Pun-ishment

by Quinn

I can take or leave Easter really, but now it’s come and gone one thing I won’t be sad to see the back of is all those adverts in pubs and shops promoting their various Easter “Eggstravaganzas”. I has gone beyond a not very funny joke.

In fact this year that oh-so-clever pun has been so omnipresent that I have resolved to act. I’m going to track down whoever it was first fashioned that keen wordplay and deal with him or her accordingly. And once I’ve started, why should I stop there? Why not go after the originator of “sax appeal”, and then the person who dreamt up “life’s a beach”. If I’m lucky they will all have been invented by the same person, holed up in a cave somewhere with a wi-fi laptop from where they work out their commission for ITN, thinking up those smart-arsed one-liners that lead into the ad breaks for Channel 4 News; if so, that would certainly make my job easier.

But I don’t hate all puns, clearly; what makes the difference between the good and the bad? For instance, each October Alton Towers hosts its Halloween “spooktacular”. Now that is surely no better a pun than “eggstravaganza” in essence, but somehow I quite like it. Is it because it is not so established, less commonplace, so it still seems to hold some originality and charm that it would lose if it became more ubiquitous? While I’m at it I actually appreciate most of those Channel 4 News headlines. And looking at the title of this post, and the titles of about 40% of my posts, if my task is to rid the world of bad puns perhaps I could make my job even easier and start a little closer to home?

So perhaps it isn’t the puns themselves I dislike but the way they spread virally? Maybe I react negatively not so much to the actual puns as to the unthinking manner so many people take them up? Should I instead go after all the slack brained copyists who thoughtlessly and lazily regurgitate those same tired old puns that have lost their sheen? But their very popularity means that I really would be making work for myself, and that ultimately would involve me having to tackle poor old PTA members and charity shop workers who scrawl “eggstravaganza” onto cardboard posters with marker pens and whose only real crime is a lack of imagination.

Overall then, is it the originator of the pun I should fault, who releases their idea into the public domain but who has no eggsclusive control over its subsequent use or eggsecution? Or do I tackle those who take on the pun and eggstend the idea beyond breaking point, transforming a quirky play-on-words into a eggsecrable cliché far away from whatever the inventor may have intended? Or am I perhaps looking into this far too eggsistentially?

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