Humor Us: Make It Punny

Peter Felton was born and raised in San Francisco, CA. A proud native of the City By The Bay, Felton's lifelong interest in San Francisco Bay Area public transportation was documented in his five-star first book, DAILY PUBLIC TRANSIT RIDERSHIP: THE INSIDE SCOOP (2012)--outlining contemporary (1970s-early 2010s) upgrades, milestones, routes, and the overall aura of the San Francisco Muni public transit system. Felton's five-star second book, TOMMY WROUGHT: A MUSICAL REFLECTION OF CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS (2015), provides readers of all descriptions with extensive comparative analyses between the outlooks of special-case children of today and yesterday--signified by the in-depth music of The Who's Rock Opera, Tommy. Bearing a deep interest in music of all genres, Felton's musicological explorations began at age ten upon discovering the glory, wonder, and depth of the music of the 1960s thanks to public television, the radio, local record stores, and most of all, his upbringing. Eternally furthering Felton’s creative horizons as an adolescent, young adult, and working professional, music continually provides Felton with increased inspiration for using the resource as a regular teaching tool in his academic career working with a wide variety of students and disciplines. Upon earning his BA in Liberal Studies-Teacher Education in 2008, Felton put the pedal to the metal in his teaching career immediately the following Fall. Since then, Felton's professional claim-to-fames as a determined, enlightened educator have included accomplished instruction in the following fields: United States & World History and Geography (Grades K-10), Physical Education (Grades K-8), Civics & Economics (12th Grade), Music & Movement (Grades K-8), Choreography & Interpretive Dance (experimentally pioneered in college, routinely integrated into different subjects in Grade K-8 general education since), and Tutoring (Grades K-12, general ed. subjects). His third and most recent book, SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT: WELL-ROUNDED EDUCATION IN THE LANDS OF OPPORTUNITIES, was published on September 10, 2018. When not teaching or writing books, Felton enjoys photography, taking walks, going to his local public library and exploring its wondrous growing catalog, riding public transportation, surfing the web, and spending quality time with friends and family.

Humor Us: Make It Punny

In writing, just like in life, developing and maintaining a sense of humor serves as an essential means of getting through your next adventure.  Laughter is a key ingredient to all-around happiness, and when either or both fail to present themselves in life’s everyday tedious routine, you can use the brain tickler tool known as comedy to keep your chin up and your mental activity alive and kicking.  However, with Americana moving further and further in the direction of political correctness, natural humor in the form of informal jokes, situation comedies on television, and especially standup comedy, each now require enormous censorship before a humorous proposal can be approved for public airing due to concerns about the presence of various means of offensiveness in the delivered content.  If deemed necessary by the previewers, significant edits to the original content may be made, which change the premise of the underlying element of self-effacing humor considerably.  As a result, comedy and humor become narrower in perspective—limiting their outlooks to redundant sexual implications and/or exaggerated political satires, consumed by placing an emphasis on being cautious rather than fearless when it comes to innovative prowess.  Fortunately, there is a lifeline to save yourself from the stiffness that has become of this otherwise lighthearted form of communication between literal presenters and their audiences.

Many believe that humor is a sign of intelligence.  To orally deliver hilarious one-liners and onstage monologues that bear relevance to modern life and personal meaning at the same time requires tremendous skill and timing.  But for those who choose to take the quieter literary approach to communication of thoughts and ideas to the world at large, while avoiding the step of scanning your message to ensure that it does not exemplify stereotyping in the slightest, one’s writing talents can prove equally effective in conveying language with a humorous touch by relying upon an elaborate vocabulary to create puns right and left which add a colorful dose of innocence to otherwise serious content at hand.  Unlike alternate forms of humor that tend to dominate the public eye, punnery sparks moments of cheeriness among readers and listeners by triggering the brain cells in unexpected ways due to its call for intellect among literary comedians and their following.

In order for puns to come about in one’s writing, it helps to have a wry sense of humor.  This comes in handy for those who are often serious in their general approach to life’s activities, but who want to have fun just like everybody else and leave an imprint on others in their surroundings.  In the case of writing: the recurring puns present in your powerful dictation will keep your readers on their toes in playful ways they never would have imagined until that first instance when they see an unexpectedly upbeat collection of words in the middle of otherwise deep-thinking paragraphs of explanatory language.  When readers spot an expression stretched linguistically to “parody” an otherwise ordinary vocabulary term/concept (and vice-versa), without warning, their eyes will light up, smiles widen, and reactions of positive connotations begin to blossom.  From that point on, you will hold the interest of your human browsers as they venture further into what you have to say on paper, hoping that your humorous side will once again show its happy face for all to envision through your clever wording that combines not only your knack for literacy but also reveals your hidden wonder of comedy that you slyly polish before openly articulating its hilarity in print.  Then when your next pun gets its moment in the literary spotlight, the joyful process will gladly repeat itself!

Yet amidst the celebration of literary creations, publicly proclaiming a wry, dry, occasionally macabre style of humor becomes hindered by the element of technological interactions that, like political correctness, have turned otherwise loosely written communication into one big ball of intensely serious propaganda as opposed to free-flowing-but-intact casual online chatting between “friends” and “enemies” created within the growing robotic public.  Writing can often produce mixed messages to the untrained eye, urging perplexed individuals to make follow-up online or in-person journalistic inquiries with the person on the other end to help clarify any misconceptions resulting from the overwhelming wording at hand.  Subsequently, sarcasm (en par with PC overtones) in language intended for comedic effect frequently gets “taken the wrong way” in terms of recipients misinterpreting the (unanticipatedly) sophisticated sentence structure to their own unfortunate detriment.[1]  What begins as an innocent attempt on the writer’s part to crack a subtle joke ultimately gets turned into a debate as the talking/typing heads go head-to-head in virtual combat over the given miscommunication that bears the dangerous potential of creating newfound enemy territory rather than a friendship base.

At this point, the creator of the original online post hangs their head in sorrow due to their uninformed peers having elected to travel the dark, unfunny road of human conflict over a seemingly simple mistake in viewing the posted quip as being an insult, criticism, or downright ridicule rather than merely dry comedy.  What went wrong in this initially delicate attempt to make light of a presumed heavy topic of discussion?  The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind[2], because the times they are a’ changin’[3], and so have the outlook and expectations of interpretation of everyday electronic communication right along with them.  Allow me to offer this simple but effective piece of advice: if a pun is present in one’s online posts—with humor of intellectual caliber owning the ability to enliven the resulting publicized quip that would otherwise turn users’ heads upside-down, the online battles in question may never occur to begin with!  Granted, groaning may erupt.  But at least the human minor key of vocal expression would have (secretly) happy connotations, as opposed to reflecting the quality of the output of the underlying language of intellect.  Let that be some food for thought to chew on.

Which is exactly what literary, punny humor provokes within an increasingly literate audience!  Depending on the magnitude of a writer’s humor at any given time, the presence of a pun often causes readers to briefly pause and evaluate the prospect of what they just read…before expressing a small chuckle or simply bursting out laughing for the better at the ingenious use of the English language by a well-respected writer!  No sooner have readers reacted positively to- than they have become hooked on- your uniquely expressive articulation, sparking their interest in coming back for more treats of knowledge and talent on your end that lie before them on paper or tablet screen accordingly.

It is important for all authors to include humor in their writing in order to give it a healthy, well-rounded tone so as to even out extensive stretches of dramatic buildup, romantic sensuality, factual information, and personal anecdotes with a feeling of enjoyment and satisfaction on the parts of both the author and the reader(s).  If and when life proves to be too heavy to allow us to take a break from our endless tasks at hand in order to stay afloat internally and externally, then it comes time to turn to the book of humorous revelations for to gain insight into how to uphold your sense of fun, learning, dignity, and hard-earned intellect in the process.  With that winning combination of qualities and strengths, there is no stopping your streak of success!

And believe me when I say, that is no joke.

[1] The only means of preventing this hazardous recurrence from reappearing involves the inclusion of an emoji and/or a hashtag among various wording, indicating the precise tone or intention of the writing at hand, albeit eliminating any and all prospects of individual interpretation on the readers’ parts.

[2] Dylan, Bob.  “Blowin’ In The Wind.”  The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.  New York City, NY: Columbia Records, 1963.

[3] Dylan, Bob.  “The Times they Are a-Changin’.”  The Times They Are a-Changin’.  New York City, NY: Columbia Records, 1964.

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