A Recipe for Adding Humor Using Wordplay
Canadian sisters Greta and Janet Podleski have been laughing their way to the bank since the release of their first cookbook, Looney Spoons, in 1996. The book spent 85 consecutive weeks on the national bestseller list and sold over 850,000 copies. They subsequently produced two more winning cookbooks: Crazy Spoons, and Eat, Shrink & Be Merry. I’d say they have the recipe for success—the key ingredient, humor.
Each cookbook uses the same format, a combination of delicious but healthy recipes, cartoons, and punny titles. The image above is a sample of the cartoon style created by Ted Martin who illustrated all three books (gotta love a grateful cheese wedge). Janet is the chief wit responsible for the prolific puns used to name chapters, recipes, and side titles. Here are some examples of her clever wordplay:
Chapter title examples
- “Meatless in Seattle – Viceless vegetarian vittles”
- “Romaine Empire – A kingdom of salads that’s sure to empress”
- “My Fair Ladle – Savory soups that require you to Doolittle”
- “A Chorus Loin – Broad ways with beef and pork”
- “Best Side Story – tantalizing side dishes to please the whole gang”
Recipe title examples
- “Veal of Fortune”
- “Loaf of my Life”
- “Manicotti Overboard”
- “The Thigh’s the Limit”
- “Nacho. Nacho. Man.”
- “Another One Bites the Crust”
- “Luciano’s Panzerotti”
- “Jerry Springrolls”
- “Darth Tater”
- “Lord of the Wings”
Side title examples
- “Return to Slender”
- “Fat or Fiction”
What these examples share is a humorous twist on a familiar term such as a movie title (Sleepless in Seattle), song name (Another One Bites the Dust), character (Darth Vader), television show (Wheel of Fortune), famous name (Jerry Springer), or popular expression (the sky’s the limit).
In all the examples, the author uses a form of wordplay which substitutes a word sounding similar to another word, for example “Meatless” instead of “Sleepless” or “Crust” instead of “Dust”. In some cases the words have similar sounds and in other cases the word rhymes. This type of wordplay is known as a double pun.
You can use this simple technique of twisting popular terms by substituting similar sounding words to create your own double puns. Use this form of wordplay to add humor to blog posts, ebooks, newsletters, email, video, presentations, or just about anywhere you want to lighten up your writing. Now go forth and have pun.