Puns

From This Might Be A Wiki

They Might Be Giants songs featuring puns and double entendre (not to be confused with other general wordplay). Because many of these are based on perception, this list may be less objective than standard wiki pages. One would do well to bear this in mind while reading and editing.

  • Bills, Bills, Bills - "Can you pay my automo' bills?"
  • Cage & Aquarium - A pun of "Age of Aquarius", the song from Hair
  • Chopping Block Testimonial - In the line "e-solutions to e-verybody" "everybody" is pronounced with the long e, as an abbreviation for "electronic" (cf. e-mail).
  • Circular Karate Chop - "Man, this world is sick" seems to play on a double-meaning of "sick". John Flansburgh's enthusiasm suggests the colloquial adjective synonymous with "cool", "radical", etc. However, the content of the lyrics would indicate the narrator's jaded view of the world as sick in a more traditional sense, i.e. something distasteful or unpleasant.
  • Cowtown - "The Yellow Roosevelt / Avenue leaf overturned", a multi-layered pun of "The Yellow Rose of Texas", Roosevelt Avenue in Queens, and the expression "a new leaf overturned"
  • Dr. Sy Fly - The title character's name being a play on Sci-Fi, a shorthand name for Science fiction.
  • Everything Right Is Wrong Again - "Weasel overcome", a pun of "We Shall Overcome"
  • Fake Out In Buenos Aires - "Fake your claim" (stake your claim), among many others
  • Hey, Mr. DJ, I Thought You Said We Had A Deal - "I could never sleep my way to the top / 'Cause my alarm clock always wakes me right up" contrasts "sleep" in the literal sense and in the more carnal sense. Additionally, "You scratch my back and I'll scratch your record" examines two contexts for "scratch", both proverbial massages and record-spinning.
  • Hide Away Folk Family - "Sadly the cross-eyed bear" ("Gladly the cross I'd bear")
  • Hovering Sombrero - "Time is flying like an arrow"
  • How Now Dark Cloud? - "I have been poisoned by lead / And from this one pencil it's spread" This refers to both lead as in the poisonous element, and pencil lead (which is actually graphite).
  • I Hope That I Get Old Before I Die - "Clear off the kitchen table darling / For on the kitchen table I must lie / I'm just tired for my wife / Served the banquet of my life" - The expression "banquet of my life" could refer to either a highly memorable meal, or the narrator himself being consumed.
  • I Need Some Lovin' - "With a sign that reads 'nobody rides for free'"
  • It's Not My Birthday - "So I'm rattling the bars around this drink tank ... But there'd be no percentage and there'd be no proof" contains two alcohol-related puns:
  • "Bars" refers to both prison bars in a drunk tank, and also to establishments where one might purchase alcohol.
  • "Proof" refers to both evidence and the measure of alcohol strength.
  • It Was A Very Good Year - "When i was the square root of a negative number"; with "i" the narrator refers to both himself and the mathematical representation for the square root of a negative number
  • I've Got A Match - "I've got a match: your embrace and my collapse" (a pun of "I've got a match: your face and my ass")
  • Jackie The Clipper - The character's name is a pun on Jack the Ripper
  • Marty Beller Mask - "Marty gets the mansion / And I get his skins" plays on the slang term "skins" for drums.
  • Moles, Hounds, Bears, Bees And Hares - "Though it sounds phony / Rabbits were coney / Out on this island right hare" contains several puns: the older term for a rabbit called a "coney"; a reference to Coney Island (which may have been named for its once-large rabbit population); and of course, "right hare" instead of "right here"
  • Mr. Me - "Onward go and Edward ho" ("Westward ho")
  • Mrs. Train - "But I'm not in any rush to head the line, and so the line has a missing head / And I don't want to be first in line to see the missing head" (Missing a head of the line vs. an actual head missing)
  • Oh You Did - "Why won't you take directions / Or listen to instrections?", "Like the Pyramids of Gizza / Or the Leaning Tower of Pizza", "Did you just eat a napkin / To find out what would hap-kin?"
  • Olive, The Other Reindeer - The title and focus of the Olive, the Other Reindeer children's book, is a pun on the "all of the other reindeer" line from "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"
  • Pandor Jingle - Plays on the name of the Pandor Production company
  • Purple Toupee - "Somebody put their fingers in the president's ear / And it wasn't too much later they came out with Johnson's wax" (Lyndon Johnson vs. Johnson Wax)
  • Push Back The Hands - "Dawn breaks like a fallen vase"
  • Rhythm Section Want Ad - "There's a place for those who love their poetry / It's just across from the sign that says 'Pros only'" ("Pros" vs. "prose", plus the more subtle contrast between pros and people who love things, a.k.a. "amateurs")
  • Sally Boy Candy Bar - "And it's driving me out of my car" plays on two meanings of the verb "drive": forcing or compelling, and operating a motorized vehicle
  • Scott Bower - "All hands on deck / It's my turn to deal" refers to "hand" in the context of a deckhand (AKA able seaman) and then a hand of playing cards.
  • Sensurround - "I still don't know who conceived it / Or where they got the idea" plays on the double meaning of "to conceive" as both to become pregnant with and also to form an idea.
  • S-E-X-X-Y - "Y / Because it's extra, baby" seems to refer to both the XY sex-determination system and the interrogative of reason ("why")
  • Snowball In Hell - "Money I owe / Money I-ay" is presumably a pun of "Yippee ki yo, yippee ki yay"
  • So Crazy For Books - "Then I go back to my house / Check out the books I just checked out"
  • Spoiler Alert - "Spoiler" in the title is probably a reference to both the end of the story that the John Linnell narrator is writing, and the spoilers that might be found on the John Flansburgh narrator's truck.
  • Unpronounceable - "Now I spend / My days and nights / Looking at / A depression on the sofa / And over time it flattens out / But I am still depressed" plays on two different meanings of "depression".
  • Unsupervised, I Hit My Head - "You could count on me with just one hand"
  • Utah - "I forget you / I forget Utah" compares the second person pronoun to the first syllable of "Utah".
  • Violin - "One quarter of George Washington's head"
  • Weep Day - "Samba time for Tambo and weep day for Urine Man"; "tambo" and "urine man" make a textual pun of "tambourine man," as in the Bob Dylan song.
  • Welcome To The Jungle - "Welcome to the jungle, Jim" ("Jim" vs. "gym")
  • We're The Replacements - The name of the band, The Replacements, vis-à-vis the idea of bands "replacing" each other at venues
  • We Want A Rock - Pun of "we want to rock"
  • The World's Address - The title is a pun on "address/a dress", as in "The world's a dress". This is implied by the references to clothing in the lyrics. The pun is explicitly referred to in the line "A sad pun that reflects a sadder mess".

Honorable mention[edit]

  • Back To Skull - Pun on "Back to school".
  • John Flansburgh's maternal grandfather, Ralph Hospital, ranked as a Brigadier General, making him General Hospital
  • The back of a John Henry-era T-shirt reads "20 big chunks of rock", in reference to both the number of songs on the album and the (geological) rock-themed "John Henry" folk tale
  • Lincoln had the working title Lincoln Calling, a pun of London Calling
  • The Ordinaires - Take their name from a pun of the name of member Fritz Van Orden

See also[edit]