Food Fans and Other Punsters, Unite!
"A pun is the lowest form of humor, unless you thought of it yourself," said columnist Doug Larson.
That quote occurred to me when I browsed Food'lebrities, a new Web site with a simple equation as its tagline: "Food + Fame = Funny." Well, at least that's the hope. The site combines celebrity names with food terms to come up with puns both tortured and inspired, each one with a manipulated photograph to illustrate it.
I suppose it's a fine, subjective line between tortured and inspired, but here's my definition, at least when it comes to Food'lebrities. I consider it tortured to render the celebrity's name unreadable, or add multiple extra syllables, or come up with something that doesn't even rhyme. (The damning evidence: Milk Shake Guevara, Chaka Continental Breakfast, Cate Pigs in a Blanchett.) Inspired ones, on the other hand, have a certain elegance, and they tend to be shorter, punchier; my favorites add or change a mere letter or two and are fun to say, not just read. (Yolko Ono, David Lee Broth, Kiwi Herman. I especially like Pita Gabriel because it makes you say the musician's name with a British accent.)
In some cases, the images improve the pun dramatically. Pea Townshend becomes funnier when you see the little faces of The Who member nestled inside a perfect green pod.
But I suppose I should back up and ask the obvious question: Why? Well, the site was founded by a group of musicians in their 20s who live in Brooklyn. They had been playing the pun game ever since one of their members accidentally referred to pop singer Nelly Furtado as "Nelly Frittata."
"From there, things spiraled out of control," said Alex Billig, the Web site developer who had the idea to take the game online. "Once you get involved with the game, it is impossible to look at a menu or turn on the TV or go to sleep at night without food'lebrities popping into your mind."
Between fan submissions and the members' own creations, the site has compiled 100 food'lebrities within a month, and gets about 2,000 hits a day. Billig agreed to answer some questions about the site via e-mail.
Q. What's the dumbest idea for a pun you've gotten? Have any been too ridiculous to put on the site?
A. YES! When we created this site, we believed that the game was so simple that anyone could do it -- we were wrong! Bad submissions come in two forms -- puns that are not actually puns, and puns that have nothing to do with the premise (Michange Jorduice, which is some ridiculous amalgamation of Michael Jordan and Orange Juice, and Marilyn Monsoon, which obviously has nothing at all to do with food). I'm actually considering making a blog of rejected food'lebrities, because often times they are funnier than the real ones.
Q. What's your all-time favorite, and why?
A. There is a general consensus among us that "Baracoli Obamelet" is the most sophisticated pun because both the first name and the last name are independent foods ... logically combined into a single dish. As far as images go, "Goudacris" is my favorite and has been a major crowd pleaser. The idea of a Southern rapper using Dutch cheese as a kind of status symbol is just amazing. I think it is also unintentionally great at providing social commentary on materialism in America, and the ridiculousness of some of the things we place value in.
Q. Why food and celebrities? (That is, why not celebrities and, say, animals or maybe cars?)
A. Since we started doing this, people have been referring us to their other pun'lebrity creations. So far this is the best one I've seen. We have plans to create some other pun'lebrity blogs in the future, but for now we are sticking with food, because that's how we came up with it, there seems to be an endless supply of material, it is a universal vocabulary, and slapstick comedy has taught us that the juxtaposition of food and people is funny (banana peels, cream pies, etc).
True enough. Now, as you've been reading this, how many food-celebrity puns have popped into your head? Originality is harder than you'd think. I was so proud of myself for "Elvis Parsley," but then I used the search function on Food'lebrities, and, sure enough, they had beaten me to it. Do your best in the comments below, and I'll pick my favorite to win a special giveaway book from our stash. I'll try to make it something funny, if not punny.
-- Joe Yonan
May 13, 2009; 12:15 PM ET
| Tags: Joe Yonan, Web sites
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