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PUNDAMONIUM! An Interview with Art Allen

Posted on Thu, Apr 25 2013 9:30 am by Emma Reynolds

Flickr CC: eastscene

On Monday, April 29, an event of great literary craft and gravitas will premiere at Republic • 7 Corners in a style so bold that it has not been attempted anywhere else in the world (see answer to question #2). What is this momentous occasion, you ask? It is none other than PUNDAMONIUM The Twin Cities Pun Slam. In preparation for the grand event, we have an interview with Art Allen, the organizer of PUNDAMONIUM and an esteemed master of the pun.

1. Are puns underrated, or are the requisite groans and eye-rolls appropriate?

To me, puns are a numbers game. Which is to say, I will make puns all the time, and maybe one out of every 10 or 20 will get a great chuckle. The rest will get a groan or a punch, which is generally not unwarranted. But that's just in my life. In the world at large, I think many people think an easy way to indicate they are funny is to make a sloppy pun (see this article in Slate, but then also my rebuttal), which is possibly where the pun generates most of its ire. But a really well executed pun, like this one in Blazing Saddles, is clever beyond all else and deserves our love. 

2. PUNDAMONIUM is inspired by poetry slams, but is this the first pun-themed event of its kind?

This is the only slam-style pun event that I am aware of, although Punderdome (the name of which I will be eternally jealous) and the O. Henry Pun-Off have been operating for quite some time.

3. Given you're such a connoisseur, we have to ask: what's your favorite pun?

My favorite set-up-and-punch-line pun is: A pirate walks into a bar with a steering wheel sticking out of his pants. The bartender says, "You know, you've got a steering wheel sticking out of your pants." The pirate says, "Yargh! It's drivin' me nuts!" 

Tied for favorite is: when Dorothy Parker was asked to use "horticulture" in a sentence, she replied, “You can lead a whore to culture but you can’t make her think.”

4.  How can someone become a PUNDAMONIUM contestant?

You can compete in PUNDAMONIUM by showing up early and signing up. Competition is open to the first 20 people to sign up at the venue.

5. Is there a current pun in media or pop culture that you wish would disappear?

You know what, there isn't a pun in popular culture I would do away with. Not one. When I see a pun that starts to edge into irksome territory, I usually consider it and then do this.

6. Any parting words of wisdom to Monday's brave competitors?

All I know is that there are some competitors who are running pun-making drills. The competition will not be light. 

PUNDAMONIUM will begin at 8 p.m. and general admission is $6.00 and $4.00 for students (this is an all ages event). Those who wish to participate should sign up at the door, but spots are limited. Competitors will be given a prompt word or short phrase and will have 30 seconds to come up with a pun based on it. Five judges from the audience (selected before the show) will rate it on a scale of 1 to 10. Top and bottom scores will be tossed out, and whoever has the most points after three rounds will be declared the winner of PUNDAMONIUM. Game on.


Art Allen is a writer and producer in Minneapolis. Past projects include Art Hounds: The Parody (access MP3 here), editing and contributing for Guffaw, and writing/producing/everything-but-the-acting for the short film A Stunning Example of How Not to Live. Read more about his writings, projects, and other work on his website.

Emma Reynolds is currently a marketing intern at The Loft Literary Center. She first became interested in writing fiction when she started taking online courses in creative writing and happily discovered the Loft's classes at Open Book shortly thereafter. She is a pun novice who realized just how difficult it is create one—clever or not—when she couldn't think of a single pun to use in her interview questions.