Magazine Feature / People

Allergist writes puns, prescriptions

Coughing, sneezing and watery eyes are annoying symptoms of common allergies, but Dr. Robert Boxer (BA chemistry ’53), an allergist, believes laughter may provide some relief.

Nearly 20 years ago Boxer sat in a cafeteria surrounded by other doctors and discovered his ability to evoke a hearty laugh from them by telling humorous puns.

Boxer decided then that he wanted to “prescribe” laughter. His medicine of choice: Boxer’s Shorts pun books.

Since that day in the cafeteria, Boxer has published five cartoon books with illustrator Darnell Towns (a sixth is on the way), each focused on a different theme, including medicine, sports and music. More than 10,000 copies have been sold nationwide.

The books, he quips, are “more than just a brief attempt at humor.”

Whether he is at the office, diagnosing a case of allergies or playing with his grandchildren, Boxer is always thinking of new puns.

“I always visualize the pun before I dictate it,” Boxer says. “If Darnell doesn’t think it will work, most of the time I just toss it out.”

Although Boxer is now semi-retired, he still sees patients a few days a week and still prescribes laugher to all.

“Patients are often intimidated by doctors, but by injecting appropriate humor, usually they begin to relax,” Boxer says. “A good chuckle is good medicine.”


Comments are closed.