The Pun-derful World of Competitive Punning

In L.A. Weekly, Zachary Pincus-Roth profiles 38-year-old Ben Ziek, a world pun champion titleholder:

In the first round, Ziek faces Adam Bass, a writer for Groupon in Chicago. For Bass’ whole life, he says, whenever he hears a word like scarf, he thinks immediately of both neckwear and voracious eating: “People say, ‘You were born to do this.'”

His dad, Mike Bass, took him to the Pun-Off as a 30th-birthday present. The former sports editor for the St. Paul Pioneer Press used to pun — but when his sons started doing it, he realized its effect. “My head would be spinning and I’d go, enough was enough,” he says. “I had to stop. I had to be the adult.”

The category is “art and artists,” and Bass’ college art classes come in handy. “I gotta get out of here, I have a Weegee,” referencing the famous photographer as he reaches back toward his underwear. But Ziek is always quick to respond — “I’m excited for this competition. That’s why I Rodin to town early” — and eventually outlasts him.

Bass is satisfied. “It’s like that boxer who wants to go five to 10 minutes with the heavyweight champion,” he says.

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Photo: Meme Binge