Hello everyone. My name is Susan Harrison and I love puns. I’ve been loving puns for several years now and haven’t got clean yet. The man I married is Pi-lingual. He speaks English and Pun. Puns are great; they are fun, silly, wordy and joyful. Sometimes they can be clever too.
I love the fun to be had by the comedian who tells a bad pun and acknowledges it’s bad, or who plays the innocent clown and pretends he’s not sure why the audience are groaning. I love it all. The sheer volume of puns in Tim Vine’s act makes it look easy but we all know it’s not. The speed of delivery, the playfulness with the audience and the range of the puns themselves from classic groaners to slow-burning clever word play, are all reasons why Tim Vine is so talented and so deservedly successful.
Funnily enough the kind of comedy I make does not always feature a huge amount of puns – in fact I’m not sure if I have more than one in my Edinburgh show this year –but I do love them, just as much as I love visual gags, creating and breaking tension, parody, comedy that comes from character and situations and all of the myriad ways of the tricky business of making audiences laugh.
I have very broad taste. I like the variety of tools at our disposal and the fact that we can use any combination of things to make a joke a joke. If that joke comes in to being by way of a pun then so be it.
But at some point in recent years puns went out of fashion. As far as I’m concerned comedy has no business being fashionable, or cool, or sexy for that matter. Comedy isn’t about finding that perfect combination of alluring and whimsical, it’s not about skinny jeans and annoying hair. It’s about making a group of strangers laugh: simple as that.
Unfortunately rules are rules in the comedy industry and I didn’t get the memo. So I called my show Folken Britain, when I should have called it Susan Harrison Does A Show With Some Characters Which Contains No Wordplay.
After Chortle included me in an article which was essentially the Top 10 Shite Titles of the fringe (sarcastic thanks guys!) and London Is Funny included me in a list of 20 Free Shows to see at the fringe (genuine thanks guys!) with the disclaimer ‘unforgiveable pun in the title’, I got to thinking: ‘Wow. I really fucked up. I really shouldn’t have been so silly and flippant. I should have approached my comedy show with the gravitas it deserves.’ It doesn’t.
That is why I am printing out 20,000 sticky labels with the words Susan Harrison.: Insert Title Here on them and attaching them to my flyers. I’m not. But if I was I’d probably be up for a Cunning Stunt award. Although because of the implied wordplay in the title of that award I wouldn’t accept it unless they changed the name to ‘Stunning Cunt Award’ – which would send the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society mad with censorious asterisks to cover up the offensive word. Although if that happened someone would probably come and stick big cocks over them all in protest. And by big cocks, yes, I do mean large cockerels.
- Susan Harrisons’s Folken Britain is on at 17:30 at Le Monde on the PBH Free Fringe.