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Laugh, cry, groan: How a St. Louis punny-man and his daughter created the ‘Punderdome’ pun event

Fred Firestone poses with the Clap-O-Meter, which was handmade for the Punderdome, a pun competition event.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio
Fred Firestone poses with the Clap-O-Meter, which was handmade for the Punderdome, a pun competition event.

Puns. You may laugh. You may cry. And if one is particularly bad, you may even groan.

For St. Louis punny-man Fred Firestone, a well-done pun should never be considered the lowest form of humor.

“Commonly-held wisdom is that you hear a pun and associate it with a groan, but our objective is that it can be knee-slapper if done right,” Firestone told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air.

Firestone and his daughter, Jo Firestone, created a pun competition that draws nearly 500 people each month to watch and compete for the most laughs in New York City. This weekend, the competition, called Punderdome, comes to St. Louis, where Firestone makes his home.

While there are other pun competitions, most notably the O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships in Austin, Texas, the Punderdome is notable because it allows the audience to choose the best puns based on the Clap-O-Meter.”

Competitors are given a theme and 90 seconds to work out their puns on a whiteboard with two minutes to ultimately share their best puns with the crowd.

Firestone shared an example that was made in response to the theme of “Women’s Rights:”

“A buddy of mine and I recently took a hiking trip at the inception of the Colorado River, a very shallow river, and the question was Roe vs. Wade?”

On Saturday night, 12 people from St. Louis’ improv community will compete for the Punderdome champion title, but six people at the door will have the chance at a slot to compete as well. Unfortunately, tickets are already sold out.

Related Event

What: The Punderdome Pun Competition
When: Saturday, July 29; doors open at 7:00 p.m., event starts at 8:00 p.m.
Where: Duck Room at Blueberry Hill, 6504 Delmar Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63130
More information.

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region. 

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Kelly Moffitt joined St. Louis Public Radio in 2015 as an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio's talk shows St. Louis on the Air.

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