Attila the Pun

I was reminded this week of the moment that I laughed harder than ever in my life. The Facebook status line trend of the week is to post your favorite quote from Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Now, there are many fantastic examples to quote from. “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!” Or “This is an ex-parrot.” And, “Number One…the Larch.”

But, my favorite line has as much to do with my state of mind at the time I heard the actual pun. I was working, going to school, and performing in a local straw hat theatre production. So, when I returned home, I was usually so wired and excited that I needed to just sit and unwind before I could go to bed. Reruns of Python were airing late at night, so one evening I was introduced to “The Attila the Hun Show.” The episode contains several puns on the name, such as Attila the Nun. And then, in an animation that lasted only a few seconds, I witnessed the vicious and energetic Attila the Bun rampaging across a banquet table.

Now, generally, I find the pun to be among the lowest forms of humor. But, that night, I was exhausted and my laughter guard was down. The ridiculous pun and Terry Gilliam’s simple cartoon just caught me perfectly and I lost it. I don’t know how long I laughed uncontrollably. I laughed so hard that I fell out of the chair and onto my knees, almost in supplication to the gods of humor.

In retrospect, this was the master of all puns. For me, Attila the Bun succeeded brilliantly in every aspect by which a successful pun is measured. First, it built on a previously established theme, ramping up the silliness a notch with each repetition. Second, the message was short, simple and impactful. Third, the transition to the pun included the set up introduction by a much longer joke — a newscaster voiceover saying, “That’s the news for wombats, and now, Attila the Bun!” In some perhaps bizarre ways, this perfect pun exhibited some of the traits of high quality sermons.

Anyway, I don’t wish to belabor this analysis, so I will go back to work, taking great pains to avoid toiling too much in my efforts. Perhaps I will start with a cup of coffee and read the latest news on efforts to repeal the recently passed health care bill. “Well, that’s all for Attila the Bun. And now — idiots!”