33 Comments

  1. The sax one kind of works, just about. Others I don’t even get. Is the Rostrum supposed to be a toilet? a well-known bar? I assume “sooner” and “oklahoma” have some connection but I don’t know what. I don’t know who Bo Jackson is, or whether indeed he is anyone in real life or in the cartoon backstory.

  2. @narmitaj: “rostrum” ~= “restroom”. I had to free-associate to get that.
    These are pretty grim.

  3. Yes, it’s one of those almost-opaque US state nicknames. Buckeyes = Ohio, Hoosiers = Indiana, Sooners = Oklahoma.

    BTW, before anyone objects that the saxophone is not an orchestral instrument, let it be noted, it certainly can be, and has been included in some notable compositions.

  4. The “sooner bassooner” rises maybe to the Oy level; the rest… well. “Phone sax” might have gone somewhere but the setup fails on symphonies not normally having saxes…

  5. I think Bo Jackson was some sort of sportsball guy from twenty or thirty years back, and he had a catch phrase that was “Bo knows ……” but I don’t recall what the third word was. (Possilby it was “Bo knows Bo.”) Yes, I could DuckDuckGo it, but that would suggest that I actually cared.

    I didn’t get the “rostrum” pun either until clued in here.

  6. FWIW, the third word changes, which is the gag, e.g., “Bo knows football” or “Bo knows baseball” or “Bo knows pizza.”

    If I recall (and I don’t, really) it stemmed from the fact that he played pro football AND pro baseball.

    I thought the phone sax was the best one, not just because I laughed (silently) but it’s pretty accessible. I didn’t know what a rostrum was but if I had I’d probably have chuckled.

    In Austin there’s a competitive punning event every year (yep, competitive punning is a thing) and a few of those folks would absolutely gobsmack you with their ability to make dozens of purely elegant puns on the spot.

    Phone sax isn’t beneath them, but it’d be the first one just to get it out of the way. The next one would probably be “excessive violins” in movies and tv.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    Tuba are better than one.
    Zamphir [sp?] had a blast at the flute- tenanny.
    Yoyo Ma brought a cello dessert to the potluck.

  7. And I will not be disagreeing with Dave In Boston over “symphonies not normally having saxes”. Though as my earlier comment says, they do from time to time need one; but it’s unlikely that they keep someone on staff.

  8. I lived in Oklahoma from 3rd-6th grade, so learned about the Oklahoma Land Rush (one of the later times the natives got done over).

  9. Percussin is … okay… but the the rest are way too strained with too little pay off. “Oboe Bo Jackson” is out and out still-born. Boa conductor is cute could stand alone but as a tile in a series is a C- at best. The Sooner Bassooner is a good one if you are stoned with some friends in your bedroom.

  10. Oh, also, the reason “rostrum” isn’t familiar is that the thing conductors stand on is normally called the “podium”. A rostrum is where a speaker speaks from. (And it means “beak” in Latin, owing apparently to the traditional decoration applied.)

  11. I will say that, speaking as a Sooner myself, I actually liked the rostrum pun the best. It had the right amount of “wait for it” to work for me.

  12. Actually, rostrum in the sense that led to it meaning a speaking platform refers to the prow of a ship, or more specifically to the ram (the pointy bit below the waterline for poking holes in enemy ships; you know, ramming speed and all that). When Rome conquered the city of Antium in 338 BCE, they confiscated the fleet and set up six prows in the forum as a trophy. They became a popular place to speak from, hence the modern meaning.

  13. Ah, I see with my “Rostrum supposed to be a toilet? a well-known bar?” comment I had half-hit on the answer without even realising it.

    “Robbery With Violins” is an instrumental track by UK folk-rock band Steeleye Span, big mostly in the 70s. That’s a nice pun.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgGlACS4yiY is them live in Switzerland in 1974. I feel sure I provided this link in a previous discussion, where the fact that the drummer is wearing Rupert the Bar (cartoon character) costume was somehow relevant.

  14. Bo Jackson was famous for playing both professional football and professional baseball. His shoe ads then had him doing random sports with the slogan “Bo knows [insert sport here].” The shoes were, of course, cross-trainers.

  15. My goodness, are there no sports fans in attendance here? I’m not a big sports fan, but even I know who Bo Jackson is, and that yes, he was notable for playing both professional baseball and professional football (not the only player to do so, but the only one to be named an All-Star in both major leagues). He even won the Heisman Trophy in college, so it’s not like he’s notable only for the novelty of playing two sports.

    As for “rostrum”, how does it differ from a “lectern”?

  16. Of course the whole “Bo knows” commercials were a play on the name of another famous Bo, musician Bo Diddly, because “Diddly” means “squat”, “nothin'”, “zip”, “nada”, and “Bo” rhymes with “know”, so somehow Bo don’t know Diddly., but this Bo does know, lots of things.

  17. The best part of the “Bo Knows” commercials was Wayne Gretzky skating up to the camera and, after a beat, just saying “no…”

  18. I liked the Sooner bassooner one for the rhyme, and for how they raced to say it. (How many didn’t notice that?)

  19. Alternate Yo-Yo Ma joke: The stage was crowded but when the conductor saw Yo-Yo Ma he invited him to sit in. “There’s always room for cello,” said the conductor. (Way back when I was a music student at Boston University, composer Norman Dello Joio was appointed head of the Music Department. “There’s always room for Dello Joio” said someone.)

  20. “Let me know when they do the sex and violence / sax and violins joke.”

    You can let me sleep in when they do.

    But wake me for the “bad conductor” joke whichever version …. (I rather like the one with the streetcar and request of bananas for a last meal… but all versions are good.)

  21. Mark In Boston, way back when, classical music radio station WFMT used to do “marathons” soliciting phoned-in pledges to raise funds — for themselves or for area organizations, even as big as CSO.

    One year among interest-raising gimmicks they asked callers to declare their preferences for cats or dogs, and to say if they had a pet with music-related names. At the end, the cats team won; and the winning individual name was Vincent Pussycatty.

  22. Let me know when they do the sex and violence / sax and violins joke.

    I know, right? I think of that as the saxophone ur-pun, and have been waiting for it too!

  23. My goodness, are there no sports fans in attendance here?

    Well, by the time I read it, others had explained the comci. I didn’t see much reason to repeat what had been said.

  24. Once during a Beethoven performance the bass players started tippling from a flask. By the bottom of the Ninth, the basses were loaded…

  25. “Once during a Beethoven performance the bass players started tippling from a flask. By the bottom of the Ninth, the basses were loaded…”

    I recently had a discussion with someone who thought as it was about getting drunk it really ought to be Beethoven’s Fifth. I explained that although that is an irresistible pun, it wouldn’t fit into any baseball scenario. She confessed she hadn’t made the association with baseball at all…

    ….which led to the question if the joke weren’t about baseball where is the joke in a bunch of musicians gettting drunk while performing a piece by Beethoven.

    She just admitted she assumed the Beethoven’s fifth was so obvious that it never occurred to her omitting it would result in there being no joke at all.

    She admitted a joke about a Mozart performance where “it was the end of the Jupiter Symphony and the cellists were plastered” wouldn’t have seemed like a joke…. yet oddly at a Beethoven performance “it was the end of the ‘Ode to Joy’ and the bass players were wasted” was to her mind……(because Beethoven=fifth=booze)

    Humor is a weird thing…

  26. The Beethoven’s Ninth performance was outside. It was a windy day so the conductor had to tie the score down onto the music stand. One of the basses was so drunk he passed out. So it was the last of the Ninth, the score was tied and the basses were loaded with one out. Or at least that’s how I heard it.

    As for punny animal names, I had a dog named Furry Lisa, after Beethoven’s “Für Elise.”

    I like pet names that have a musical connection. Furry Lisa’s father was a Newfoundland named Robber after a dog owned by Richard Wagner.

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