Punniest of Show Judge Panel:
A native Austinite, Elyssa has been a museum educator at the O. Henry Museum since 2015. She is new to linguistic jurisprudence, but she trusts that, like Justice Potter Stewart, she knows pun when she sees pun.” Let me know if I should add anything; but like most legal puns, I think it’s best kept brief. Here come de judge!
David Wyde puns at open mics, with friends, and to people at parties who unwitty-ingly make eye contact. He has competed at Seattle’s Pundamonium and Austin’s O.Henry Pun-Off. David sprinkled puns throughout his talk on web cookies at the DefCon hacker conference, but they’re too crumby to include here. As a software engineer and an official chess master, he tries to avoid The Mate-Tricks. He once rendered the audience at a head-to-head pun-off competition completely silent on the topic hospitals: “My voice keeps going up and down; I think I have an inflection.”
Jim Ertner retired a few years ago after 41 years in the Navy shipbuilding business. He figured that, like the NASCAR driver whose wheels wore out, it was finally time to reTIRE. Jim has competed in the Punniest of Show seven times, winning three of them (one first place and two second place medals.) All of the winning topics were animal-related. Coincidentally, Jim is the co-author with Richard Lederer of The Giant Book of Animal Jokes (available for sale at the O.Henry Museum and on http://www.amazon.com, and the publisher http://www.stoneandscott.com.) Jim and Richard Lederer also had two more PUNderful children’s books published in April 2011, Wild & Wacky Animal Jokes and Super Funny Animal Jokes, and two more in April 2012, Cleverly Comical Animal Jokes and Rip Roaring Animal Jokes.
Francis McGrath has been competing at the O Henry Punoff since the mid 90s, but largely went unsung until 1998 when he waltzed away with Punniest-Of-Show for his “Alphabet Song.” He flute to even greater heights when the recording of that performance was played on the Dr. Demento Show. Feeling he coda done better, he again marched to victory in 2005 with “Star Wars The Musical,” just five days before “Revenge of the Sith” premiered. From 2011 to 2014, he bass-ically opened the Pun-Off with his band, The Greatest American Heroes: Austin’s Favorite TV Theme Song Band. He’s fiddled around town in numerous other bands and has produced his own album, “No Less Days.” He’s very keyed up about finishing his second album later this year. He has recently sunk solo as to play piano gigs at restaurants such as Mother’s Cafe and private parties. When he composes himself, he’s a programmer for UT where he’s been on staff for the last twenty one years. You can see and hear his pun performances at www.francismcgrath.com/puns/ and learn more about his music, poetry, and paper models at www.francismcgrath.com.
We’re honored to have the 2019 POTY join our judge panel. Scott’s been drawing since he could hold a pencil. When he later realized he had a punchent for writing dad jokes, gags and groaners that matched well with his art style, he set out to make a career of it through newspaper syndication. The world has been laughing (and shaking their heads) ever since.
Before becoming a newspaper cartoonist, Scott worked in multimedia creation for various telecom companies. He also once worked for an underwear manufacturer but the job was brief. It’s Scott’s first year of involvement with the O. Henry Pun-Off, but he is looking forward to many more years of being a pun in the ass.
Angelica Demiris (Hanley)
Angelica has excellent judge card-entials! She owns A Couple Puns, a greeting card business creating designs based on puns. She also was the 2018 POTY award winner! Visit with her at her card display at the Pun-Off.
Emcees 2019 (probably)
David is in his 3rd year as Producer of the Pun-Off, but he hardly has a leg to stand on since he had a major operation in June 2017 to his right leg! In the late evening of June 16th 1962, a boy was born on the outskirts of Cleveland, Ohio. Then three-year old, David Gugenheim, residing in San Antonio, Texas couldn’t care less. He was learning to read pun laden Dr. Seuss books by Bennett Cerf (no relation). His favorite toys were mercury filled, asbestos, coated in lead paint. Growing up half nuts, he was destined either to win the Pun-Off, or the Tour de France. As an armature cyclist, he entered his first Pun-Off in 1983. After winning six metals, and a plastic first place PunSlinger trophy, David made the leap to emcee crew in 2007. He often enjoys long walks, small shiny objects, and trying to find his way home. Gugenheim is working on his first film — Pelicula.
Gary’s energy and enthusiasm for the Pun-Off never flags, but his shirts often do. He’s not the producer but he still shows his stripes as an emcee/host of the event. As “Producer emeritus” He insists this is merely another stage he’s going through now that he is a Grandpa! He can still likely be scene somewhere behind the scenes all afternoon hustling his bustles and busting his aspirations. The drive and dedication Gary has shown over these many long jeers is matched only by the patience and understanding of his loving wife and family who have always pretty much considered him as a “hostage” for most of each spring leading up to the event. Summer expecting his pride will go before the fall but hey, they can’t all be winters! In his “secret identity” Gary manages to stay gainfully deployed in the mismanagement the family apartment business. He says it seems the lease he can do. Any pun for tenants? Send email to gary at hallock.net
The punster formerly known as Brian Snider is honored to be part of an Austin tradition that quite rationally acknowledged “Inner Tube” as a legitimate “Waterborne Vehicle” in 2004. He retired from competition in 2006 after winning his last three “High Lies & Low Puns” efforts (‘02, ‘03, ‘05) and the MVP for Punniest of Show in ‘04. His proudest accomplishment is the most recent: Getting the event rechristened as “Punslingers”. A member of the Pun-Off Topics committee, Brian is still aggrieved that his annually suggested categories of “Things There Are Only Five Of” and “Fulcrums” continue to be rejected by…well, no names, but rhymes with “Blavid Kruggenfleim”. He plans to undangle his preposition and try yet again next year. Brian is a self-confessed localvore who routinely declines big-box therapy. “If you don’t support local businesses, eventually you won’t have the choice – that’s why they’re called “‘chains'”. In the extraordinarily unlikely event that one should experience the desire, he can usually be found at First Thursday, Sunset Valley Farmers Market and local coffee hangs with his faithful Catahoula hound. “ON-WORD: THRU THE FOG!”
Cross two famous guys named Brooks – Garth and Mel – and you get Austin folksinger and six-time O.Henry Pun-Off champion Steve Brooks. Best-known for writing a song-a-week for Jim Hightower’s radio show, his songs have been recorded by artists like Russell Crowe, Slaid Cleaves, Emily Kaitz and Kevin So. He’s written music for two films and appeared in two more, including the 2004 release “Barbecue: A Texas Love Story.” He was featured on TV’s “I’ve Got a Secret” as six-time World Pun Champion. You can check out his six CDs and his award-winning puns at http://www.stevebrooks.net/.
During PunSlingers, the wranglers determine if a pun was made.
Francis McGrath – One of the first POS punster with a perfect 40 score!
Guy Ben-Moshe – Previous winner of PunSlingers and long-time emcee/judge