Whimsical Order of the Ailing Wit

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The Whimsical Order of the Ailing Wit, aka WOAW is a tongue in cheek, self-regulating order of punsters. A TWIT (Temporary WOAW In Training) is a retired designation for a sort of apprentice or junior punster.

History of the WOAW

To Wit, And Thus Spake Brother Bombastio Verbosi upon The Feast of St. Alban

Early in the history of Wastekeepshire, it became obvious that something had to be done about the rampant punning taking place in the shire, that is the shire was ever to be considered as more than an eccentric and provincial center of bad taste, and so a pun tax of 25 cents per pun was levied and along with it was created the position of Puntiff. The first Puntiff was Lord Artur de Sole.

Some short time after this tax was levied it became clear that some members of the shire would soon go broke. So to keep the shire from having to support these impoverished miscreants, and yet still offer some semblance of protection to the general populace from their obnoxious puns, the shire created the Order of the Ailing Wit, pronounced "Ow, like "Ow, I just stubbed my toe". Its members would be exempt from the pun tax, but would be required to bear somewhere upon their person the betraying letter OAW as a warning to innocent persons who might engage them in civil conversation.

It was also at this time that the Order took as its symbol, if not proudly, at least fittingly, the infamous rubber chicken.

Shortly after its inception the order became known outside the shire of Wastekeep, and Johann Thorsson was made its first Grand Puntiff , and soon made its first member, that paragon of genteel virtue and I am quite sure totally undeserving recipient of this damning social stigma, the then Lord Dyon de Mantel.

It was not long before the Order's second and third members were added, those being Alvyn Eustace and David of Babylon, and as time passed others were added as well.

Then, oh sorry day, when Ulfred was Prince of AnTir, he decided, with no justifiable reason that I can see, to inflict this nefarious Order upon the Principality. This is why, in later years, one might hear him being referred to as Ulfred the Black Prince, or Ulfred the Vile.

Fortunately there was a problem with making the OAW a Principality Order. There was already a chartered OAW, that being the Order of Arachne's Web. Unfortunately that did not stop wily Prince Ulfred who after lengthy, and in my mind wasted, deliberation over a large jug of questionable wine, renamed it The Whimsical Order of the Ailing Wit, or WOAW, pronounced "Woe" like "Oh woe is me!", and chartered it as a Principality Order on October 17, A.S. 16, being 1982 in the Common Era. Lest the original letters OAW might be mistaken for the award of the notable and worthy Order of Arachne's Web, the name was amended and the order became forever after known as Whimsical Order of the Ailing Wit.

Shortly after An Tir became a Kingdom, Johann Thorsson turned over the scepter of the Grand Puntificate, that aforementioned chicken, to one Payne of Wooderising, who actually seemed interested in promoting the sorry group, and so the Barony of Wastekeep bid a tardy adieu to the WOAW, sending this ill begotten child out into an unsuspecting world, and fervently hoped it would eventually find the final death it so richly deserved. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case.

As I was charged to do, so have I written down this history to the best of my recollection, while remembering the words of a great and sometimes sorry Prince, "Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story."

Signed this Twenty-first day of January, AS 30, Bro. Bombastio Verbosi Scribe to His Excellency Sir Dyon de Mantel, Baron Wastekeep

= An Edict from The Crier of Their Then Majesties Tjorkill Kanne and Hlutwige Wolfkiller from The Crier Summer, AS 24

FROM THE GRAND PUNTIFF Unto their Majesties Tjorkill and Hlutwige, their Highnesses, Her Serene Highness, and the Populace of An Tir, Greetings:

...Upon consultation with their Majesties at the Alpine Pass War, I should like to announce the following as law: Who so ever shall be a member of the Whimsical Order of the Ailing Wit "WOAW", or the Macflandry counterpart the "McWOAW" and shall fail to wear their appointed badge of membership at an official SCA event (saving the Grand Puntiff, and all former Puntiffs Grand as a courtesy), shall forfit to the Crown of Antir 1/2 pound of GOOD (in particular not white) Chocolate as a pun tax for their misdeed. Said pun tax shall be paid at the earliest possible opportunity. In the event that their Majesties are not available, the tax shall be paid to the presiding Baron and Baroness of the event or to the Grand Puntiff of the Whimsical order of the ailing wit (i.e. ME.). ... In Service, Lord Rauðúlfr á Pellanari, etc. ~ From the archives of Puntiff-eX Rauþúlfr inn Orþstóri

From the 40-year Domesday Book

There's two pages of the 40-year Domesday Book, in the Wastekeep section, dedicated to the history of the WOAW. It reads as follows:


Puns are an ever present problem in our kingdom. To deal with the local infestation, the Shire of Wastekeep took action in A.S. XIV in the form of a pun tax. This levy of five and twenty pence was cast by the seneschal against any caught offending innocent ears at Wastekeep event. However, in the name of compassion towards those to whom punning was an addiction akin to the eating of opium, the Order of the Ailing Wit was created. Through membership in this order, chronic punsters - those who awed sixteen or more puns worth of taxes - were granted dispensation from the tax by the Order's Grand Puntiff, on condition that they wear in plain sight on their person the letters OAW, thus being branded as unfit for genteel conversation.

Months passed, during which time the Shire of Wastekeep came to notice of the throne. Sadly the OAW was also noticed, particularly by Ulfred, then Prince of An Tir, who judged the Order to be a "neat idea". It pleased him enough to be made a Principality-level order (Shortly becoming a Kingdom Order as An Tir was due to be granted independence from the Kingdom of the West). This idea was greeted with horror by the then Grand Puntiff, Johann Thorsson. The Puntiff's protest, pleading, hair tearing and garment rending went unheeded, and Prince Ulfred blithly cajoled Crown Prince Manfred into creating the "Whimsical Order of the Ailing Wit" at his coronation, "Whimsical" being added so that no further confusion would be created with the Order of Arachne's Web, the kingdom lacemaker's guild (or for that matter, the Order of the Alabaster Walrus, Alms for Woton or any other illustrious Order of An Tir). Johann Thorsson was unable to attend the event, and was thus unable to prevent this tragic, if not criminal, misuse of power.

To overcome frequent fits of apoplexy, Johann Thorsson is rumored to have followed the recommendation of his doctor and retired to the coast of southern France, but the tradition of the W.O.A.W continues to thrive in An Tir."

-- Hrafn Shieldbiter

Hear now the words of the most beneficent Arwen McDougall Lioncourt, Puntiff-Ex

WOAW scroll.jpg

I unearthed the Dead Sea Scrolls of The History of The Right Ignoble Whimsical Order of The Ailing Wit. NOTE: The opinions expressed about royal personages in this History are not mine!!!!

For my part, I became Grand Puntiff at Ursulmas in AS 29 (1996) by the hand of Puntiff-eX Rauthulfr inn Glothi, who stood in for the Grand Puntiff Master Donn. My ceremony was grand! I wore a black cape and a neon yellow velour Tudor French hood with rubber chicken biliments. I thought it was fetching.... others were retching... no accounting for taste I suppose.

At September Crown in AS 30 (1996), I raised more than $150 for the Kingdom Chirurgeon fund by selling a precious few DisPUNsations. These were guarantees to pun uncontrollably without fear of the WOAW Inquisition. Some people paid lots of money for them, others bought them for their friends/loved ones, and others bought them because it was a GOOD cause. It was a great way to kill time before court started!

I would not have been able to handle my role as Grand Puntiff without the support of my husband HL Emryn Lioncourt. People would interrupt our dinner to recommend people for WOAWs, catch us on Merchant's Row, try to catch me on my way into the privy, you name it. He often had to run interference for me, and he had to exercise LOTS of patience....

I passed the chicken along to yet another Master Chirurgeon (that made three in a row!) when I gave it to Baron Moonshadow at 12th Night in AS 31 (1998). For some reason he didn't want to wear the French hood.... he did give everyone chocolate though... yum! That was the snowy event in Bremerton when Brendan and Aryana stepped up, remember?

From there it went to Dame Rowan who has it still.

I hope that helps to flesh out the history of this fun award.

In Joyous Service to Vik and Inga,

Dame Arwen Lioncourt OP

Puntiff-Ex (who still gets to make one WOAW per year!)

Words of Tvorimir Danilov upon his ascension to Grand Puntiff, AS 44

Greetings, unto my facetiousful and trite rusty An Tirians!

As many of you have doubtless lent ear to the words that I was Elected by a duly assembled Punclave of the Right Mumble members of the Whimsical Order of the Ailing Wit, this past September Crown, I ask that these and even more once again give careful consideration to this, my first Puntifical Bull.

Whereas, the great tree, my Predecessor, has, for divers good and sufficient reasons, been less than fully active in this realm these past several years, and

Whereas, the transgressions in both well-honed and poor-done wit have in no wise decreased in this land during that time, and

Whereas, we find that the increase of wit and humor and *good* bad jokes is very much a matter for the health of this our land, and

Whereas, I have taken counsel with my fellow WOAWs and determined that our ranks are indeed shrunken and insufficient to the needs surrounding us, but

Whereas, we have also noted a certain hollowness in the coffers of the Raven Travel Fund, and

Whereas, our Trite Rusty WOAW, Sir Brand deus-Leons has consulted with me to determine suitable manner to address both lacks,

Now, therefore be it published far and wide in the land of An Tir that the Whimsical Order of the Ailing Wit is seeking a Few Good Puns. (Please to note the adjective, to wit: *good*!) I urge each An Tirian to search your memory and your conscience. Now the time of judgement is close at hand!

If you know of a truly exemplary, woawful, gentle we might wish to smite with the Great Chicken of State (v. 2), please write to us detailing the excellence of wit, timing, delivery and creativity you yourself have witnessed or can get your grubby hands on. We will only act on the reports of at least 3 witnessed excrescences... I mean excellences.

If you feel dread at this proclamation, though the eggs are laid at the foot of the tree, yet still they have not hatched. You have but a little time to show repuntance and goodly Piety, seeking the blessing of a Dispunsation, or a lesser Pundulgence, as I shall lay before you.

A Dispunsation will, for the term of one Reign, absolve you of any clucking over word or deed. The prudent facetiousful will, of course, pay heed to the passing of the clock, and of the crown, and not be caught between Dispunsations.

A Pundulgence will, for the term of one Event, grant that I and my Suburbs will show a certain ...forgetfulness - if sought with sufficient timing and sincerity to set aside whatever small errors in judgement we might otherwise have noticed.

Either of these can be obtained by showing unto either myself or my Suburbs sufficient evidence of repuntance, convincingly conveyed in the form of a suitable donation to the Raven Travel Fund. As proof of either Dispunsation or Pundulgence, a certificate and receipt will be provided, noting date of issue and expiration.

Further, as a last mercy, any who find our Facetiousful and our ways repugnant may contact me and register as a Heretic, inbelieving in the Puntificate. Such persons will be expunnunicate and we will, as our beliefs demand, leave them as strictly alone as we can.

Thus endeth the First Puntifical Bull of Metropolitan Tvorimir Danlov, in the first year of his Puntificate.

There are, however, two more notes to share...

First, with great gladness I welcome the rectification of an old oversight - Master Owen the Merry, OL, creator of Duck Luck and many, many other utterances most pleasing to my ear, was created a Right Mumble Member of the Whimsical Order of the Ailing Wit this past weekend, to the acclaim of all members of the Order there assembled at time. Please take a moment to hand him a handkerchief when next you see him - then watch to see what use he makes of it!

Second, with the advent of a Russian Puntiff, we will see a certain orthodoxy emerge among the WOAW. To wit: I am Grand Puntiff, yes - but as you may have noticed above, this makes me, in Russian terms, a Metropolitan. Being such a large Metropolitan in such a large land, I will quite clearly need a few Suburbs. These Suburbs are even now being interviewed and selected. My Suburbs will be my Nuncios, with delegated authority thrown from my Puntificate.

In laughter and service I greet you, and hereto set my rubber chicken.

Master Tvorimir Danilov, OP, MC, GPoAT Metropolitan v'An Tirye

Order Members

Puntiffs and Grand Puntiffs

Puntiff Lord Artur de Sole
1st. Grand Puntiff Johann Thorsson, circa 1981
Payne of Wooderising, circa 1982
Master Rauthulfr in Glothi AS 24 (1989)
Master Donn an Bronach
Dame Arwen Lioncourt, Ursulmas in AS 29 (1996)
Baron Leif Moonshadow Dalessonn, 12th Night in AS 31 (1998).
Dame Rowan
Master Tvorimir Danilov, September Crown in AS 44 (2009)

Known WOAW's

Alvyn Eustace
Oddr Þiálfason/Oddr mjǫksiglandi/Aodh Deoradhán
Anderwyn na Sionain
Mistress Arlys o Gordon
Lord Artur de Sole
Dame Arwen Lioncourt
David of Babylon
Sir Brand deus-Leons
Master Donn an Bronach
Master Sir Dyon de Mantel
Fionn Bán MacAoidh
Master Iago ab Adam
Johann Thorsson
Baron Leif Moonshadow Dalessonn
"Father" Marcos de Foronda
HL Merek Thorondursson
Master Owen the Merry
Payne of Wooderising
Master Rauthulfr in Glothi
Sir Richard Fergus Fitzalan
Dame Rowan
Master Tvorimir Danilov
Uilliam mac Ailéne mhic Seamuis
HL Iurii Levchenich
Basil Dragonstrike
Lord Padraig o Connell
Baroness Guðrun Sæbjarnarsdottir
Baron Thorkell Palsson

More discussion of the WOAW

From the Steps, 1 June XLI/2006

A WOAW is a member of the Whimsical Order of the Ailing Wit. WOAWs are those who are adjudged by the Grand Puntiff of the WOAW to be incapable of participating in conversation without indulging in puns and other word play, often to the dismay, even the disgust of more serious persons. To be just, WOAWs can be serious - briefly - but they are notorious for the disorder of their conversational style and the way even the most innocent remarks appear to inspire in them odd, off the wall remarks, usually of a humorous nature.

WOAWs are inducted into the Order at the whim of the Grand Puntiff, currently Dame Rowan. When the candidate is cornered, s/he is thwapped with a rubber chicken, and may be subjected to other humorous rites, depending on whether the thwapper, either the Grand Puntiff or a designated chicken-wielder, has indulged his or her wit and ingenuity in preplanning the encounter. It is traditional for inductees, when they realize that they are about to be thwapped, to protest, to turn and run, to struggle if they have been seized, to attempt to defend themselves (my lord Roger and Dame Rowan dueled with miniature rubber chickens in a hallway at Twelfth Night), or some other amusing expression of reluctance.

WOAWs are required to wear a warning label with the letters WOAW clearly visible somewhere upon their person at every event, so that persons who do not want to be harassed by pun-ishing wit can avoid them. As a result, most WOAWs wear their warning labels hanging from the back of their belts, giving rise to the common practice of calling the things "tails of WOAW." A WOAW who appears at an event without his or her "tail of WOAW" is honor bound to send the Grand Puntiff a pound of the chocolate of his / her choice; currently the tariff for offenders is paid in Peanut M&Ms.

I'm married to a one - WOAW, that is, not a peanut M&M (Roger of Belden Abbey) and an appreciative audience of them all. :) Personally I consider puns and word play to be high art in conversation, but I am, alas, not very original or prolific in that art myself, despite having been raised in a family where punning was considered a necessary social skill. Sitting and listening to a sorrow of several WOAWs, as I have been privileged to do, is inevitably gigglicious for the punnophile.

But if you consider puns and word play and general conversational silliness to be tedious rather than amusing, turn and saunter the other way, or if reading a list delete, whenever you see the letters WOAW. :)

Sister Guineth

From the Steps, 1 June XLI/2006

The WOAW, or Whimsical Order of the Ailing Wit, is a... recognition... bestowed upon those who are constitutionally unable to open their mouths without perpetrating word-play of the most heinous sort. You converse with a member of this select group at your peril, for it is a lead-pipe cinch that sooner or later, some truly awful pun, riddle, double-entendre, palindrome or other abomination will issue forth from their lips.

Some have likened the WOAW to a warning lable, rather along the lines of belling the cat, marginalia on maps warning "here be dragons" or having the lepers proceed clad in sackcloth and ashes and crying, "Unclean! Unclean!" Others - notably those who are recipients of this recognition - tend to view it as a license ("gots my bag limit"), to go forth and scandalize the populace with the depths of their verbal depravity.

For further information, may I recommend you to seek out, either here online, or in person at some future date, Her Most Subliminal Greatness, Dame Rowan, the Grand Puntiff of An Tir, Bearer of the Great Chicken of State?

Yours aye, Uilliam

From Nordskogen, 6 January XLII/2008

WOAW = Whimsical Order of the Ailing Wit
TWIT = Temporary WOAW In Training

Order is presided over by the Grand Puntiff. Badge of Office is a Rubber Chicken. Persons are admitted to the Order by being struck by such by the current or past Grand Puntiffs. After such an indoctrination, you have until your next event to fashion a favor of some kind with WOAW or TWIT on it.

The people smacked are those who pun excessively, or tell such jokes as to warrant warning the populace that you are approaching. Sometimes, people can fly under the chicken radar for years (I was playing in An Tir for over 12 years, off and on, before becoming a TWIT), or sometimes a single instance can cause admittance. I have a friend who made a blouse of a printed fabric that had quail or pheasants on it. When someone commented on the fabric, she said it was her pheasant blouse....a former Puntiff was in earshot and said that was worthy just on the idea alone.....

Kate the Candlemaker


People bearing this distinction are inveterate punsters and witticists who have been recognized by others of their kind and brought into their Order before the populace takes its revenge for the ceaseless hail of groaners they manage to inflict so effortlessly. WOAW is an acronym for the Whimsical Order of the Ailing Wit. The Order is headed by a Grand Puntiff. WOAW is a Kingdom recognition but does not carry with it any rank save that inherent in bad jokes. Induction into the Order is always a public affair and includes drubbin--er, dubbing with a rubber chicken, and the command that the new member wear the letters WOAW visibly on their person at all times as a warning to the populace that this individual is not capable of civil conversation. TWIT is an acronym for up-and-coming WOAW's as recognized by the Order, and stands for Temporary WOAW In Training.

-Mistress Arlys o Gordon

Strategy: Jedi Mind TWITs

It is not necessary for one to invoke the pun to be held culpable for it. Sometimes one's mere presence will cause puns to manifest in the minds of the witless, much to their dismay.

-Aodh Deoradhán (WOAW)

Spreading of the WOAW

From Baroness TSivia bas Tamara v'Amberview's Bid for Baroness of Skraeling Althing 21 January, 2009

TSivia holds service awards from both the Midrealm and Ealdormere (AoA and Grant levels), arts awards from the East, Middle, and Ealdormere (AoA, Grant, and Patent levels), is a Mentor Chirurgeon and past Midrealm Arts and Sciences Decathalon winner. In 2008 she stepped down as Kingdom Chirurgeon of Ealdormere after just shy of 3 years in the office, during which time she nurtured the ranks of the kingdom's Chirurgeonate from 4 members to approximately 30. She is a Baroness of the Court of Reynard and Brynhildr (Midrealm), Grand Puntiff of Ealdormere's Whimsical Order of the Ailing Wit, or W.O.A.W. (so proclaimed by the Grand Puntiff of An Tir), and maintains that her AoA promissory is older than about 3/4 of the populace of Ealdormere. She is currently on Vigil and contemplating the offer of Their Lupine Majesties Etain and Valfreya, to join the noble Order of the Pelican.