Is the lack of a pun the pun?
December 23, 2003 10:17 AM   Subscribe

In an interview, Joseph Heller talks about Catch-22 and a pun based on the character Sheisskopf. He says there's an additional pun in the book, which at the time of the interview, no one had found. (more inside)

I've read the book over, and searched the usual sources, but cannot find it. Does anyone know? Here's the relevant excerpt from a 1975 Playboy interview.

Playboy: There is a minor character in Catch-22 named Scheisskopf. At one point someone refers to him as Shithead, with a capital S. Since Scheisskopf is German for shithead, it works like a pun, though it looks as if the capital letter were a typographical error. Was that intentional?

Heller: Yes, and you're the first one to comment on it. I've waited 14 years for someone to pick that up. I've blabbed it to a couple of people myself, but nobody's asked about it.

Playboy: Are there any more so-far-undetected jokes in Catch-22?

Heller: There is one more.
Playboy: Any chance you'll tell us what it is?

Heller: No chance at all.
posted by lasm to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If it's undiscovered, how do we know what it is?

posted by carter at 10:49 AM on December 23, 2003

I'm kind of puzzled by this, because Catch-22 is so filled with wordplay -- puns, allusions, double-entendres -- that I have to believe Heller was having a laugh at Playboy's expense.

Taking him at face value, could he be talking about the character Dori Duz (the sexpot friend of Sheisskopf's wife), as in Dori Duz (anyone)??? I can't imagine this being an impenetrable literary stumper over decades, though.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:02 AM on December 23, 2003

I think the idea that "no one has found" a pun is a bit - maybe egotistical? or just misguided, anyway. Anyone with basic german skills would have caught the scheisskopf joke; just because it isn't directly addressed in an interview doesn't mean it's undetected.
posted by mdn at 11:13 AM on December 23, 2003

I read Catch-22 in high school and picked up on that one. It's not like was particularly complex wordplay.
posted by bshort at 12:16 PM on December 23, 2003

I have no idea which of the many puns in Catch-22 had not been detected by 1975, however I have wondered if anyone back then (perhaps including Heller) 'caught' that the 22 Catch is the name of the magician's illusion of catching a bullet in the mouth.
posted by mischief at 1:04 AM on December 24, 2003

mdn: I think he's referring to that fact that the word "Shithead" has a capital letter (ie, its not a typo). German nouns have capital letters.
posted by davehat at 3:28 AM on December 24, 2003

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