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A short-Short Story (300 words on the average, although 500-word examples exist), ending in a pun or a punchline that is pretty obviously the only reason for the story's existence. The telling detail in a Feghoot is the groan emitted by the reader/listener when he hits the punchline. In essence, an Overly Pre-Prepared Gag in short story form.
Named for the character Ferdinand Feghoot, created by Science Fiction author Reginald Bretnor using the pen name Grendel Briarton. Bretnor chronicled Feghoot's adventures in the multi-year series "Through Time and Space with Ferdinand Feghoot!", in which each installment was a short-short that ended in a horrific pun.
Compare with Shaggy Dog Story.
- Isaac Asimov wrote several stories that were more or less excuses for ending with tortured puns:
- "Shah Guido G" is particularly notorious, although arguably the title gives fair warning.
- Death Of A Foy has a punchline rather heavily reliant on knowing the chorus to "Give My Regards To Broadway". It goes Give my big hearts to Maude, Dwayne. Dismember me for Harold's choir. Tell all the Foys on Sortibackenstrete that I will soon be there.
- "A Loint of Paw" concerns a man who, after stealing several hundred thousand dollars, used a time machine to travel to the day after the statute of limitations expired. After the prosecutor and defense attorney finish arguing, the judge renders his decision: "A niche in time saves Stein."
- "Sure Thing" is about a race between alien pets, with the punch line being "Sloane's Teddy wins the race."
- "Dreamworld" is about a boy who reads a lot of science fiction and keeps telling his uninterested Aunt Clara about the crazy science-fiction inspired dreams he keeps having. His aunt keeps telling him that he has to face reality, or else, one day, he'll be stuck in one of his dreams and unable to wake up. The next time he goes to sleep, he has a dream in which hundreds of giant-sized duplicates of his Aunt Clara are all chasing him and demanding that he face reality. He desperately hopes that he'll be able to wake up from this dream, or else he'll have suffered the worst science-fictional doom of all: being trapped in a world of giant aunts.
- Arthur C. Clarke wrote the two pager Neutron Tide about a spaceship passing too close to a neutron star and being ripped apart by the huge tidal forces in order to facilitate a pun about the single piece from the astronaut's toolkit that was found in the wreckage. It was a "Star-mangled spanner."
- Spider Robinson wrote a collection of short stories that started with Callahans Crosstime Saloon, all taking place in the eponymous Weirdness Magnet Inn Between the Worlds. Slightly difference from the normal format, the stories were weird little philosophical pieces with puns in several places.
- One of the things they do there is have Tall Tales Night to see who can tell the most outrageous shaggy dog story with the worst pun-filled punchline.
- Gravity's Rainbow is a long story but it would have digressions within it to go off on long tangents crossing half a dozen pages about something like the fur trade just so that it could abruptly end in a pun. For instance on page 563, there's a pun on the song "Forty Million Frenchmen can't be wrong". For De Mille, young fur–henchmen can’t be rowing.
- The Dragaera book Athyra has an extended digression about the difference between the kind of flax used to make salad and the kind of flax used to make linen, all so Brust can sneak in the line, "The true, true salad flax would melt..."
- "The Casque of Lamont T. Yado" by Victor Milan is a short story rather transparently based on Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado", which you'll recall ends with the words "For the love of God, Montresor!". The hero blames the villain for the death of his shipmates, but has agreed to help him steal the eponymous casque - an alien time-controlling helmet. The villain, incidentally, is a "tracer" who can teleport by tracing lines of force, and attributes his powers to "Tracergod". He also affects a Jamaican accent and says things like "mon" instead of "man". After they have succeeded in teleporting the casque out of its secure location the villain puts it on, believing that it will give him superhuman speed. Instead, he finds himself inexorably slowing down - the hero has reprogrammed the helmet to freeze the villain like a statue for eternity. The very last thing the villain is able to say before his speech grinds to a halt is "For the love of Tracergod, mon!"
- Roger Zelazny liked to sneak these into his works. For example, the entire second chapter of his Hugo-winning novel, Lord of Light is an elaborate setup allowing him to finish with the final line "Then the fit hit the Shan."
- Unwind has an in-universe example, an urban legend about a boy whose surname was Dunfee, and whose first name began with an H, but who will always be known as Humphrey. His father was one of the strongest advocates of the policy of using Delinquents for organ transplants, so when he started to misbehave in school, his father was pressured into having him "unwound." Mr. Dunfee eventually snapped, and started hunting down and reclaiming all the donated organs--but "all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humphrey back together again." (It later turns out that this story isn't wholly inaccurate, and the story ends with a reunion of all the people who received the boy's organs.
- In Red Dwarf, Lister tells one to Rimmer:
Lister:My mate Petersen once brought a pair of shoes with artificial intelligence. Smart Shoes, they were called. It was a neat idea. No matter how blind drunk you were, they would always get you home. Then he got ratted one night in Oslo, and woke up the next morning in Burma. See, the shoes got bored just going from his local to the flat. They wanted to see the world, man, y'know? He had a helluva job getting rid of them. No matter who he sold them to, they'd show up again the next day! He tried to shut them out, but they just kicked the door down, y'know?
Rimmer: Is this true?
Lister: Yeah! Last thing he heard, they'd sort of, erm, robbed a car and drove it into a canal. They couldn't steer, y'see.
Lister:: Yeah. Petersen was really, really blown away by it. He went to see a priest. The priest told him, he said, it was alright, and all that, and the shoes were happy, and they'd gone to heaven. Y'see, it turns out shoes have soles.
- In Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Colin usually starts off games of Weird Newscasters with one of these.
Colin: Convicted hit man Jimmy Two-Shoes Mcclarty confessed today that he was once hired to beat a cow to death in a rice field using only two small porcelain figures. Police admit that this is may be the first known case of a knick knack paddy whack.
- This is one of the best:
Colin: Famous playboy Hugh Hefner managed to successfully stop an order of monks from operating a business on his property. The police forced the friars to close down their stall, which was outside the Playboy Mansion, where they had been selling flowers. Said one friar, "Well, if it was anyone else we might have gotten away from it, but unfortunately, only Hugh can prevent florist friars.
- In one particular game of Greatest Hits, Colin mocked Ryan's Pun segues by coming up with a few of his own, ending with:
Colin: When I was a jockey [Ryan scoffs] No, I was, just for a little while. In my bed - well, it was more of a cot - we had this sort of sanitary paper for the fillies. Wait a minute... bed cot filly papers? Red Hot Chili Peppers!
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 had a sketch called "A Joke by Ingmar Bergman". Servo and Crow walk along a pier, counting the slits between the wooden boards, until they reach the end and Servo falls in.
Crow: And so you see, when you're out of slits, you're out of pier.
- Amazing Stories had a regular contribution called "Through Time and Space with Benedict Breadfruit" by Grandall Barretton (a pseudonym for Randall Garrett) which were all Feghoots that used the names of other well known science fiction writers.
- A later Briarton story had somebody ask Feghoot if Breadfruit could be trusted. "Absolutely," replied Feghoot. "He was conceived in our Garrett."
- Pearls Before Swine has countless examples, mostly written by Rat to set up the strip's trademark Incredibly Lame Puns.
- And they're almost always followed with some kind of Self-Deprecation involving Rat belittling the author for bothering to make such a pun.
- This Dilbert strip.
- These two Get Fuzzy strips.
- This FoxTrot strip. It's worth mentioning that all the non-PBS examples were either a Shout-Out to Pearls' use of this or had the similarity to Pearls pointed out in at least one comment.
- Right Between The Ears has a recurring sketch called "The Casebook Of Mobile Holmes", which is basically a setup of bad puns done in Sherlock Holmes style. This pretty ends up with a Feghoot like this:
- Mobile wanted the rest of the gang to take a plumbing course in Egypt: "Yes, we'll all be pharoah faucet majors."
- Or in a case about a general who was looking for his brother's ziggaurat but died because it was on fire: " The searching general has proven that smoking ziggurats can be hazardous to your health."
- Xkcd showed us you can do it in a math paper.
- After a long list of predictions for the years up to 2101, the prediction for 2101 is...War was beginning.
- Irregular Webcomic does this once every 100 strips with Lambert the Hobbit's stories about his uncle Bilbert.
- Narbonic gives us this one, complete with a self-deprecating lesson about the dangers irresponsible punning along the side of the main text.
- Buttersafe gave us the story of how a certain bird found its place in the world.
- Entries in the "Vile Puns" category of the yearly Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest tend to consist mostly of these. The page quote for Just for Pun is a subversion.
- Yahtzee has admitted to doing this with a few Zero Punctuation episodes:
- From Red Faction: Guerrilla: "...which is less guerrilla and more chimpanzee! (spent years working on that last pun)"
- From Mass Effect and the controversial sex scene: "...it's hardly going to make your mass erect. (yes, the whole review was leading up to that terrible pun in the end)"
- 365 Tomorrows's flash story: HollowPlanet.
- David Wong's essay on the Monkeysphere has one involving Charles Darwin.
- Mister Peabody in the Peabody's Improbable History sketches from Rocky and Bullwinkle would end on him making a summation of the historical goings on in a Pun.
Jr.: Dad, I think the lesson was "A chain is only as strong as its weakest mink!"
Aesop: Takes after his mother, that boy does.
- Deekin tells one in Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide during a break in the action. It is a story of a cruel monarch's interrogator whose favorite method of torture is to chop the fingers off of a prisoner with a hatchet one by one until he confesses. The monarch captures a count who was accused of plotting rebellion against him and takes him down to the dungeon where the interrogator cuts off first his fingers, then his toes. The count remains silent. The monarch is so impressed that he orders the interrogator to give him a quick death, but as the hatchet swings for his neck the count finally cracks. By then it is too late and his head is severed from his body. The moral of the story: Never hatchet counts before they chicken!
- There is a joke, sometimes referred to as the longest joke in the world, that is not recognisable in any way as being a joke until the last line. It concerns a man who is lost in the desert and finds a snake guarding a lever. The snake, who is named Nate, acts as a Genie in a Bottle, granting the man life saving wishes in return for making his life as the guardian of this lever (which he is informed will destroy the world if pulled) more bearable. The man becomes truly friendly with this snake and his last task for him is the task of taking Nate the snake's offspring, who will replace him as lever guardian when Nate dies, on a world wide tour so that his son can experience all the world before being stuck by the lever for the rest of his life. The man complies and after seeing all the sights of the world that the son would ask he takes him back to his desert home, returning him in his jeep to the lever to say goodbye to his father before his death. Unfortunately, the jeep brakes fail while they are on a dune and they lose traction on the sand. The minimal maneuverability forces them into a choice as to whether run over the dying old snake, friend and father to them, or plough into the world-ending device. The man realises there is only one option: Better Nate Than Lever.
- Patrick Whack, a bank teller, was at his window one day when to his surprise up walks a frog asking for a loan. "How much do you need?", he asks, once he's got over the shock of a talking frog. "£500,000" says the frog. "That's a lot of money... what kind of collateral can you put up?" Without another word the frog takes a small ceramic white elephant out of his pocket and slides it across. "Look, if you're not going to take this seriously, Mr, uh..?" "Jagger. Kermit Jagger. I know the manager, and if you talk to him I'm sure he can sort this out." So Patrick goes into the back room and finds the bank manager. "You won't believe this. There's a frog at my window, says his name is Kermit Jagger, and he wants to borrow 500k against this.... thing! I mean, what the hell is that, anyway?" The manager takes a look, sighs, and says, "It's a knick-knack, Paddy Whack. Give the frog a loan. His old man's a Rolling Stone!"
- The story of a man on a quest for the best cup of tea in the world. His travels take him worldwide -- little inns in England and Ireland, tea stands in tea-producing regions like India or China -- but while he finds several high points on the way, something spurs him to keep looking. Over time, he keeps on hearing about the tea at this little town named "Mercy" in the Australian Outback, and one day he finally gets to go there and try a cup. It's exactly as good as advertised, and he spends an hour savoring it -- but then as he is sipping the last drop, he is thrown by the sight of hairs lacing the bottom of his cup. He complains to the waitress, who hems and haws a bit -- and then admits that the hairs are supposed to be there; they are hairs from the inn's pet koala. It seems a few years back, some of his hair got into the tea, and it gave their tea a certain something -- so it became a regular feature of the brew. And surely it was worth it, wasn't it? The man grudgingly agrees, but then says how disconcerting the sight of hair in the cup can be -- so why don't they strain the hair out before serving? The waitress indignantly replies: "Sir, the koala tea of Mercy is NOT strained!"
- Larry Lobster and Sam Clam where best friends. They did everything together. The only difference between them is that Larry was the nicest Lobster ever, and Sam, well, let's just say he was not so good. Larry and Sam did so much together that they even died together. Larry went to heaven and Sam went to hell. Larry was doing well in heaven, and one day St. Peter came up to him and said, "Larry, you know, you are the nicest lobster we ever had up here. Everyone likes you, but you seem to be a bit depressed. Tell me what is bothering you, maybe I can help." Larry said, "Well, don't get me wrong Pete, I like it up here and everything, but I really miss my good friend Sam Clam. We used to do everything together and I really miss him a lot." St. Peter looked at Larry with pity and said to him, "I tell you what, I can arrange it so that you can go down to hell tomorrow and visit Sam all day. How would that sound?" This made Larry very happy. He got up bright and early the next morning and grabbed his wings, his harp, and his halo and got in the elevator to hell. When the doors opened he was met by Sam. The hugged each other, and they were off. You see in Hell, Sam owned a disco. The spent the day there together and had a great time. At the end of the day, Larry and Sam went back to the elevator together, said their goodbyes, and Larry got back in the elevator and went up to heaven. He stepped off the elevator and was greeted by St. Peter, who blocked the doorway to heaven. He looked at Larry and said, "Larry Lobster, didn't you forget something?" Larry looked around and said, "No, I don't think so. I have my halo and my wings." St. Peter looked at him and said, "Yes, but what about your harp?" Larry gasped and said, "Oh no! I left my harp in Sam Clam's Disco!"
- This is one of the shorter versions of this joke.
- Three knights went to an island to battle for the prize of a kingdom and the fair princess's hand. Sir Able and his twelve squires set up their elaborate camp at the west point of the island. Sir Bob with his eighteen squires set up his camp on the north end of the island. Sir Charles arrived at the east point with his one lone squire, erected their tent, started the fire, and hung the stew-pot in a noose high above the fire.
- The following day, the knights relaxed while the squires did battle amongst themselves. Ultimately, Sir Charles's squire was the only one left standing, thereby proving that the squire of the high-pot-and-noose is equal to the sum of the squires of the other two sides.
- The Tarzan joke, which consists of a man going into Darkest Africa to talk to Tarzan to find animals for his zoo. Tarzan is always painting stripes on a zebra (color unknown) and there is always an extended travelogue. Finally, the man goes to talk to Tarzan and asks him why he's always painting stripes on a zebra. 'cause Tarzan stripes forever!
- An outdoor stadium hosted an orchestra one evening, for a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. However, strong winds hit the stage during the first half of the performance, causing sheet music to be blown off the stands. During the intermission, the conductor advised the orchestra members to tie down their sheet music so they wouldn't have this problem during the second half. Meanwhile, the tuba players, bass fiddles and bassoonists took advantage of the break to share a dram of whiskey, to ward off the sharp winds. By the time the conductor returned to the podium, it was the second half of the ninth, the score was tied and the basses were loaded.
- As a young boy, Joe was completely obsessed with tractors. He had pictures of tractors all over his bedroom walls; he had tractor toys, tractor T-shirts, a tractor carpet, and duvet cover, the whole works. He ate, drank and slept tractors. On his 17th birthday he was thrilled to get an invitation to go to a tractor factory nearby and test-drive a brand new tractor. His excitement was incredible as he told his family and friends. The great day came and he went to the factory for the test-drive. Unfortunately something went terribly wrong with the tractor when Joe was driving it and it flipped over, trapping and breaking Joe's leg and fracturing his skull. He was so upset and tried to sue the tractor company for negligence. But the company would have none of it and told him there was no liability and he could get lost! You can imagine he was very annoyed with tractors after this and vowed to shed them from his life completely and forever. All the posters came down, the toys were given away - tractors were GONE. Many years later, Joe went into a bar for a drink. Inside, the cigarette and cigar smoke was terrible but through it he saw a beautiful girl seated at the bar on her own. Tears were streaming down her face. Joe asked her what was wrong and she said that the smoke was making her eyes sting and stream with tears. With that, Joe looked around and then took a huge breath, sucking in all the smoke. He then walked outside into the car park and blew all the smoke out again. He goes back into the bar where the air is now clear and sweet and sits down next to the girl. "That was amazing!" she said, "How did you do that?" "No problem", said Joe. "I'm an ex-tractor fan"
- Once there was a marine biologist, named Dr. Panglos, who loved dolphins. (When I say he loved dolphins though, I’m not talking about in any kind of “sick” way; he just loved to study them). He spent his time trying to feed and protect his beloved creatures of the sea. One day, in a fit of inventive genius, he came up with a serum that would make dolphins live forever! Of course he was ecstatic. But he soon realised that, in order to mass produce this serum, he would need large amounts of a certain compound that was only found in nature in the metabolism of a rare South American myna bird. Carried away by his love for dolphins, however, he decided that he would go to the zoo and steal one of these birds. As he was arriving at the zoo an elderly lion was escaping from its cage. The Lion’s name was Leo, which wasn’t too original of a name for a lion if you ask me, but it’s probably not important to the story. Anyway, the zoo keepers were alarmed and immediately began combing the zoo for the escaped animal, unaware that it had simply lain down on the sidewalk and had gone to sleep since it was the Lion’s regular naptime anyway. Meanwhile, the marine biologist arrived at the zoo and stole his bird. He was so excited by the prospect of helping his dolphins that he stepped absent mindedly over the sleeping lion on his way back to his car. Immediately, 15 policemen converged on him and arrested him for the crime of transporting a myna across a staid lion for immortal porpoises.
- A popular campfire tale tells (in much more creepy and frightening detail than is given here) of three or four men -always described as "friends of a friend"- who plan to spend a week on a hunting trip in a remote lodge somewhere in the forests of North America (the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is one common choice). The first night, a terrible snowstorm sets upon them, and the wind howls and the house shakes. One by one, each of the men vanish from the house mysteriously, and those remaining cannot search for them (it being too dangerous to go out into the storm), until eventually, one one man remains. As he walks through the silent, empty lodge, he sees, coming up the stairs toward him, a black coffin, standing upright and floating several feet above the ground. A glowing red skull sits in the middle of the coffin, and it slowly but steadily makes its way toward the last remaining hunter. After long description of all of his many failed attempts to shake the coffin, the man is forced to hide in the bathroom and lock the door, but the coffin passes right through the door like a ghost. Finally, in desperation, the man grabs the only thing available to him- a bag of cherry Robitussin- and throws it at the coffin. The teller of the tale then delivers the climactic line: "It stopped the coffin".
- Professor Kellerman was a world famous geneticist who had devoted his life to discovering how to clone mammals. After many years of painstaking work, he finally worked out how to do it. Unfortunately Kellerman was unable to get permission from the ethics comittee for animal tests so he decided to test his method in secret, using himself as the test subject. He took a bone marrow sample and some stem cells from himself and began his work. After several weeks the clone was ready to be unveiled to the world. Holding his breath in suspense, Kellerman drained the incubation tank and the clone came into view. Professor Kellerman was delighted to find the copy Kellerman was not only mentally developed but a perfect match for the real Kellerman, except for one detail: the clone was extremely well-endowed. Well, the clone was equally delighted and immediately ran upstairs, to the roof of the ten storey biology building and started displaying his splendour to the world. The real Kellerman was aghast. Everyone would think it was him! So he confronted the clone, intening to tackle him to the ground. Unfortunately, in the struggle, the clone fell from the roof and was killed. Shortly afterward the police came to arrest him. Kellerman blustered and demanded to know why. The cops replied "because you have made an obscene clone fall".
- Dr. Beraid was a biologist whose major concern was ending world hunger. His major breakthrough was the creation of a truly massive pig, several tons in size. However, working with the pig was extremely difficult - it had hideous breath, such that it was impossible to enter the test chamber without external breathing apparatus. Therefore, he took to feeding it over a hundred Cloret breath mints each day, which reduced the stench to tolerable levels. To assist him in his work, Dr. Beraid had created multiple clone gorillas, whose strength and stamia made manipulating the pig easier; however, their lack of manual dexterity often frustrated him. One day, as one of the gorillas was feeding the mints to the pig, it spilled them. Dr. Beraid snapped, seized his walking stick, and began to beat the clone, at which point the others turned against him. The police report read as follows: Seventy-six strong clones fed the pig Beraid, with a hundred-and-ten Clorets close at hand...