Competitive Punning! This Guy’s Year-long Study of the Punniest People

Punderdome hosts getting ready to celebrate the 4th Anniversary of the Punderdome 3000. – Courtesy photo

After a year of researching the subculture of pun competitions and pop culture pun wars, Joe Berkowitz compiled his punny adventures into a book: “Away With Words.”

By Monica Sanchez

Yes, competitive punning is apparently a lot bigger than internet trolls battling in 140 characters or less. And it has a whole subculture behind it!

In the heart of New York City, followers and participants of the competitive punning scene gather to get their fill of all the jokes they’re normally shamed for breaking out in giggles over.

After stumbling upon his first Punderdome 3000 competition, located in Brooklyn, Joe Berkowitz discovered a place where social conditioning to hold back on blurting out the corny, the weird, and the downright deplorable is left behind at the door.

Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 10.10.28 AM
Joe Berkowitz, author of “Away With Words.” – Courtesy photo / Joel Arbaje

This newfound discovery of a community brought together by humor and a simple desire to make each other laugh prompted Berkowitz to embark on a year-long journey researching the history of and the community’s dedication to the art of the pun. As part of his research, Berkowitz challenged himself to get on stage and experience what competitors go through when trying to master the art of the pun while battling for bragging rights and a coveted, mystery box.

Reflecting on the experience, Berkowitz says, “a pun competition is a timed word-puzzle comedy contest that you can’t really prepare for beyond just feeding your pun instincts with more practice. The thing is, though, the people who attend pun competitions really want you to do well, so they tend to be great and heavily responsive audiences” (Fast Company).

While he didn’t rise to the top and claim the prize of the mystery box, Berkowitz enjoyed his tour of the pun-tastic community. Other than attending pun competitions for his research, Berkowitz met with comedians, reviewed high-interest television shows, and dug around the  history of puns in ancient cultures all in order to uncover who had the best puns.

Berkowitz neglected to say whether he would attempt to battle in another Punderdome 3000 competition or if he would even be willing to go up against the best of the best in the O. Henry Pun Off World Championship, but he chronicled his journey of the competitive punning world in his book Away With Words.

Notice Berkowitz’s pun in the title? The book will surely have more punny sayings pulled from the world of competitive punning.

*Published by


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s