About Pun-Off 2020

Laughter is the Best Medicine!

“Lend us and ear and we’ll give you more corn,” was how those who attended the first O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships were welcomed in 1977. Shucks! Now, 43 jears later the Pun-Off continues to a-maize people with wacky wordplay and home groan wit from powerful punsters who are out standing in their field.

The 43rd annual O. Henry Museum Pun-Off World Championships PUNdemic will run from on October 17, 2020 to midnight (CDT) October 24, 2020 at PunOff2020.com when the Punniest of Show contestant video submissions are open for public vote. The top three most popular Punniest of Show video submissions as chosen by the popular vote of viewers will be announced on October 25, 2020.

What is a Pun?

A pun is the humorous use of a word or words in such a way as to suggest different meanings or applications OR words that have the same or nearly the same sound but different meanings.

What is the Pun-Off?

The Annual O. Henry Museum Pun-Off World Championships consists of two mighty struggles, but only Punniest of Show this Year of the Pundemic.

PUNNIEST OF SHOW: (updated for October 17, 2020) A maximum of 32 contestants will compete to deliver their prepared “punny” material as a recorded video within a time limit of 2 minutes or the video will be disqualified. The eligible video entries are voted upon by viewers. A cumulative score will be recorded. The three top scoring contestant videos will be recognized as winners of Punniest of Show 2020. In the case of a tie score, the producers will choose the winner.

PUNSLINGERS:  (Stay tuned for a virtual possibility) A maximum of 32 contestants may compete. Each pair of competitors will be given a topic. At the judge’s signal, each player in his turn will have 5 seconds to deliver, or begin delivering a pun. The opponent will then be given a signal and another 5 seconds to start a pun. This shoot-out continues until one of the contestants cannot make a pun “tongue-tied” or accumulates a total of three non-qualifying “strike” attempts at a pun. Eliminations continue in standard tournament style until the final round where we often end up with an odd number of surviving punsters. In such cases, a three-way contest results in the elimination of one contestant. The quick draw wit continues on the same topic until an ultimate winner is determined. This, of course, means the second place finisher is even more determined to do better next year.

Why O. Henry?

Austin is proud to claim as a citizen William Sydney Porter, better known to the world as O. Henry, a writer of short stories that have become American classics. He was born on September 11, 1862 in Greensboro, North Carolina. The year 2012 marked the 150 anniversary of O. Henry’s birth and he was given the honor of a United States commemorative stamp.

OHenry USA stamp
Official USA 150th anniversary commemorative stamp

O. Henry short stories also include wit and wordplay with puns, skillful characterizations, surprising twists of plot and warm regard for common and uncommon people in all walks of life, made him one of America’ s new favorite storytellers.

Porter moved in 1884 to Austin, liked the social atmosphere of this growing city, and decided to make Austin his home. He  married an Austin girl, Athol Estes, and began his writing career with the publication of his own humorous newspaper The Rolling Stone and writing for the Houston Post.  The same year of Athol’ s death in 1897, he was charged by federal bank examiners for “shortages” when working as an Austin bank teller. Even though he claimed innocence, he was convicted. His family and friends believed he had protected the Austin bank owners from financial embarrassment and as teller he was the only person insured for the loss. 

After serving more than half of his 6-year sentence as a model prisoner in the Ohio penitentiary, he moved to New York City to start over with a new pseudonym, O. Henry. Once the stories about New York characters he wrote for Sunday World began appearing weekly in 1904, his fame as a writer grew enormously. In 1905, O. Henry  wrote the Christmas classic, Gift of the Magi, and by the time he died on June 5, 1910 he had published over 300 short stories.

The Brush Square Museums Foundation Inc., formerly named Friends of the O. Henry and Dickinson Museums, is a charitable 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation registered in 1988 that co-sponsors the Annual O. Henry Museum Pun-Off World Championships. In 2004, BSMF organized public fund-raising events to begin the Susanna Dickinson House restoration, which the City of Austin completed with bond money voted by Austin citizens. The restored Susanna Dickinson Museum was officially opened March 2, 2010. Both the O. Henry Museum and Susanna Dickinson Museum are managed by the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department.

Traditional Topics Frequently Used In Punslingers Competition

Religion, Biology & Chemistry, Colors/Art & Artists, Radio & Television, Carpentry/Construction, Flowers, Education, Money & Finance, Wheeled Vehicles, Medicine (no body parts), Winged Creatures, Wild Animals, Movies & Theater, Food & Cooking, Male Names, Clothing, Computers/Electronics, American Cities, Airborne Vehicles, Books & Authors, Oil Business, Trees, Astronomy & Astrology, Archeology, Female Names, Sea Creatures, Farming & Ranching, Insects & Bugs, Drinks, Politics, Diseases, Internal Body Parts, Popular Music, The Law & Crime, Rock & Roll Music, Jazz & Classical Music, Physical Sports, Child’s Play (toys & games), Weather, Shrinks & Psychology, Military, Holidays, Indians & Aboriginals, External Body Parts, Country Music, Fruits & Vegetables, Bodies of Water (specific or general), Europe, Asia, & Australia (countries only), Countries of the World (no cities or states), Ceramics and Glass and Related Terms, Mathematics & Physics, Furniture & Furnishings, Waterborne Vehicles, Nuclear Energy, Dogs, Cats, Domestic animals (other than cats & dogs), Gambling.

Email P .U.N.Y . with your suggestions for new pun topics to gary [at] hallock.net.