Fun spun by a pun

It was American wit Oscar Levant who branded a pun the lowest form of humour, probably because he couldn’t coin an acceptable one himself.   Punning doesn’t come easily;  it requires some mental effort.

Yet it’s here to stay, giving its aficionados the rib-tickling they expect from an imaginative use of words.Right now, punsters are having a field day with Donald having ‘trumped’ the American presidential election and Obama all set to ‘barrack’ his successor’s policies.  It will be a ‘miracle’ of sorts, of course, if German Chancellor Angela Merkel is voted back to power for a third term.  Nearer home, the ongoing Tata boardroom tussle has thrown up some interesting puns in the press, my favourite being “The ‘Mistry’ over Cyrus’s exit.” When Narasimha Rao was prime minister, I recall a chirpy newspaper headline that read “PM’s remarks kick up quite a ‘Rao’”.

As regards golf, we’re told that it’s a game where the ball lies poorly and the player well and that nothing counts in golf like your opponent!  Then, following his dethronement as world professional golf champion, we hear that Tiger Woods is now on the come-back trail though he’s not out of the woods yet!

What did the poet say on reading a novice’s efforts at verse: “Well, it could’ve been worse!” Asked if his wares were authentic, an antiques dealer reportedly said, “Obsoletely!”  There’s also the unintended pun that a schoolboy came up with when he declared that “The Mediterranean and the Red Sea are connected by the sewage canal.”   And I presume that in the good old days a common refrain among the paparazzi on the trail of Elizabeth Taylor, the famed and much-married Hollywood actress, must have been “Let’s ‘tail her’!”

The government’s demonetisation drive has seen people all over the country flock to ATMs, many of which are cashless.   One daily aptly encapsulated the problem with this eye-catching headline:  “ATMs play cash me if you can.”

When the Kerala government temporarily suspended its ever-popular daily lotteries due to demonetisation problems, another daily promptly came up with an apposite headline:  “Dame Luck turns lame duck as wheel of fortune stops spinning.”

Other striking puns I’ve come across include “Population explosion: when people take leave of their census,” “Dogs can’t hold their licker”, “A witch is just a flying sorcerer,” “A mermaid is a sunken pleasure”, “Conscience: something that no’s what’s wrong” and “What’s magic – gone with the wand.”

I also recall reading about a chiropodist’s signboard that announced, “Come in!  You’re just two feet away from relief!”
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