Puns of all kinds—cheesy, groan-inducing and comedic gold—were the order of the day at Marquette High School's Annual Pun Contest last Wednesday.
The fast-paced competition pitted 16 quick-witted students against each other in a race to see who could swiftly come up with the most clever word play on demand. The standing-room-only crowd of raucous students were vested in the competition, which is in its third year. Four audience members were—somewhat reluctantly—drafted into the competition before its start because original competitors were missing.
Competitors were divided into four groups of four. For each round, a prepared scenario was given to each group. Each student in the group had a turn to come up with a pun for the scenario in five seconds. For example, one scenerio was: "The Chicago Cubs have put themselves in a financial position to offer Albert Pujols a contract next offseason." Responses included: "Hopefully that'll be a swing and a miss," and "Bet that will break the bank."
The audience about about 120 cheered and egged on their favorites, and were quick to groan when the puns were too much of a stretch. A group of three judges—English teacher and three-year veteran judge Jocelyn Fretwell, math teacher Julie Furtengler and citizen-judge Bob Szvery—decided if the offered pun passed the muster. Competitors at times argued their case, but often to little success. Two strikes meant the student was out of the running.
Three rounds of punning whittled the field to five finalists, then an unprecedented first place tie. Mike Ebert, the contest sponsor, had a ready solution. Jeff Klein and Ryan Sieli, who tied for first place, were forced into a best two-out-of-three finale. Sieli, of Ballwin, prevailed over Klein, of Chesterfield.
Sieli, a junior and the crowd favorite, was pleased with his win. "I don't really practice before the contest, but I perform stand-up comedy so I guess that makes me mentally quick," he said.
"I guess as long as Sieli's around, I'll never win first place," sophomore Klein said.
- First Place: Junior Ryan Sieli
- Second Place: Sophomore Jeff Klein
- Third Place: Junior Rob Weider
- Fourth Place: Denny Ganahl
- Fifth Place: Freshman Ricky Dolan