#sblaar Punny Papers

The day before yesterday I was involved in a session put together by the SBL student organization, on how to prepare for and effectively deliver a good conference presentation.

Since an earlier panelist had rightly pointed out that an abstract is no place for jokes, and given my appreciation for the humorous, I thought that I would comment on appropriate humor for conference papers themselves, including their titles.

If a joke naturally flows from the topic, it can be enjoyable. But it shouldn't be forced, and making a joke just for the sake of it may not be appropriate.

I offered the puns from the paper on TRON which I previously blogged about as an example of humor which worked because they naturally connected with the theme.

As an example of what not to do I came up with the following title: “Aliens in the New Testament: In Luke-Acts, No One Can Hear You Scream.”

Unfortunately for my point, that got quite an outburst of laughter.

What titles have you heard that were trying to be funny, and perhaps trying too hard? What examples of funny titles of talks, conference papers or articles have you heard that really worked?


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  • Jeff Carter

    I had a sermon on Matthew 23: 5 that I nearly titled “You Know What they Say About the Size of a Man’s Phylactery…” but I lost my nerve/came to my senses and didn’t.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/ James F. McGrath

      it is probably just as well that you didn’t use that for the sermon title – but I am so glad you shared the idea here! :-)

  • george

    I’d be happier with a few more jokes in the actual presentation than in the title.