Cruel and Unusual Puns

Alright, fellow professors, do you have any favorite awful jokes that you inflict on your longsuffering students use to liven up lectures?

I definitely have a set of puns and bad jokes that I draw on. For instance, I tend to start my Perpetuities lecture by noting that “perpetuities are so annoying, there ought to be a rule against them.” (Rimshot.)

But my all-time favorite pun is one that I use at the end of the class on insider trading. After setting out the rule, talking about misappropriation, discussing tipper/tippee liability, running through cases and exercises, I finally note to the class,

“This can create some further complicated issues. For instance, if former VP Al Gore gave material non-public information to his former wife — then she would be both Tipper and tippee.”

Pause. Wait for them to catch it. (This takes slightly longer each year, as ten-year-old politicians fade from memory.) And then smile.

Yep. Definitely the best of the cruel and unusual puns.

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3 Responses

  1. T. Henderson says:

    Punning is hard. I like to tell my Property students that a variance is a “license to ill.” Most of them are too young to have been avid Beastie Boys fans, so it usually takes them a while to get the reference.

  2. Joe says:

    Is Prof. Jay Wexler around?

  3. AYY says:

    “Alright?” Uh, no such word, unless it’s supposed to be part of the joke.

    Personally I think profs would do better to practice eye fakes than attempt puns. When you start asking a question of the class,focus in one direction, as you get to the end of the question focus on one student as if you’re about to call on him, and then finish the question by pointing at the student and quickly turning to the other side of the room and calling on a student on that side of the room. This must be done in a deadpan manner.
    A variation is to keep pointing at the original student through the point at which you call on the other student, and when the person on the other side of the room answers, act as if you are surprised.

    The most important part is to slowly build the expectation and then maintain the deadpan at the end.