Throughout the year, we get messages from listeners on one subject in
particular. Some of these are laudatory; some are tut-tutting; and some
combine disgust, misery, and fury. The subject...is puns.
Now, this program was built on puns. If you're interested, I suggest
you pick up Michael Enright's book-length analysis entitled, "Radio with
an 'Oh Pun' Mind: The Use of Humourous Wordplay on As It Happens".
You'll find it in most bookstores' remainder bins for about fifty cents.
people refer to the puns on the show as "groaners". And some people just
groan. We recently received this email, from Shane S., location
unknown. It reads, in part:
"The introduction to As It Happens is so strange. To roughly describe
it, it's a slowly-building assemblage of puns based on headlines,
culminating in the ultimate witticism of your in-house quip-master.
At this point, your entire audience is supposedly rolling on the
floor with laughter. But what happens next? Your first story is usually
the most serious (or sad or heinous) story of the day.
"This progression from knee-slapping groaners to intensive
self-reflection on serious matters is handled so haphazardly that one
wonders if the pun-writer and producers of the show are even on the same
page, let alone working in concert to deliver a cohesive broadcast.
"Your pun-writer has to go. He or she may have been necessary when AIH
began -- oh so many years ago -- but the time of Happy Gang-like
wordplay has long past. Just give us the news."
That was from Shane S., somewhere on Earth. And we also got this
related suggestion from Robert O'Callaghan, whose location is also
unknown. He writes:
"I have an April Fool's suggestion and challenge for AIH. Every night
we are subjected to sweet and sour, unapologetic PUNishment on your
program. This is not a complaint. Au contraire. But, how about, on this
April Fool's Day not airing a single pun, no matter how obvious or
tempting. I am suggesting a kind of PUNUS INTERUPTUS or PUNch line
denial, if you like. Set up the puns as usual but don't deliver the
PUNch line, leaving your listeners confounded and begging for relief."
That suggestion came from Robert O'Callaghan. And it's a good one. We
considered it -- and we reflected on Shane S.'s bafflement.
But the problem is, our "writer" is really just an old computer
program. Every day, we load that program -- which is called "Punmaster
2000" -- into an old Commodore VIC-20, from eight cassette tapes. Until
one of those tapes breaks, we're stuck with this clunky, outdated
So the lame jokes will remain -- because, for the time being at least, the pun is mightier than the sore. ar