O Henry Pun-Off
Austin Events and Festivals
O Henry Pun-Off
May 22, 2010
O. Henry Museum
The fact that the O. Henry Pun-Off has been a regular May occurrence since the late 1990s suggests that there's actually an audience for this deeply annoying art.
I try not to belittle any organization and I have much admiration for those who construct and create, from artists to entrepreneurs to festival organizers.
But, in my experience, serial punning is about detaching and distancing yourself from those around you. You simply can't have a meaningful or substantive relationship with someone when every time you engage them in conversation, they pull out the verbal equivalent of a whoopie cushion.
Still, for the right personality, this can be a fun event.
And for those who don't know, this annual event is held in honor of one of Austin's more famous 19th century citizens - William Sydney Porter, who wrote under the pseudonym O. Henry.
O. Henry lived in Austin for a few years during the 1880s and 1890s where joined the Hill City Quartet (the 19th century version of a 6th Street band?) and met and married his wife (who would later die of TB). Among other things, he worked as a bank teller at the First National Bank of Austin from which he would later be charged with embezzling and would serve three years of a five year federal prison sentence.
He wrote under various pseudoymns while in prision and his literary success grew after his release when he moved to New York, but Austinites would always remember and honor him as well. His Austin residence has been turned into a small museum containing his writing desk and other furnishings.
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