Thursday, August 20, 2020

The Greatest Pun Ever Told

Tel Ashdod 1968: Abq Jew is extremely happy to report that he has, indeed, completed 70 revolutions around our Sun, his favorite star in the Milky Way! 

Baruch HaShem

Abq Jew has checked with his legal team and agents,secured the trademarks and copyrights, and nailed down the book and movie rights. Therefore -

Abq Jew is about to share
with you, his loyal readers -
The Greatest Pun Ever Told

But first - some background about, and a short history of, puns.

Adam Eve
It all started with Adam and Eve.

Puns there have been since the time of Adam - whose name is itself a pun. 

Adam is Adam (אדם) because he was scraped from the red clay (אדמה אדומה) that, as we all know, was so abundant in the Garden of Eden. Adam is, of course, the first man (אישׁ). And the first woman is called that (אישׁה) because she was taken from Adam.

So, you may ask -

Energizer Bunny
How did we get to the Energizer Bunny?

Funny you should ask! Here is what Wikipedia has to say:
The pun, also called paronomasia, is a form of word play that exploits multiple meanings of a term, or of similar-sounding words, for an intended humorous or rhetorical effect. 
These ambiguities can arise from the intentional use of homophonic, homographic, metonymic, or figurative language
A pun differs from a malapropism in that a malapropism is an incorrect variation on a correct expression, while a pun involves expressions with multiple (correct or fairly reasonable) interpretations. 
Puns may be regarded as in-jokes or idiomatic constructions, especially as their usage and meaning are usually specific to a particular language or its culture.
Wikipedia goes on to give many, many examples of wonderful, even delightful puns that never fail to make Abq Jew chuckle.  Here's one:

A Freudian slip is when you say
one thing but mean your mother.

But Joseph Tartakovsky, in his quite memorable 2009 article in The New York Times, helps us understand puns and punistry even more.
Pun for the Ages

THE inglorious pun! Dryden called it the “lowest and most groveling kind of wit.” To Ambrose Bierce it was a “form of wit to which wise men stoop and fools aspire.” 
Universal experience confirms the adage that puns don’t make us laugh, but groan. It is said that Caligula ordered an actor to be roasted alive for a bad pun. (Some believe he was inclined to extremes.)

Addison defined the pun as a “conceit arising from the use of two words that agree in the sound, but differ in the sense.” “Energizer Bunny Arrested! Charged with Battery.” No laugh? Q.E.D.

Puns are the feeblest species of humor because they are ephemeral: whatever comic force they possess never outlasts the split second it takes to resolve the semantic confusion. 

Most resemble mathematical formulas: clever, perhaps, but hardly occasion for knee-slapping. The worst smack of tawdriness, even indecency, which is why puns, like off-color jokes, are often followed by apologies.  

Which brings Mr Tartakovsky (eventually) to Richard Whately, Archbishop of Dublin.
The true punster’s mind cycles through homophones in search of a quip the way small children delight in rhymes or experiment babblingly with language. 
Accordingly, the least intolerable puns are those that avoid the pun’s essential puerility. Richard Whately, Archbishop of Dublin, was a specialist. 
He could effortlessly execute the double pun: 
Noah’s Ark was made of gopher-wood, he would say, but Joan of Arc was maid of Orleans. 
Some Whately-isms are so complex that they nearly amount to honest jokes: 
Why can a man never starve in the Great Desert?  Because he can eat the sand which is there. 
But what brought the sandwiches there? Why, Noah sent Ham, and his descendants mustered and bred.

Whately shows us that it is the punner himself who gives his art a bad name, by so frequently reaching for the obvious. Nothing vexes so much as a pun on a name, for instance. Yet even these can rise to wit if turned with finesse. 

Jean Harlow, the platinum-blond star of the 1930s, on being introduced to Lady Margot Asquith, mispronounced her given name to rhyme with “rot.” 

“My dear, the ‘t’ is silent,” said Asquith, “as in Harlow.” 

Tel Ashdod

Which brings us back to Archaeology,
Tel Ashdod, and the Summer of 1968.

Remember last week's A Short History of Ashdod? Well, fuggedaboutit. Let's talk instead about

What Abq Jew Thought Was
The History of Ashdod in 1968

Please take into account that Abq Jew was a mere lad of but 17 when he told The Greatest Pun Ever Told. Joseph received his Coat of Many Colors at the exact same age - just a kid (you might say), tending his father's flocks.

So anyway, here are the two events that Abq Jew was then sure (near Bien Shur) had happened deep in Ashdod's past.

1. Joshua and the Twelve Tribes
came through.

2. Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians
came through.

And, as Abq Jew is sure you have remembered -

Every cycle of destruction
and fire left a layer of ash.

At Tel Ashdod: two (2) layers.

Now, the professional archaeologists running the Tel Ashdod dig had, in full accordance with professional standards, used transits (agnostic forms of the religious theodolites) to establish an extensive grid of 3 meters x 3 meters.

The professional archaeologists then used the free labor of crazy college students to quickly dig straight down (past the Byzantine age, of which we already have, some would say, all the artifacts we need), thus creating for all the world to see an extensive grid of 3-meter x 3-meter pits, each pit a meter or more deep.

Sic transit gloria mundi

Which is where the real work
of archaeology begins.

And then there was Fran From New Jersey and Abq Jew, standing at the bottom of one of those Tel Ashdod pits, looking at the two layers of ash that had been revealed.

"This must be from when Nebuchadnezzar came through," said Fran From New Jersey, pointing to the deeper of the two layers of ash.

"That cannot be," said Abq Jew, "for the deeper layer of ash must be from the more distant historical event, i.e., from when Joshua came through."

Continued Abq Jew:
"And that goes to show that
you don't know your ash
from a hole in the ground."

Ta Da

Well, Abq Jew guesses, you had to have been there. But you weren't. Only Fran From New Jersey and Abq Jew were there to hear The Greatest Pun Ever Told

A pun that could only have been told at that time and in that place. A pun told by a younger, perhaps even funnier, Abq Jew.

Calamari Rhode Island

The work of us punsters goes on ... and on, and on, and .... As it must. A recent example from the Democratic National Convention roll call, which featured a "beefcake chef holding a tray of calamari."

Blake News (@blakehounshell) Tweeted:

Was the Rhode Island guy posing with the calamari promised anything in exchange for being a delegate for Biden? What I'm asking is ... was there a squid pro quo?


Abq Jew hereby wishes to thank The Holy One, Blessed Be He, for granting him 70 years upon this beautiful Earth; his family and friends, who have enlightened and enriched the venture; and, especially, Mrs Abq Jew, who has listened to many, many years of puns (and dad jokes, and worse) and remained silent.

Abq Jew has now
fulfilled his promise to tell 
The Greatest Pun Ever Told
Go forth or fifth and promulgate.

Obama Mic Drop

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