As expected, people either loved the pun column or they hated it. One of my patients sat down and very pleasantly said, "You know, Doc, that column you wrote (on puns) really sucked. You were obviously looking for material."
Well, of course I was looking for material. I'm always looking for material. To which Norby Fleisig observed in correspondence that, whereas it's likely most people enjoyed at least one of the 10 puns included in the column, there must have been some readers who didn't enjoy any of them. "I know you thought that at least one would make them laugh," he writes, "but no pun in ten did."
Walter Duane does not agree that the pun is the lowest form of humor. "Puns are usually made by quick-witted people. If people gasp or groan it's because they weren't clever enough to think of one themselves, or simply don't get the humor.
"... Shakespeare was not afraid of using puns. Who can forget Mercutio's dying words in 'Romeo and Juliet': 'Ask for me tomorrow and you will find me a grave man.'
"We need more humor (of this sort). Even the New Yorker is seldom funny anymore. We don't need ethnic, cruel or risque jokes. We need the cleverness of Fred Allen, Robert Benchley or Dorothy Parker. Let's bring good humor back!"
Speaking of Dorothy Parker, a most amusing quatrain is her description of the martini:
I like to have a martini
Certainly two at the most
After three I'm under the table
After four I'm under my host
For more "low humor," consider the following, the sanctity of which let no man set apunder:
An individual identified only as TK says, "Mahatma Gandhi walked barefoot much of the time, which gave him foot calluses. He also ate very little, and with his odd diet suffered from bad breath. This made him (taa-daa) a super callused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis."
Kent Lee sends in one of his favorites. The problem is, if it makes sense, you're at least 50. Sad but true. "Roy Rogers and his wife Dale had a ranch out west. When a day's work was done, Roy always left his shoes on the front porch. One day he came out only to find the shoes all chewed up. And then he noticed a set of cougar tracks leading from the porch. He bought a pair of new shoes, but they met the same fate. He ventured out with his rifle, bagged the offending cougar, which he brought home and placed on the porch. Dale come outside, saw him busy with the cougar and asked, 'Pardon me, Roy. Is that the cat-that-chewed-yer-new-shoes?' "
George Wilgus has two offerings. The first involves the son of an Indian chief who decided to become an electrician. So he went off to school, got his degree and then returned to the reservation. His father wanted him to provide electricity for all their friends and neighbors. He did so with no problem and then reported back to his dad that he was finished. His dad asked if he provided electricity to a specific public bathroom as well. He hadn't but would take care of it, thus becoming ... the first Indian to wire a head for a reservation.
A man decided to have himself cloned. But the clone was really evil. Always cursing and doing vile things. Before long the man decided he couldn't take it any longer and took the clone on a trip to the mountains. While there he pushed his clone off a cliff and became ... the first man to make an obscene clone fall.
For hopelessly enthused punsters, Emmy Lou Anderson recommends a book published in 1977 titled "Crosbie's Dictionary of Puns."
"It says there are over 3,500 entries in the book. I also enjoy a book titled 'An Exaltation of Larks,' by James Lipton. Three printings: 1968, 1977, and 1991."
Edward M. Gilbreth is a Charleston physician. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.