Gary McNair: 'Puns are a simple, joyous pleasure'
- Jay Richardson
- 11 October 2019
As the 6th Annual Champipunship prepares to unleash another night of unfettered wordplay, its playwright creator Gary McNair tells us why it's his favourite night of the year
More polarising than a Ricky Gervais transgender gag or a Louis CK comeback gig, puns are arguably the most divisive form of comedy, spanning the ridiculous, the sublime and the creakily naff. Happily, the Annual Champipunship rewards punsters that elicit both laughs and groans, acknowledging that in the realm of convoluted and inspired wordplay, brevity can be the soul of wit and shit.
Celebrating its sixth year of competition, the Champipunship is now well established. Founder and MC Gary McNair likens it to 'my second birthday. It's my favourite night of the year. I adore puns. It's a very quick way to bond with people. At the heart of a pun is taking something that seems to make sense one way, inverting it, and somehow it becomes funny. Which is the underlying basis of comedy. In writing plays, all I want to do is make someone stop and look at something they've already looked at slightly differently. And that's completely what a pun does. When they're good there's nothing more satisfying.'
Featuring a line-up of seasoned pundamentalists and newcomers, with spaces available for a few more, McNair advises wannabe wordsmiths fancying a (wise) crack at the title to get in touch via his Twitter account. Through an inventive series of rounds, with costume, visual and musical elements – facilitated by house band The Pun Lovin' Criminals – and a raffle for mental-health charity Tiny Changes, there's also plenty of opportunity for the crowd to join in.
'The competitors always get to have a go first and then we open it out to the audience,' McNair explains. 'That's where a lot of the big laughs come from because there are so many people who love puns and are ready to shout out. They're only allowed to heckle me though, no one else. Puns are a simple, joyous pleasure for everyone.'
The 6th Annual Champipunship, Òran Mór, Glasgow, Wednesday 16 October.