Some puns are great, and others are downright bad. Let’s explore what makes a pun bad and then we’ll give some examples of bad puns for you to groan along to.
Imagine the most negative reaction you’ve had to a pun. Can you think of one? Let’s talk about what made that pun so terrible, and what you can do to ensure your puns are funny.
State of Mind for Puns
First and foremost, people often think puns are bad when they are not in a humorous state of mind.
These are the times when someone will snap at you and say “stop goofing off!”. You can tell that they are not interested in hearing any sort of joke, and they probably cannot connect the dots with your puns being funny in that moment.
According to an article published in the International Journal of Humor Research, the state of mind of the receiver of humor can distort the message that the humorer was attempting to get across.
Even then, I’ve known certain people who simply do not find puns funny. Either they are jealous that they didn’t come up with the joke, or they are missing that weird component of our brains that find these word connections funny.
To people without a pun state of mind, every pun is a bad pun.
When they aren’t really puns
One of the reasons puns get such a bad name is that people say things they think are puns, but really they just use the same word with the same definition twice.
To simplify the definition of a pun, a pun points out similar sounding words with different meanings.
However, the worst puns aren’t really puns at all. Instead they’re just emphasizing the same word with the same meaning.
Take for instance, when a movie is named after a word, like Up! People all over the world thought they were very clever by using the word up in a normal sentence.
However, the movie doesn’t change the meaning of the word up, indeed the up in the title is referring to the direction.
Let’s make a scenario with two different jokes. You tell me which one is a “bad pun” and which one is a legitimate pun.
Doctor: How is your nose feeling?
Patient: It hurts.
Doctor: That stinks.
Doctor: Does your nose feel better?
Patient: Nah Strill hurts.
Do you understand why scenario 1 isn’t really a pun? The word stinks is slang for bad, but only because stinks means that something smells bad. It’s still the same meaning.
In the scenario 2, we get the two meanings with one phrase, nostril and nah still.