Distant punning

Yesterday’s Get Frazzy:

Hat tip from Alon Lischinsky, who found that the main pun, in the final panel, really worked only in writing: for him, “Ishmael can only be /ˈɪʃ.meɪ.əl/ or /ˈɪʃ.meɪl/, while fishmeal has /iː/ and secondary stress on the last syllable”. For me, too, but I am also a fan of distant imperfect puns, which can be set up through context.

In this case, the main pun is set up by the secondary pun right before it: Moby Duck, establishing a reference to Melville’s Moby-Dick. Otherwise, even “Call me Ishmael” would be baffling, and “Call me Fishmeal” totally incomprehensible.

The initial preposterous business, with cookbooks having their ingredients packaged inside the book, is there to set us up for both duck and fishmeal.

I admire its presumption.

3 Responses to “Distant punning”

  1. Greg Morrow Says:

    No remark about “more less not crazy”? It almost has a meaning for me but not quite.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      I took that to be a speech error from Bucky — for “even more, not less, crazy”. But I haven’t looked into Bucky’s speech.

      • Greg Morrow Says:

        I don’t think it’s a production error, I think it’s meant to show that Bucky doesn’t exactly use Standard English. The meaning I get is something like being used to intensify , and being inserted so that intensifies . That is, Bucky’s idea is not crazy, and since it’s further into the future than he thinks, his idea is even less not-crazy, and in fact it’s so much even less not-crazy that it’s even more less not crazy. But English doesn’t permit more as an intensifying infix — which leads to the question, would “even fucking less X” be allowed?

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