for one, was more than pleased to read in Bikwil Issue 4 (November 1997)
this Quintessential Quirky Quote of English musician/broadcaster Steve
order to enjoy an ingenious pun one has only to stop groaning like a
schoolboy and enjoy the thing like a man.
This is a
line from Race’s My Music, a rollicking book also quoted from by E.
Roy Strong in Bikwil’s mammoth Wagner issue (No. 10, November 1998). Most of the
puns in Race’s book are of course by Frank Muir and Denis Norden, who
extended the device into an art form, not only in the radio show My
Music, but in its forerunner and model My Word.
(Issue 5, January 1998) has quoted from Frank Muir, too, from his
Oxford Book of Humorous Prose, which I commend to you for some
audacious (and atrocious) Muir and Norden word plays. Muir also lists a
few (quite genuine) punning food-store and restaurant names in America,
like “Barnum and Bagel”, “Jonathan Livingstone Seafood”, and my favourite
(a pie shop) “3.14159”.
from Muir’s book, this time a headline from The Tatler about singer
Don’t Thigh for Me,
the above Steve Race line has been the only punster's delight in Bikwil,
the best of which was undoubtedly Dorothy Parker's marvellous
“horticulture” pun in QQQ No. 3. Hopefully there'll be many more
like puns as much as I do, you will be interested in a diminutive yet
thorough volume on the subject (and an Aussie one to boot) which I
recently picked up for five dollars in a bookshop remainder sale. It's
Paul Clarke and Joan Sauers' Pundemonium: The Step-by-Schlep Guide to
Humour's Lowest Form; its ISBN is 0 85561 694 6. Two hundred and sixty
pages, quite scholarly in places, devoted to the history and use of and
attitudes to the pun in everyday life and literature.
includes everything from Shakespeare to the Marx Brothers to James Joyce
to Mel Brooks to Noam Chomsky to the Carry On gang to Victor Hugo to Spike
Milligan to Carl Jung to Alan Alda to Cicero to Roy Rene.)
bloody funny too, of course: hundreds of puns in all their ghastly
splendour, including lots for frivolous children and plenty of ripe
examples for the dirty-minded. Dare I risk a few, or will this ruin a
future QQQ page? No, the world's full of puns, and there are plenty
to go round.
cleverly I avoided saying “All the world's a stooge.”)
at random, then, this Pundemonium handful:
makes the heart grow fonder
cooking: the pot thickens
people are scene and not herd
critic is a man who pans for gold
men don’t get laid
will get you no wear
masochist cowered when he saw the domantrix's whip, and she told him,
"That's the leash of your worries"
gymnasts fall on deft ears
of the advantages of nuclear war is that all men are cremated equal
sycophant is a person who stoops to concur.
see, far from being a despicable form of humour, a pun — or a least a good
one — has a certain mellifluous dignity of its own. This form of
improvisatorial mucking about with words, indeed, is loved and practised
regularly by musicians worldwide (even if they're not also broadcasters).
The reason, of course, isn't hard to find: musos have good ears. Theme and
variations and all that.
example of this musician's delight occurred early in the movie Brassed
Off, where at rehearsal the brass-band conductor played by Pete
Postlethwaite introduces Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez as “The
Concerto de Orange Juice”.
heard that fruity jewel, my mind went back to my Uni days. A jazz group I
followed was once requested (after many up-tempo numbers) to “play
something pastoral”, and the pianist immediately called out, “Ok fellers,
There'll Never Be Another Ewe”.
you’ll find a few wordplays for your delectation, all relating to titles
of musical compositions in various styles. Most are pretty self-evident,
so no explanation is provided.
heard that quite a few Bikwil readers are musicians, amateur or
pro, so I'm optimistic that this list will soon get expanded. Ok you
trombonists, don't let things slide. And all you fiddlers — you should be
able to scrape up a few puns. Nor you bassoon players (I almost fagott
wailing a bit longer!
remember this. In addition to the clever puns created by the famous
writers mentioned above, some really great men of letters have penned
loving words about this form of humour, so if it was good enough for them
it’s good enough for Bikwil.
Allan Poe, for instance, who had the bravery to assert, “The goodness of
your true pun is in direct ratio of its intolerability”.
Charles Lamb, who so beautifully wrote, “[A pun] . . . is a pistol let off
at the ear; not a feather to tickle the intellect”.
great H.W. Fowler had some affection for a decent pun:
are good, bad, and indifferent, and only those who lack the wit to make
them are unaware of the fact.
here are our puns on musical composition titles:
Blight of the Humble Fee
Arms around Me Honey, Hold Me — I’m Tight
Me Mr Sheen
Baby Loves My Body
Girl with the Lines of a Horse
Stompin’ on the Saveloy
My Gland — I’ve Got Strange-looking Parasites
Unfurnished Symphony (in One Flat).
Pundemonium has a page devoted to musical puns, too (page 152, to
be exact). Here's a couple of real moan provokers:
the string section rose up and strangled the brass section for being out
of tune, they called it wanton act of violins.
a movie scorer is told to make it funnier, he has to farce the music.
By way of
a bonus, here’s a music-oriented pair from elsewhere in the same book:
sound recordist: I never met a man I didn’t mike
musicians do it, it’s called band on the pun.