FAQ: A Question of Timing

  • 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.

    2011 Punniest of Show

    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 were 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.


One response to “FAQ: A Question of Timing

  1. What Gary said is completely accurate but he left out one fact that nay help you decide what to do if you hear the 90 seconds whistle and have more than 25% of your return left. You have 3 choices at that point: 1: You can speed up your presentation including not waiting for audience reaction before going to the next line. 2: You can continue as you were and just stop when the buzzer goes off, and 3: You can go at your usual pace and be disqualified. What Gary neglected to say is that the judges are encouraged to ignore the bell and judge what was presented even if the contestant will be disqualified. Also you should know That the judges will let you finish the sentence you are telling when the gong is struct and usually a one line pun that is your final punchline but if you try to get in more than that, you usually will be disqualified, So you have a decision to make. My personal feeling is you should decide when you hear the whistle if you are really in confession to be one of the three medalists. If so decide between going faster and cutting out parts of the speech that are still in your script. If they are all important to your script, speed it up. If it doesn’t hurt your talk by leaving out a few puns than skip those. But if you know you are not going to be one of the winners and want to see just how high a score you can get, go ahead and complete your presentation knowing you will be disqualified. Again this is my personal opinion and I’m fairly certain that Gary would not agree with me.