Q: Regarding the Punniest of Show event, does the 90 seconds have to be based on one subject (e.g. States of America) or can it be a mix of props and miscellaneous gags?
A: Our Punniest of Show competition really has few rules other than the time limit. Ninety seconds is the target time for your entire performance because at 120 seconds you’ll get the timekeeper’s drop dead gong and you will be disqualified. There might be a bit of wiggle room in the timing for audience reaction and mic problems, but you should rehearse your delivery to be about 90 seconds to be safe.
Doug Spector and Arthur Corenblith used props at 2011 Punniest of Show
How you use the time is up to you. Song parodies with musical instruments are popular. Props or costumes are fun and will usually rate highly if they capture the audience’s attention and enhance the topic for punning. Rapid fire puns may impress certain judges, but so does a well told shaggy dog story with a single, long punch line with all puns.
Contestants who memorize their routine usually do better at relating to the audience, but contestants who read notes still score well. Remember that the Pun-Off is an outdoor event with all of the pitfalls possible therein. For example, its possible to become distracted by hecklers, heat, wind gusts, blinding sunlight, barking dogs and even the occasional fire truck siren leaving from the next door fire station. So speaking loudly to the mic is essential.
Finally, in the Punniest of Show, unlike Punslingers, non-puns or marginal puns are allowed, but keep in mind that some judges may discount your score if you go too far with mere wordplay or double entendre. While we’re on that subject, although naughty, double entendre are popular, remember the Pun-Off is “family friendly” and kids are present so please leave out repeated sexual innuendo. Some judges will score them lower too.
In conclusion, if you entertain the audience and judges with your verbal wit and puns within 90 to 119 seconds, you’ll do OK.