The Pun Also Rises

John Pollack

Some people may dismiss puns as the lowest form of humor. But this attitude is a relatively recent development in the sweep of history. In The Pun Also Rises, John Pollack — a former Presidential Speechwriter for Bill Clinton, and winner of the world pun championship — explains how punning revolutionized language and made possible the rise of modern civilization. Integrating evidence from history, pop culture, literature, comedy, science, business and everyday life, this book will make readers reconsider everything they think they know about puns.

Pollack leads readers from the pyramids of ancient Egypt to the smoky coffeehouses of Newton’s London to the high-tech labs of today’s top neuroscientists. Along the way, he identifies what may be humanity’s first known pun, recounts the deadly punning duels of Polynesian legend, details William Shakespeare’s invention of the knock-knock joke and rediscovers Thomas Jefferson’s lost commentary on punning in America. Weaving a playful yet authoritative narrative, Pollack also explores how the brain processes humorous wordplay and suggests why — in evolutionary terms — punsters just might end up getting the last laugh.

Provocative and fun, The Pun Also Rises illuminates the powerful role that puns play in human creativity and progress, and why they will always be more than some antics.

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VIDEO: JOHN POLLACK ON PUN SAFARI



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VIDEO: JOHN AT THE WORLD PUN CHAMPIONSHIPS

(John is in polka-dots; the audience in stitches)