O. Henry Pun-off Day – May 20, 2023

O. Henry Pun-off Day is celebrated every year on May 20 in the United States. The celebrations are carried out with great festivity in Austin, Texas. On this day, pun enthusiasts gather to compete in the battle of wits. It is a spoken word competition that everyone who enjoys puns looks forward to. The day is named after the great author O. Henry, who was known for his use of puns, wordplay, and wit in his literary work. Do you think you have what it takes to be crowned the O. Henry Pun-off Day champion? Let’s put your vocabulary to the test!

History of O. Henry Pun-off Day

The O. Henry Pun-off Day competitions include two contests: Punniest of Show and Punslingers. The Punniest of Show contestants are given 90 seconds to share rehearsed material based on a specific theme. These skits may include props, costumes, and music. The judges grade them on a scale of one to ten. The top three points scorers receive the competition’s winning prizes.

The Punslingers contest focuses on improvisation. Competitors are paired up and given topics to act out in real-time. When the judges signal, each player has five seconds to deliver a pun. This continues until a contestant falters and is eliminated. The winner is the last person standing.

William Sydney Porter used the pen name, O. Henry. During the last decade of his life, he became well known for his short stories. These stories were well-loved for their wordplay, puns, and unexpected endings. On September 11, 1862, in Greensboro, North Carolina, O. Henry founded “The Rolling Stone,” a satirical newspaper. When “The Rolling Stone” was no longer profitable, he began writing for the “Houston Post.”

O. Henry also worked as an Austin bank teller and was accused of embezzling funds in 1896. He fled to New Orleans and then to Honduras, before returning to Austin in 1897 when his wife became ill. Following her death, O. Henry was imprisoned in Ohio. And this is where he began writing adventure stories. He was released from prison in 1902 and moved to New York City, where he began publishing under his pen name. “Cabbages and Kings” was the title of his first collection of stories, which he wrote while imprisoned.

O. Henry Pun-off Day timeline

1899
“O. Henry”

Under a pen name, the author publishes “Whistling Dick's Christmas Stocking,” for the first time.

1902
The Beginning of a Publishing Career

O. Henry writes 381 short stories beginning in 1902.

1907
Second Marriage

He marries Sarah Lindsey Coleman.

1910
Death

O. Henry passes away due to liver cirrhosis.

O. Henry Pun-off Day FAQs

What was O. Henry best known for?

American writer O. Henry is famous for his short stories. His tales romanticized the mundane, particularly the lives of ordinary people in New York City. His stories frequently had unexpected twists and turns.

What is O. Henry's most popular story?

“The Gift of the Magi,” published in 1906, is about a husband and wife, Jim and Della, who have little money to spend on Christmas presents for each other.

Why did O. Henry change his name?

After serving three years of his sentence, William Sydney Porter was released from prison. To conceal his past, he legally changed his name to O. Henry and moved to New York City to write for a magazine.

O. Henry Pun-off Day Activities

  1. Share your puns

    There is no better way to celebrate O. Henry Pun-off Day than to share your best puns with your friends. Invite them to share their puns too. The louder the groans in response to a pun, the better!

  2. Organize your very own pun-off

    Don’t worry if you can’t make your way to Austin, Texas! On O. Henry Pun-off Day, gather your friends and organize your very own pun-off. Create your own versions of the Punniest of Shows and Punslinger.

  3. Read O. Henry

    After a day of punny business, relax with O. Henry’s stories. This is the best way to conclude O. Henry Pun-off Day. Read the stories you haven’t read before and revisit your favorites.

5 Interesting Facts About Puns

  1. Punning is ancient

    The Mayans were renowned for their puns.

  2. There are four different kinds of puns

    They are homophonic, homographic, homonymic puns, and portmanteau.

  3. “Bob’s Burgers” had a pun quota

    Every episode had to have at least four puns.

  4. Puns are trickier than they seem

    Linguist Salvatore Attardo describes puns as a neurological process.

  5. It’s hard to teach computers puns

    Even the best artificial intelligence has not been able to pun.

Why We Love O. Henry Pun-off Day

  1. Puns are fun

    We love O. Henry Pun-off Day because puns are fun! Even though they make us cringe, puns are a sign of wit and intelligence. Furthermore, it’s always fun to celebrate a day dedicated to being silly.

  2. It’s a time for friendly competition

    Another great thing about O. Henry Pun-off Day is that it promotes friendly competition. Even though the competitors are serious about winning and defending their championship, the competition is rooted in laughter and good times.

  3. It celebrates O. Henry

    O. Henry Pun-off Day also honors the life of one of the world’s greatest authors. The day inspires us to read his books, write our own short stories, and bounce back after challenging times.

O. Henry Pun-off Day dates

YearDateDay
2023May 20Saturday
2024May 20Monday
2025May 20Tuesday
2026May 20Wednesday
2027May 20Thursday

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