Oh what pun! — Stage fright

It is possible to set up a joke with a line other than “A man walks into a bar –” and still be funny.

“A Burlington reporter asked an actress if she had ever suffered from stage fright,” The Morning Star of Glens Falls punned on May 14, 1887. “She replied that she never had, except once when crossing the Rocky Mountains. The stage came within an ace of being tipped over a precipice.”

Switching to passive tense, the morning daily newspaper punned in the same issue: “A cowgirl getting off a railroad train at Hrison Point was asked by a polite young man if he ‘might help her alight.’ — ‘No, I thank you,’ said she. ‘I don’t smoke.’”

Pepto Bismol would not settle this ailment.

“A girl must be very sick to throw up her engagement,” The Granville Sentinel punned on Sept. 5, 1890.

Here’s one from the Sentinel on Oct. 10, 1890 about keeping humor in the family.

“Relatively speaking — ‘How is mother?’”

And from the same issue: “Has a business at steak — a butcher.”

This one may require a bit of pondering before getting the punchline.

“In the midst of strife, yet never in trouble nor troublesome — The letter “i.” — The Granville Sentinel, Jan. 9, 1891

Here’s another alphabet pun: “Always crossed — T.” — The Granville Sentinel, May 1, 1891

Morale, in fact, is not gloomy for these workers.

“Down in the world. — Miners.” — The Granville Sentinel, March 27, 1891

Give this pun the old college try.

“Somehow or other the college professor who prefers to stand well seems to be always looking about for a good chair.” — The Granville Sentinel, Jan. 16,1891.

How’s this for tourism promotion?

“Old maids should go to Akron, Ohio at once. It is said that 80,000,000 matches are made in that town every day.”

The Granville Sentinel often editorialized in support of temperance, but the editor could still find humor in this pun published March 6, 1891: “Takes a drop occasionally — the elevator.”

This is a seemingly timeless political pun.

“If all accounts are true, this country is just at present suffering not a little from lack of cents.” — The Granville Sentinel, Dec.13, 1889

Here are a few other puns collected from historic newspapers of the region:

  • “It is said that mermaids tie up their hair with marine bands.” — The Granville Sentinel, May 24,1889
  • “Some men have blossomed out in new spring suits, while others still remain seedy.” — The Granville Sentinel, May 31, 1889
  • “Fish are a pretty good instance of a case where neither end is meat.” — The Granville Sentinel, June 14, 1889
  • “A man buried in thought is usually able to resurrect himself.” — The Granville Sentinel, June 21, 1889

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Freelance history writer and documentary film producer from Ticonderoga, NY