The May 2015 38th Annual O.Henry Pun-Off World Championships is now history! Multi-medalist Benjamin Ziek of Glendale, California once again clawed his way to the top of the heap with another rare "two-fer” triumph in Puniest of Show and PunSlingers.
Rare for others maybe, but not for Ben, as this is his third repeat of double-win trophies, an unprecedented feat never before accomplished by any puntestant. After having blown it last year, the win shifted back in his direction in 2015 and with great gusto, he fought to the twister end. Debris was the only thing laughed on stage as the final gong sounded and his win swept the field.
Punniest of Show
In Punniest of Show, the panel of six expert judges awarded Ziek a perfect score of 40 out of a possible 40 points for his punning recollection of whiskey behavior and an alcoholic encounter that went horribly a-rye. Watch it on YouTube.
Second place went to Southpaw Jones of Austin, Texas for a very popular musical medley featuring a panoply of rapid-fire puns on grammatical and editorial references. Gy Odom, also of Austin, collected 38 points to claim 3rd place for his cautionary story on the perils of mixing sports with romance. Honorable mention went to Matt Tobin from New York City who also scored 38 points, but was lemonaded with an audience tie-breaker. All the Punniest of Show puntestant performances may be viewed now on Brian Comb's YouTube channel.
Punniest of Show Winners: Ben Ziek, Southpaw Jones, and Gy Odem. Emcees: Guy Ben-Moshe (far left) and Gary Hallock (far right.) Photo by Susanne McBride.
Below is Brian Comb's video of Ben Ziek's winning Punniest of Show entry.
As bracket after bracket of the PunSlingers competition broke, the final heats featured some new topic prompts. In the semi-final round, the topic “Coverings & Coatings” gave a puntastic workout to Ben Ziek who floored New York's Brian Agler. Also in the semi-final round, Austin’s defending champ Matt Pollock took on New York’s Jerzy Gwiazdowski on the traditional topic of “Country Music,” which resulted in Pollock being cleft a measure too late.
In the final round, the champion punslingers Jerzy Gwiazdowski and Ben Ziek shot it out on the topic “Numerical References” which lead to a 43-minute pun battle testing not only the wits of the contestants but the patience of the audience. When the pun smoke cleared, Ziek was still standing as winner, leaving Gwiazdowski with 2nd place silver. The 3rd place honors were shared by Matt Pollock and Brian Agler.
2015 PunSlinger Winners: Matt Pollock, Brian Agler, Jerzy Gwiazdowski, Ben Ziek. Emcees (far left): Steve Brooks, Gary Hallock. Photo by Clay Leben.