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VOL. 35 | NO. 19 | Friday, May 13, 2011

Lowest form of humor finds an allie

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A few weeks back I advocated the use of puns. Within days, maybe hours, of that column’s appearance, I received an email from David R. Yale, the “Pundit of Double Entendres,” as he is referred to on the title page of his book.

“I thought you’d want to know,” Yale wrote, “about the recent article in the ‘Journal of Sighchology’ by Professor Al Gerian ….” Al Gerian, huh? My antennae went up. Or out.

This article, Yale said, “suggests that pun lovers share some admirable personality characteristics.”

A dialogue was begun that resulted in my receipt of a copy of “Pun Enchanted Evenings.” Two subtitles elaborate: “746 original word plays – A treasury of wit, wisdom, chuckles & belly laughs for language lovers.”

On the copyright page, I found this: “Disc jockeys …may quote one pun per day, providing credit is given …”

In his intro, the author makes clear that, while others may have thought up some of the same material as he, the book was limited to original material only.

Also in the intro, Yale summarizes the Al Gerian article. My antennae were worn out by then.

“Pun Enchanted Evenings” is an attractive book, running about 100 pages and selling for $9.97 at bestpuns.com.

The book’s content is funny. Most of it, anyway. It is, after all, a joke book, a list of one-liners. Seven hundred forty-six, to be exact.

If humor in general is mostly subjective, then individual plays on words are all the more so.

The jokes vary in quality in all the ways one would expect. They run the gamut, from G-rated to R, say.

In my world, the expectation bar for a book of puns is pretty low. Yale’s crosses the bar. And it should, given his credentials. He is “an international direct marketing consultant,” living with his wife and daughter in New York.

Yale has published at least one work of non-fiction, “The Publicity Handbook,” and one novel, “Saying No to Naked Women,” which “includes a pun-cracking heroine,” which I suppose is better than a “heroin- and crack-using punster.”

(Sorry, I couldn’t resist that!)

Enough about the author and the format. Here’s a smattering of Yale’s wordplay:

• If your feet fell asleep for too long, they’d be coma-toes.

• If a knight unexpectedly gave you a large sum of money, you might be sir-prized.

• Are caps worn by French taxi drivers cab-berets?

• When a publisher floods the market with new books, is this a title-wave?

• The best serf at the manor is a champ-peon.

• Et-tu-mology is the study of Caesar’s last words.

• A ballpark infested with worms after a rain would be a wriggly field.

• Energy laws developed by physicists who are kin to each other are family joules.

• Mental exercise to make tooth extraction more bearable is transcend-dental meditation.

• Dog sleds may be left overnight in a barking lot.

• A powerful sleeping pill for cattle might be called a bull-dozer.

That should be enough to whet your appetite. The above are not quotes, but my condensations.

Yale’s puns are in question-answer format, for the most part.

On a page that purports to list review comments, the well-known Anna Littikl is cited for the comment “Pun-etrating Humor!”

In the almost-words of a ’70s song, “Who am I to diss-agree?”

Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at vicfleming@att.net.

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