The 2014 37th Annual O.Henry Pun-Off World Championships is now history! Hopeful of defending his double 2013 titles, multi-medalist Benjamin Ziek of Glendale, California returned with a dream of claiming a second “two-fer.” Alas, it was not to be. This year there was a significant shift in the win and his dream was blown.
In Punniest of Show (P.O.S.) judges awarded identical scores (39 out of a possible 40 points) to three consecutive contestants. Voting by applause, the tie was broken by the audience who clearly favored Alexandra Petri of Washington D.C. who punned on the name of every U.S. president in chronological order. Second place went to last year’s winner, Ben Ziek who also rated 39 points for his spirited offering. Multi-time medalist Andy Balinsky laid claim to yet another hunk of hardware taking home another bronze for his ever-growing and groaning collection.
As bracket after bracket of the PunSlingers competition broke, the final exchange appeared to offer an eerie flashback from last year’s contest. Defending champ Ben Ziek vigorously volleyed quips on the topic of “musical genres” against 2009 champ, Austin’s Matt Pollock. When the dust finally settled, Pollock prevailed, Ziek took second and 3rd place honors were shared by Chad Wellington and former champ, Dav Wallace, both of central Texas.
Showing she’s hardware it counts, the 2014 mmMVP (McClughan Memorial Most Viable Punster) trophy was also awarded to Alexandra Petri for the second consecutive year. It’s very likely she had some trouble getting past the medal detectors on her return to D.C.