Looks like I have today's puzzle in The New York Times today. Can't embed it, but for those who are subscribers to their crossword, you can get it here.
I also have the puzzle on Visual Thesaurus today, but since it's a subscription-only service, you'll have to settle for the link here.
When I think of puns, I think of those horrid riddles printed on the sides of children's dixie cups. I don't think I laughed at any of them once. Mind you, I was a very bitter child, some even called me "the 40 year-old midget."
Why are people compelled to say "orange you glad I [something-or-other]" whilst holding up a piece of citrus fruit? Do they really think we've never heard that one before a billion times at least?
Everyone of these gags are older than dirt. Good word for them too: "gag." That's most people's reaction to them
Yet why the harsh reactions? Is it because the punster knows they're misusing the language in this I'm-a-light-entertainer/aren't-I-being-so-clever way that it becomes this bizarre ultra-so-not-ironic-it-somehow-became-ironic fashion, making us want to punch them squarely in the nose? I'll never know.
Yet, oddly enough, puns and that sort of wordplay kind of work in crosswords (sort of).
My best guess as to why is because of ambiguities in the language, you cannot help but be suprised. And we all know the "surprise" element is the bit that makes you laugh in comedy. Plus, there's the fact that the printed word is always going to deliver the zinger straight-faced
But then again, are crossword puzzles really that funny? I've smirked a bit solving a couple, and yes, there are times when the clue and entry combination perform this ballet of apposite excellence, I can't help myself but to smile. But do they work when you retell the joke/gag/clue/etc. to another person? Let's try it out with a couple of my own clues -- two puns followed by two riddles (letter count of the answers in parenthesis):
Throws a Christmas tree? (14)
Having the experience of years of beer drinking? (14)
Place you might find an underground newspaper (11)
Visas may be needed to work here (3)
I'll give you a moment to think about those answers.
Just a bit more
This, dear readers, is what we call "Spoiler Space."
Okay, you got them yet?
The answers to those examples are MAKES THE FIR FLY, OLDER BUDWEISER, TIME CAPSULE, and ATM respectively.
You're rolling in the aisles, aren't ya?
Well, for ill or for worse, they're a puzzlemaking convention that we do tend to strive for. It certainly breaks up the monotony of straight clues about geography or what-have-you. Let me hear it from all y'all what were some of the best/worst examples you've stumbled upon in your puzzle solving in the comments section below.