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Gary's Adventure in Punderland

Ahead of his latest Champipunship on 11th July at 02 ABC, Lorna Irvine asks theatre maker, writer and actor Gary McNair to let us into his Punderland.

How did the initial idea come about?

Last year when fundraising to take Donald Robertson is Not a Standup Comedian to the Fringe. Raising money for the Fringe can be a big task and I feel quite often that you are asking the same people that would be coming along to the show to add to your fundraiser. So, I thought 'I know: rather than just ask for money from people, I'll put on a brilliant event that people will want to come to, thus raising money by proxy--we'll put the fun in fundraiser. Better still, we'll put the pun in fundraiser.’ And although the money this year will go toward supporting my new show A Gambler's Guide To Dying, (on at the Traverse from August 6th-31st) we would have held the event regardless.

How can people get involved?

If anyone is out there that wants to put their wits to the test then drop me an email on or tweet me on @thegarymcnair, but spaces are filling up so the best way to get involved might be to come and be in the audience where I guarantee you there are plenty of ways to get involved in the fun.

Do you actively encourage heckling?

We do. But there are allocated times for it. When I'm doing my sections you can give me hell, but when the competitors are in play it's our only house rule that we bite our tongue until they player has answered--then we open the floor for the best answers from the audience--this way we get the best out of our competitors and then the best out of our audience. So, even if you're only in the crowd, there will be chances for people to find out how hilarious you are. There is also bunting that you can turn into Pun-ting, the best of which will be read out and earn a prize.

What are the main challenges involved in staging a Champipunship?

Strangely, the main challenge is finding women that are happy to perform, which I find perplexing because in general terms I find women funnier than men in everyday life. We only had one female competitor last year, and she won over the seven men. So, that begs the question: why are they not coming forward when men are coming forward in strong numbers. I think that it perhaps reflects a more institutional sexism that exists in comedy that prevents women from feeling like they have access to the stage. I hope that we can get past that so if any women reading this fancy competing, please get in touch.

Do the best puns always come with a groan, or do you prefer epigrammatic wordplay, like Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker, for example?

The best puns get a groan or a genuine laugh, and these are the two ways in which competitors can score points through the evening. We believe that the best puns, no matter how smart or daft are the puns that illicit a big response from people, the ones that make you go "why didn't I think that" be that positive or negative. It is often the worst of all the groaners that people remember.

What is your favourite all-time pun?

I love the beautiful simplicity of 'camping--it's intense.' It makes me chuckle every time. My favourite pun that I have created myself is 'I was never a fan of pubic hair, but then it grew on me.'

I love any pun that catches me off guard, really. I think, what it is that I love about the pun is that it makes you stop and think twice about something and possibly see that thing in a new and humorous light. This is how I like to go through my life.

A Gambler's Guide To Dying will run at The Traverse from August 6th-31st.

For tickets book here


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