Emily Conyngham

Emily Conyngham
Homey Airport, Nevada,
December 31
I Enjoy It
I couldn't make this stuff up! © Emily Conyngham All Rights Reserved


JANUARY 16, 2013 11:21AM

Performing Punnilinguists in Austin

Rate: 10 Flag


O Henry… That was great. I’m so glad I came. The 2012 O. Henry Pun Off World Championships in Austin last weekend was an occasion for the mother tongue to be flexed in unnatural ways, thrust and parried by the quick- witted masters and mistresses thereof. They do it jest for pun, or as they say, jest for a wordy cause.


The only spot for this fan of wordplay was on the metal folding chairs baking in the sun in the middle of the yard. Shorts had seemed like a good idea at home. About fifteen minutes into the line-up though, I began to poach. My thighs were slithering over that sweat-soaked seat, like chicken fillets in wine sauce. We didn’t mind the heat though, me and the studded girl with sea green hair next to me. We chicks in the middle, and those darn early birds in the shade, we all tittered when the puns were clever and groaned when they were terrible, loving all of it.


One of the things I had been looking forward to when I moved here was the Texan appreciation for fine repartee, for the phrase that lassos your conversation partner, bringing him to his knees, dumb as dirt. So, it seemed natural that Austin should host the Pun Off Championships. It was also fitting that the event should take place in the back yard of the O. Henry Museum.  How could I resist?


You probably remember O. Henry’s short story,”Gift of the Magi“from your American Lit class, the one where the husband and wife have an unfortunate miscommunication over Christmas gifts. Age old problem, I guess. What you may not know is that O. Henry wrote and mismanaged a weekly magazine called The Rolling Stone. That’s your trivial gift from me.


In fact, some bloggers will particularly appreciate that he could not earn his living writing, but earned a fine reputation for his wit and warmth. Age old problem, I guess.

The winners, not the Punners Up (groan), were from all around the country. The winner, Jerzy Gwiazdowski from Queens New York, was relentlessly spot on with his piece on the theme of American states.(“Does this seem Austin, Tejas to you?”).  From Austin, Gracie Deegan in second place told her version of the Euro crisis (“how come the Deutsche bags get left holding the bag?)  Benjamin Ziek’s “cheesy” love song to his girlfriend Brie (“Havarti think we can go?) came in third.


The afternoon ended with Punslinging. This is Texas after all, home of  stories where one hero walks away from the rest at the end. Dav Wallace, of Round Rock, you probably don’t wanna duke it out with him.


If, like me, you think mastery of the English language is sexy, check out the website and plan on coming next year.  Gary “PunMeister” Hallocksays, “URL welcome.”




* this piece was originally posted in May 2012/ 


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Austin is full of funny people at any time of the year, but this contest concentrates a lot of talent in one place.

A repost as the original was lost in technical shenanigans.
I would absolutely enjoy an outing like this, Emily. I usually groan at puns, but "jest for a wordy cause" made me laugh out loud.

You made my day.. I needed this..
L, there are hoots to be had all over this town. I am finding them out, slowly. I'll re-post a couple other things that got lost. I can think of at least three other new outings to take you on too.
In the course of my education some teacher said puns are the lowest form of humor. I guess she never heard of a whoopie cushion. One of my puns that family members still bring up and slap themselves in the head over, occurred while I was grilling brats on the deck of our rented beach house. Out of nowhere, a gull swooped down and tried to steal one. After I shooed him off, I was heard to say: "Well, that was a tern for the wurst." R
Har har har, GA! You got this gull laughing!
There's a soft spot in my heart for the first story I ever read by him, "The Last Leaf." Still a favorite. I think he was a genius. But that's just my opunion.
I need to read more of him, now that I am here. Remember his story Gift of the Magi?
I also learned recently that he was a convicted felon. Goes to show ya, it is never to late to be a writer.
I like puns and I like Austin taxes.
Lea, indeed, Austin is a fine place for many things...and the taxes, well, they are particularly nice as they are non-existent. ;-)
I'm glad you re-posted this so that we could read about this really cool event. I'd make a pun but I'm too intimidated by the tales of bold wordplay you've shared here. So cool!
A cunningly presented peak at a skill once thought to be low down in linguistics but known by some as requiring nimble and dextrous efforts to achieve best results.