Third Place, 2003 PunOff — Stephen Nagle

Here is Steve Nagel’s multilingual routine which won third place at the 26th O Henry International Pun-Off.

The judge’s voting ended in a three way tie between Steve Nagel, Joseph Portier and Ben Glazer. The trophy was awarded to Steve Nagel based on the audience applause to their routines.

For full impact it should be read aloud.


I came by my confusion about words naturally. I grew up hearing my grandparents speak to me in four languages. These are the stories they told me about my family origins and their philosopies of life.

My English grandfather, Hugh Morris Wird-Pleigh said:

If ONE wants TWO follow the family THREE, it requires some FOURsight. I know. FIVE done it! Though it made me SIX sometimes. Its SEVEN harder than you think, makes you EIGHT your assi-NINE relatives, off-TEN.

My German grandfather was Otto Nobader. He said:

Drink!! I’m not l’EIN. Dats ZWEI DREI ice and cold VIER are my recipe for gut time. Can have funf! Lots of SECHS, SIEBEN. I ACHT-o know. It can be a NEUN to others, but it keeps you ZEHN!

My French/Scottish grandmother, Anne-Marie McQuick told me:

UN(h)! DEUX TROIS to listen! I came on ze ship “Leon d’Afrique,” but ze QUATRE CINQ On ze SIX! I was SEPT to begin farming huit. But E-NEUF! I met your grandfather, and DIX is how it EES!

My last grandmother was Spanish royalty. Her name was Leticia Juana Countess Blassings. The countess told me:

I am UNO DOS ‘at tres my origins QUATRO far, don’t you CINCO? No matter what anyone SEIS, SIETE your sights on OCHO want, an’ NUEVE goodbye to bad times. Other people have bad cards? Not you! You hold DIES!

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