Register to Compete 2017

2017 sign-up is over!

The lottery to pick the contestants was closed April 3rd, Noon (Central Daylight Time, UTC-5).

What if I entered the lottery but I was NOT chosen in the lottery to compete? You are now on the stand-by list. We always have some “no-show” contestants on the day of the event so if you are on the Stand-By List be prepared to check-in Saturday, May 12th at the Pun-Off registration table before 11:45.

Eventbrite sends persons who registered an email confirmation that their entry was accepted for the lottery. It is NOT a confirmation that you will compete in an event. The top 32 randomly chosen persons in each lottery will be offered a contestant place. The rest will be rank-ordered on a Stand-By List to be  offered a position only if selected contestants drop out.

After April 3rd until the Pun-Off whenever there are drop-outs, persons next in line on the stand-by list will be notified via email if they are  moved up to the competitors list and will have 24 hours to respond they want to compete. Persons who do not respond will be moved to the bottom of the Stand-By List.

On the day of the Pun-Off, contestants and persons on the Stand-By List should bring their Eventbrite Ticket to the Registration Desk and we will complete your contestant application form.

In summary

  1. The registration web site will be open at noon CDT on Saturday, April 1st, and will remain open for 48 hours.
  2. is handling the registrations, for which you will need to create a free account. It is not necessary to create an account prior to the registration period, but you are welcome to do so.
  3. Please double check the accuracy of your registration information so that we may contact you.
  4. Eventbrite will send you an email confirmation that your entry has been accepted. This will NOT be a confirmation that you will be in the event, which will come after we have run the lottery between April 3rd and 5th.
  5. We will stop accepting registrations at noon CDT on Monday, April 3rd.
  6. Monday evening you will receive an email stating that you are either officially in the competition or on the waiting list.
  7. Over time, until the day of the event, you will be notified via email if you have been moved from the waiting list to the competitors list. You will at that point have 24 hours to respond that you plan to complete. If you do not respond, you will be moved to the bottom of the waiting list. 
  8. On the day of the event bring your ID and we will complete your registration inside the O Henry Museum building. 

Description of the Two Contests

The 40th Annual O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships consists of two competitions of punning in downtown Austin, Texas on May 12, 2017.

Punniest of Show is usually a collection of prepared and rehearsed material incorporating strings of puns and wordplay on a theme (the audience can get) performed within 90 seconds. Often it will feature costumes, props, music, and even multiple punsters. Our judge panel is “trained” to appreciate and reward true puns, but they tend to be more tolerant of fringe wordplay and mere double entendre in this event, especially with favorable audience groans.

The Punslingers competition is conducted as a tournament and requires improvised puns on a randomly selected topic. While it is possible to practice and rehearse for this event, it involves a tremendous amount of thinking on one’s feet and a very quick tongue. Not every pun perpetrator is able to summon up disgrace under fire.


Why is there a lottery to enter? In 2015 the all the contestant slots filled up in less than 10 minutes, so we felt that the first-come, first-served system was unfair to people who couldn’t get to a web connection right at noon. It rewarded those with fast internet connections and flexible work schedules. Now everyone who wishes to be a contestant has 48-hours to register for a chance to compete.

How are the lotteries run? Thirty-two contestants will be chosen by a computer randomization of the submitted lottery names. The POS and PunSlinger lottery are independent, so a person may win a contestant spot in either or both lotteries, depending on what they registered for. Persons who miss the cut-off will be placed in rank order sequence on a Stand-By List and notified by email if contestants slot opens if they are first on the Stand-By List.

What about that cool P.O.T.Y. dinner the night before? Everybody is invited, even non-contestants! Check out our web page for details.

Is my lottery ticket or contestant spot transferable? NO. If you need to drop out, your place will go to another person on the standby-waiting list.

Before You enter

  • Watch some YouTube videos, read our FAQ and Rules and Bite Your Tongue so you know jest what the Annual Pun-Off World Championship is all about. Check your calendar and make work and travel plans. Are you ready for this?
  • Clean Up Your Act. To wit “…double entendre and risqué references will usually go over the heads of the innocent while being appreciated by the mature, but we do hope that all contestants will think twice about deliberately including overt sexual references or other adult themes in their prepared material. We feel a responsibility to our audience, many of whom are young and impressionable, to present a program that is not intentionally offensive in its nature. We are especially eager to see that our event is perceived as a “family friendly” one. Everyone will be on the “honor system” in this matter.”
  • Be advised that the Pun-Off is a free, public, entertainment event so you will be photographed and your stage performance recorded and distributed for posterity, and you consent to this recording and distribution.
  • Punniest of Show(POS)  accepts team entries, but please only enter the “captain’s” name.
  • POS and PunSlingers are independent from each other, so you may join EITHER one or BOTH!



3 responses to “Register to Compete 2017

  1. Hello!

    When does registration open for the 2015 contest? Thank you!

    • Date for the 2015 Pun-Off is Saturday, May 9th. Contestant registration traditionally opens at noon (central time) on April 1st and all positions usually fill up very rapidly. Watch this site for occasional updates and details. You may also wish to visit the Pun-Off page on FaceBook where many contestants and organizers often conjugate and collaborate.

  2. Great,thank you! I am assuming that is April 1st Noon Central Time, correct? Also, the registration will be on this site? Will there be a live link or a registration form for 2015 added by that time?


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