Groaner of the Third Kind

Copyright ©1997 by Paul Niquette.  All rights reserved.

  • A flounder
  • A lobster 
  • A native of Hong Kong who has been run over by a cement truck
  • A shrimp
Of the four words and phrases above, which one does not fit?
The flounder, of course. 
The other three are all 'crushed asians.'

Now that you know the answer, you may indulge in smugness whenever you inflict this monster on others. Sophisticated: The Magazine has classified this pun as a Groaner of the Third Kind. Here is another.
    Stimulated by a press interview given by a notorious participant in an American scandal more than by reports from Europe on a singular accomplishment in genetic science, one editorial advisor suggested a pun for publication using the 'synthetic quote' (SQ) form.,,
    "I am ewe."
      -- Cloned sheep to its mother.
After recovering from diaphragmatic paroxysms with the timely assistance of those wonderful 911 people, the Editor-in-Chief was gratified to obtained a new entry for the groaner collection.

Analysis Alert

Consider the following infantile conundrum, recaste as an SQ...

    "Because people are just dying to get in."
      -- Jeopardy: "Why did they put a fence around the graveyard?"
As students of humor and absurdity, wit and comedy, members of the editorial staff at Puzzles with a Purpose have long wondered about why we groan. For the graveyard example, that "just" in the punch line gives it away. The thing is a pure example of' literality snuffing the life out of hyperbole -- what little life there may be. {Definitions}

nflated terms like 'dying' and 'killing' and 'crazy' have long ago withered into banality, like helium balloons gone flabby. Maybe the groan-effect derives from a counter-posed phenomenon: A puny pun breathing unwelcome life into a worn-out exaggeration. (What good are metaphors if you don't mix them?)

As overstatement, many a figure of speech started out as a silent groaner -- 'Groaners of the First Kind,' let's call them.

  • Distressed by a loud boom-box on the subway seems to justify saying, "I could just kill him or her."
  • "Insanity is hereditary," reads the bumper sticker. "You get it from your children."
  • Someone might even name a television series, "Just Shoot Me." (Naah.)
  • Finding your fly unzipped immediately after giving a speech might lead one to declare, "I could just die."
But listen: Not a sound -- chagrin but no grin.

Subsequent literalizations ("dying to get into a graveyard") are mere Groaners of the Second Kind. Spontaneous anguish inflicted upon listeners is assured largely because those verbal clinkers are anything but the wages of creative effort.

    Going literal simply cannot be all that funny.
Which raises the question, Are Groaners of the Second Kind really puns at all? They score zero in the 'play-on-words' game.

Now, the staff at Puzzles with a Purpose enjoys collecting puns that are creative and fresh, off-beat and -- well, hyperbolic, some of them. Each is a Groaner of the Third Kind, like the one in this puzzle, and each rewards its telling with slack-jawed grimaces and primal vocalizations -- in the extreme, respiratory failure. Such works of art do not deserve the analytic ministrations of a confirmed nasal retentive. Nevertheless, the puzzle presented here ("crushed asians") shall be officially classified as...

    • Groaner, Third Kind
    • Creative Play on Words
    • Item-Out-of-Place
    • Preferred Delivery: Verbal
    • Pronunciation: Imprecise English
s for the categork "Preferred Deliverk," can there ever be ank other kind than verbal? Kes. This verk paragraph, for example, was evidentlk produced on a computer suffering from the exceptionallk scark turn-of-the-centurk bug.

Here are a few groaners for you to suffer from or classify, your choice.

  • To write with a broken pencil is pointless.
  • Evidence has been found that William Tell and his family were avid bowlers. Unfortunately, all the league records were destroyed in a fire. Thus we'll never know for whom the Tells bowled.
  • A man rushed into the doctor's office and shouted, "Doctor! I think I'm shrinking!" The doctor calmly responded, "You'll just have to be a little patient."
  • What's the definition of a will? (It's a dead giveaway.) 
  • A famous Viking explorer returned home from a voyage and found his name missing from the town register. His wife complained to the local civic official, who apologized profusely saying, "I must have taken Leif off my census."
  • Did you hear about the guy whose whole left side was cut off? He's all right now.
  • A native American was feeling sick. After a brief examination, the medicine man took out a thin strip of elk hide and instructed him to bite off, chew and swallow one inch of the leather every day. After a month, the medicine man returned to see how his patient was feeling. The fellow and said, "The thong is ended, but the malady lingers on."
  • The dead batteries were given out free of charge.
  • An anthropologist was cataloging South American folk remedies with the assistance of a tribal brujo who indicated that the leaves of a particular fern were a sure cure for any case of constipation. When the anthropologist expressed his doubts, the brujo looked him in the eye and said, "Let me tell you, with fronds like these, who needs enemas?"
  • Two vultures board an airplane, each carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess [flight attendent] looks at them and says, "I'm sorry, gentlemen, only one carrion allowed per passenger." 
  • Did you hear that NASA recently put a bunch of Holsteins into low earth orbit?  They called it the herd shot 'round the world.
  • Two boll weevils grew up in South Carolina. One went to Hollywood and became a famous actor. The other stayed behind in the cotton fields and never amounted to much. The second one, naturally, became known as the lesser of two weevils. 
  • Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, but when they lit a fire in the craft, it sank proving once again that you can't have your kayak and heat it, too. 
  • A dentist and a manicurist fought tooth and nail. 
  • A three legged dog walks into a saloon in the Old West. He slides up to the bar and announces: "I'm looking for the man who shot my paw." 
  • A thief fell and broke his leg in wet concrete. He became a hardened criminal. 
  • Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root canal? He wanted to transcend dental medication. 
  • A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse. "But why?" they asked, as they moved off. "Because," he said, "I can't stand chess nuts boasting in an open foyer."
  • The professor discovered that her theory of earthquakes was on shaky ground. 
  • She didn't know where the sun went at night, so she stayed up all night thinking about it. Then it dawned on her. 
  • The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference.
  • A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.
  • A woman has twins, and gives them up for adoption. One of them goes to a family in Egypt and is named "Amal." The other goes to a family in Spain; they name him "Juan." Years later, Juan sends a picture of himself to his birth mother. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she wishes she also had a picture of Amal. Her husband responds, "They're twins! If you've seen Juan, you've seen Amal." 
  • These friars were behind on their belfry payments, so they opened up a small florist shop to raise funds. Since everyone liked to buy flowers from the men of God, a rival florist across town thought the competition was unfair. He asked the good fathers to close down, but they would not. He went back and begged the friars to close. They ignored him. So, the rival florist hired Hugh MacTaggart, the roughest and most vicious thug in town to "persuade" them to close. Hugh beat up the friars and trashed their store, saying he'd be back if they didn't close up shop. Terrified, they did so, thereby proving that: Hugh, and only Hugh, can prevent florist friars.
  • Police were called to a daycare where a three-year-old was resisting a rest. 
  • A thief broke into the local police station and stole all the lavatory equipment. A spokesperson was quoted as saying, "We have absolutely nothing to go on."
  • Which reminds me: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority made an exceptionally clever decision not to provide public restrooms. Uncanny!
Send your favorites to

ere are selections from online submittals for your analysis...
> Those who jump off a bridge in Paris are in Seine.
> A backward poet writes inverse.
> A man's home is his castle, in a manor of speaking.
> Dijon vu - the same mustard as before.
> Practice safe eating - always use condiments.
> Shotgun wedding: a case of wife or death.
> A man needs a mistress just to break the monogamy.
> A hangover is the wrath of grapes.
> Dancing cheek-to-cheek is really a form of floor play.
> Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?
> Condoms should be used on every conceivable occasion.
> Reading while sunbathing without sunscreen makes you... well red.
> When two egotists meet, it's an I for an I.
> A bicycle can't stand on its own because it is two tired.
> Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
> In democracy your vote counts. In feudalism your count votes.
> She was engaged to a boy with a wooden leg but broke it off.
> A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
> If you don't pay your exorcist, you get repossessed.
> With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.
> When a clock is hungry, it goes back four seconds.
> The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully  recovered.
> You get stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.
> Local Area Network in Australia: the LAN down under.
> He often broke into song because he couldn't find the key.
> Every calendar's days are numbered.
> A lot of money is tainted - it taint yours and it taint mine.
> A boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat.
> A plateau is a high form of flattery.
> A midget fortuneteller who escapes from prison is a small medium at large.
> Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the end.
> Once you've seen one shopping center, you've seen a mall.
> FBI Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead-to-know basis.
> Santa's helpers are subordinate clauses.
> Acupuncture is a jab well done.
> He had a photographic memory that was never developed.
> For reasons I need not explain, I intend to name my first yacht Fanny Hull.
Groaners selected from on-line submittals since 1997

Dad, are we pyromaniacs? Yes, we arson.

What do you call a pig with laryngitis? Disgruntled.

Writing my name in cursive is my signature move.

Why do bees stay in their hives during winter? Swarm.

If youíre bad at haggling, youíll end up paying the price.

Just so everyone is clear, Iím going to put my glasses on.

A commander walks into a bar and orders everyone around.

I lost my job as a stage designer. I left without making a scene.

Never buy flowers from a monk. Only you can prevent florist friars.

How much did the pirate pay to get his ears pierced? A buccaneer.

I once worked at a cheap pizza shop to get by. I kneaded the dough.

My friends and I have named our jazz group "Duvet." Itís a cover band.

I lost my girlfriendís audiobook, and now Iíll never hear the end of it.

Why is "dark" spelled with a k and not c? Because you canít see in the dark.

Why is it unwise to share your secrets with a clock? Well, time will tell.

When I told my contractor I didnít want carpeted steps, they gave me a blank stare.

Bono and The Edge walk into a Dublin bar, and the bartender says, ďOh no, not U2 again.Ē

Prison is just one word to you, but for some people itís a whole sentence.

Scientists studied the effects of alcohol on a personís walk, and the result were staggering.

Iím trying to organize a hide and seek tournament, but good players are really hard to find.

I got over my addiction to chocolate, marshmallows, and nuts. It was a rocky road.

What do you say to comfort a friend whoís struggling with grammar? There, their, theyíre.

I asked the clerkwhere the Schwarznegger dolls are, and he replied, "Aisle B, back.Ē

What do surgeons say to patients who insist on closing up their own incision? Suture self.

The benefits of eating dried grapes are all about raisin awareness.

Twenty-five groaners received from Al Bongarzone in 2021

hyperbole noun [Latin, from Greek hyperbole excess, hyperbole, hyperbola, from hyperballein to exceed, from hyper- + ballein to throw--more at devil] (15th century): extravagant exaggeration (as "mile-high ice-cream cones").

-- Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary
    Short definition: groaner of the first kind (1997 S:TM). -- Ed

pun noun [perhaps from Italian puntiglio fine point, quibble] (1662): the usually humorous use of a word in such a way as to suggest two or more of its meanings or the meaning of another word similar in sound.

-- Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary
    Short definition: play on words (1939 unattested). -- Ed

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