different scenarios but that doesn’t make them any less funny. Look at knock-knock jokes, for Christ’s sake.

What do I hope to achieve by writing about puns in my once-in-a-semester opportunity to address The Peak’s readers directly? To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure. Maybe I want you to see puns as more than just the early symptoms of a ‘dad sense of humour’ or a funny banner reading along the bottom of the evening news.

Mock puns all you want, but in a world where the highest-rated comedy on television — and by a substantive margin, I might add — is The Big Bang Theory, I’ll get my kicks from somewhere else. It’s all for puns and puns for all.