The 47th Annual Pun-Off World Championship presented by the O. Henry Museum 

Posted on: May 15, 2024
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By Mindy Reed

Brush Square Park behind the O. Henry Museum was a punny place to be on Saturday, May 11. Participants from New York to California and throughout Texas participated in the international competition. Word play is the bedrock of writing. Poets and rappers use it to develop their ideas. Being punny is a specific type of word play.

The Pun-Off has two major categories: Punniest of Show contestants were allowed 90 seconds to present a prepared routine. The Punslingers consists of five rounds of single elimination of heats on a proposed topic. The participants have five beats to respond with another pun on the same topics. It was fast-paced and intense. Punniest of Show Winners: 1st, Jerzy Gwiazdowski, 2nd, Tobias Miceli-Gwiazdowsk, 3rd, Erika Ettin. PunSlinger Winners 1st , Jerzy Gwiazdowski, 2nd, Blake Bauserman, and nailbiter 3rd place tie: Maury Zeff and Atom Even Engel.

William Sydney Porter, better known to the world as O. Henry, was an Austin resident. As Spike Gillespe shared on the October 25, 2023 broadcast of Writing on the Air, he was a writer of short stories that have become American classics. 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.

Many of his stories include wordplay with puns, which is why his former home, now a museum on 409 E. 5th Street, is the place for the competition. Part of Austin’s Park and Recreation Department; it is open to the public Wednesday-Sunday from noon-5:00 p.m.