When Elden Carnahan’s brother shared with him the word “univocalic,” which he’d learned from A.Word.A.Day, Elden of course started thinking “contest idea.” He looked on his handy-dandy Master Contest List at his website, nrars.org, and didn’t see anything limiting a piece of writing to a single vowel. And he also was reminded of a Czarist-era contest in which you had to write a newspaper headline using just the left half of a keyboard (results here, under that week’s new contest). Hence the idea for Week 1017. . Writing in the form of a newspaper headline conveniently lets you omit “a,” “an” or “the.” (Note that I didn’t specify that it had to be a tabloid headline, as Week 299 did, but screaming sensationalism is certainly one funny tack to take.) As I noted, the letter Y used as a vowel is going to be a bonus; you may use it in addition to the A, E, I, O or U that you choose. The headlines may be about something real (if interesting) or entirely made up. You still shouldn’t libel someone, though I figured that Mitt Romney isn’t going to file a lawsuit claiming that his reputation has been besmirched by the “grift” example.
Casting aspersions? Ah, pun them: The results of Week 1013
In last week’s Conversational, I mentioned that my predecessor, the Czar, often judged the contest beginning with the entries submitted on the final day of the entry window, because on the whole, they were a lot better than those submitted immediately after the contest was announced; it was both to reassure himself that the contest wouldn’t be a bust (it so rarely was, but it did happen) and to show him a useful level for setting the bar.
I inverted the stack of anonymous printouts over as well, not very far just a few pages into the pun-names of Week 1013. (One person played on the former vice president “Don Cheney,” as in “Don Chain E when interrogating prisoners if Chains A through D break.”) And sure enough, I started checking off dozens of funny if ridiculous puns on people’s names, which soon had me discarding Plan B of running more limericks from last week to fill the page. (And yes, I did end up finding ink-worthy entries throughout the stack, including among the earlier entrants.)
When silliness counts as a valid criterion in a humor contest, it’s a much more subjective call on what’s “funny” rather than dumb. The craziest setup this week was the one incorporating a judge, Jack Abramoff and Nomar Garciaparra, but it made me laugh out loud for its sheer nuttiness.
There were two types of entries that were in contention up to the end, but I ended up not using: First were those in which the name being used had no connection with the joke; there were a number of funny examples of these, but they seemed not to work well with the other entries in which the person’s . So that knocked out straightforward entries like “What do pickle jars say to the pickler? ‘“Phyllis, Diller’” (Jane Hoffman) as well as elaborate constructions such as this one from Kevin Dopart: “Dujardin wired a dozen red roses to Bejo for the premiere of ‘The Artist.’ What did Diesel do? More appropriately, Vincent Gray.”