50 Times People Saw Hilarious Puns And Just Had To Share Them On This Dedicated Online Group Interview
Ready to o-pun the doors to the wacky and wonderful world of wordplay? Wait, wait, please don’t close your laptop just yet! We know puns are notorious for the cringe-inducing punchlines that often make them a maligned form of humor. But our comedy-loving team here at Bored Panda firmly believes that they are misunderstood little creatures, and we're on a mission to prove that a good pun (is there such a thing, you ask?) is always worth a good laugh.
Love them or hate them, it’s hard to deny the inexplicable allure of the pun. You know what we’re talking about — one-liners so punny, clever, and ridiculously amusing that they take you on an emotional rollercoaster where you moan, groan, and then inevitably burst with laughter.
So allow us to introduce you to one pun-laden, eyebrow-raising, can't-help-but-laugh type of community aptly called 'Puns.' Self-describing themselves as the largest group of punsters on the Internet, this subreddit proves that wordplay can be a thriving art — if you do it right. Below, we selected some of their best posts to brighten your day, so continue scrolling! Be sure to hit upvote on your favorite ones, and join the gang laughing at homonyms in the comments.
It Shall Commence On 4/20
Depending on your sense of humor, puns are either the peak of witty wordplay or the low of cringe-worthy dad jokes that always come at the wrong place at the wrong time. At their core, these little jokes manipulate the different possible meanings of words or words that sound alike but have different meanings. But while hilarious puns are complex linguistic feats that deserve some respect, they aren’t necessarily in vogue right now.
To gain insight on the topic, we reached out to Caleb Warren, an Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Arizona. Having done a TEDx Talk on 'What Makes Things Funny,' he was more than happy to share his thoughts about the nature of the pun and even offer some advice on how to elevate your comedy skills to another level.
Warren explained that when it comes to puns, people are often divided into several different categories — lovers, haters, or the in-betweeners. "Compared to many other forms of humor, puns are less likely to disgust, offend, or get someone fired," he told Bored Panda. "However, puns are divisive in that some people think they are hilarious and others think they are lame (and some think they are both hilarious and lame)."
Take The Wheel
Please Stop Dad
Unfortunately, there isn’t any direct data that could tell us who exactly likes puns and why. But the professor pointed out that one reason why people fail to find puns funny is that they rely on a relatively mild violation.
All of this can be explained by the benign violation theory of humor. "The theory argues that a person experiences humor (laughter, amusement, the perception that something is funny) when something threatens their sense of how the world should be (i.e., a violation), but they are okay with the threat (i.e., the violation is benign)," Warren said.
"With puns, the violation is typically a language or logic violation," he continued. "Someone uses a word or phrase in a way that it is not supposed to be used (e.g., 'I relish the fact that you’ve mustard the strength to ketchup with me'), but there is an alternative meaning of the word or phrase that seems correct (i.e., benign). In this case, mustard, ketchup, and relish are all the correct ways to spell hot dog condiments."
Whether you like it or not, puns are ubiquitous — and dangerously easy to make. They're also bound to cause a reaction, regardless if it's a wince, a laugh, or both.
"I think most people don’t think puns are particularly funny because they don’t care enough about language to feel threatened when a word/phrase is used or spelled incorrectly. Along this line, one scholar argues that people who are amused by puns tend to be bookish and care more about language than those who groan," professor Warren added.
I'd Ruther Not Say
We also managed to get in touch with the team looking after the 'Puns' online group, and one moderator, Girl_Alien, was kind enough to have a chat about the community. When asked how the subreddit was created in the first place, she explained it’s impossible to answer this question, "since I don't think any member of the original moderation team is still here."
However, things seem to be going well for the community. At the time of writing, it has amassed over 642k pun-loving enthusiasts eagerly waiting for their daily dose of hilarity. "It is not really that hard to manage," Girl_Alien told us about the group. "From my experience with other subs, G-rated humor is among the easier type of sub to manage. Other genres of humor are much harder such as those related to offensive jokes due to the number of trolls and Reddit's standards."
Still Up For Sale?
Ah Yes, Pretty Hip
Although the forum is well-loved by its punsters, moderators inevitably face some challenges. One common issue regards jokes that appear on products, as they can be mistaken for spam. "Not just that, but our visitors may see a funny t-shirt, cup, or bumper sticker and suggest where to buy one." As the team has no way to vet any commerce sites that visitors decide to link, they sometimes have to lock the post or must remove any hyperlinks.
"I don't really see any good solution," Girl_Alien added. "We don't want to lose the sub to Reddit over not enforcing sitewide rules. Yet, we may end up taking action against those acting in good faith (which we don't want to do) when someone wants to share where they have seen a pun. It is just unfortunate all around."
Turns out, another problem the moderators encounter quite often is handling spam. "Not only do we have spammers and possibly scammers who may try to hide behind puns on occasion, we occasionally get more interesting spammers," she told us. "One was spamming recipes. There was no commercial interest. They just liked recipes and shared them with any sub that they could."
One thing that would make looking after the sub easier, according to the mod, is if people would stop taking things too seriously. "I wish that others would be more tolerant of views they disagree with and not let their personal beliefs prevent them from enjoying a good joke or pun."
"It would be nice if more folks could learn to become more compartmentalized in their thinking and realize that things can be offensive and humorous at the same time without any disrespect being intended.”
Not Mine. But Always Makes Me Giggle
I Like This One
Still, the moderators felt the need to mention in the sidebar that "all puns are wordplay, not all wordplay are puns." So we were curious whether some members have a hard time grasping the concept of these clever jokes. And it turns out that they do: "For instance, some think a meme or a funny cartoon is a pun. They are indeed humorous, just not a part of the genre."
"This is a sub mostly just for puns," Girl_Alien explained. "There is indeed plenty of wordplay that is not puns such as spoonerisms (swapping sounds across 2 words), portmanteaus, word avalanches, anagrams, etc. Those are all fun too, just not the focus of the sub."
The moderator was happy to share some of the most common (and her favorite) types of puns that ever graced the sub here, here, and here. Although she did mention it’s quite difficult to highlight specific ones, as there is so much witty wordplay on the platform, "those that contain multiple puns, those about mature content, and those that leave plenty of room for participation seem to be the most successful."
/R/Puns Appreciates It
Unlike a lot of other kinds of jokes, the groans and the laughs all are part of the package we call the pun experience. If you find them ridiculously funny but can't seem to come up with ways to hone your comedy skills, professor Warren broke down two useful pieces of advice that may help you crack up your audience in no time.
First, making puns too clever may veer them more into the realm of beauty and poetry rather than humor. "Part of what makes puns funny is that they seem stupid," Warren explained.
"Consider Atwood’s poem: 'You fit into me / like a hook into an eye / a fish hook / an open eye.' In this case, the double meaning of hook and eye is more likely to evoke elevating emotions (wonder, awe, etc.) than laughs or groans. Thus, sometimes puns are funny because they seem so stupid — the dumbness of the pun, and the fact that the punner is trying but failing to be funny — can itself become a benign violation."
Secondly, you can also consider venturing into the world of more controversial matters. "A way to make puns funnier (but also more likely to be offensive and disgusting) is to pun about a taboo topic. People are more likely to laugh at puns that are insulting, violent, or sexual than puns about hot dog condiments: e.g., 'I’m trying to give up sexual innuendos. But it’s hard. So hard,'" Warren said.
Moderator Girl_Alien agrees with this line of thinking but also wanted to remind you that this kind of humor usually doesn’t come out of disrespect, hatred, or animosity. "Sometimes jokes about sensitive topics are told by those who are the most affected as a means to try to cope with their experiences and regain some sense of power," she noted. "So again, my biggest advice is to not take everything overly seriously or personally."