‘We're the Morris dancers of the comedy community’
The current UK Pun Champion Leo Kearse gets into superhero guise as he reveals that sex and puns don’t always make perfect bedfellows
When did you realise that the punning style of comedy was the route you would take? Did storytelling not appeal?
Storytelling? It's a comedy festival, not a storytelling festival (though you wouldn't know it looking at all these maudlin jokeless shows about comedian's relationships with their fathers. STOP TRYING TO WIN COMEDY AWARDS BY BEING EMOTIONAL, IT'S BORING!). I do regular stand-up as well as puns, I just do puns as Pun-Man because you can't mix puns in with regular stand-up: they're like oil and water. I never used to do puns until I shared a flat with former UK Pun Champion Darren Walsh, and we punned all day and all night. Then I vanquished him in this year's UK Pun Championship, like Darth Vader did with Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Can you tell us your all-time favourite pun?
‘I went for a pedicure this morning. It didn't work: I'm still attracted to children’. It's one of mine and I like it because it shows that puns aren't just pointless banal riddles for children; some of them are for adults.
Do you have a specific method of working ie. do you sit down at the start of the day and announce: ‘I’m going to write four puns today’? Or do you trust that they’ll pop into your head when you’re shopping / jogging / showering et al?
Yeah they come up all the time, you'll see a word or hear an expression or you'll be thinking about something and a pun pops into your head. I'm constantly writing them down on bits of paper: I've got half a binbag full. Twitter is great, it's like a storage unit for puns.
What’s the weirdest scenario you’ve been in when you’ve come up with a great joke / pun?
I've actually had to stop having sex to write a joke down. If you don't write it down immediately it can wisp away forever leaving you with a horrible feeling of loss and ennui. Also it's hard to maintain an erection while focused on repeating a joke in your head like a mantra so it doesn't disappear. So you have to write it down straight away, then see if you can apologise enough to get back on.
If you go two days without coming up with a workable pun, do you start to get the shakes?
This has never happened.
Do you think that punning is a bloke’s game? There seems to be a distinct shortage of female comics doing a full hour of punning stand-up at the Fringe. Is punning really such a wildly macho pursuit?
I can think of a few excellent female punners: Saskia Preston, Bec Hill. Maybe it doesn't attract women because it's pretty nerdy. We're the Morris dancers of the comedy community.
Do you make the kind of comedy that you like to see? Or would a night at a gig full of puns be some weird form of torture?
Yeah, I fucking love puns. People who hate puns are basically stupid idiots. I love all puns and the more stupid or contrived the better. Puns totally kick ass on some wet-lipped posh kid waffling on about LITERALLY the CRAZIEST thing that GENUINELY happened (it never happened). Puns are proper jokes, they have a twist and you have to engage your brain to enjoy them.
Leo Kearse: Pun-Man’s Pun Party, Frankenstein, 226 0000, 8–29 Aug (not 10, 17, 24), 8.30pm, free.