Let it never be said that professional wrestlers aren’t smart, erudite, and great at oratory. WWE Superstar CM Punk is all of these things, and is also a huge grammar snob. In his delightful new Nerdist Channel series Grammar Slam, he teaches people the proper usage of some commonly misused words. Of course, he does so by ripping apart the grammar of the people who write nasty things to him. It’s really the best of both worlds.
On Grammar Slam, CM Punk gives you the dirt on some of today’s most persistent (and annoying) verbal and written errors. We’re talking about “literally” vs. “figuratively,” “threw” vs. “through,” “then” vs. “than” (which is one I personally can’t stand), and the big one, “their” vs. “there” vs. “they’re.” If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between any of these, then this show is right up your angry tattooed alley.
As someone who often corrects people’s punctuation and grammar in texts and tweets, it’s nice to know there’s someone else (a terrifying, intimidating someone else) who’s just as big a pedant as I am. We caught up with CM Punk to briefly discuss his grammar obsession.
Punk isn’t exactly sure when his obsession with grammar kicked in, but he definitely thinks it’s critical to understand how to communicate properly. “I don’t even really know,” he responded when we asked when it began. “I guess, to me, language and expressing yourself is important. Whatever vehicle you use to express yourself, if it’s not done correctly, then I think that’s way more than what you’re actually saying. I mean, if you don’t properly know how to address somebody, you kind of lose all credibility. It mostly stems from people trying to criticize anything, whether it be a person, a form of art, a government, anything, and they don’t know the difference between their, there and they’re. It kind of throws up alarms and you can’t take them seriously.”
As far as the inception of Grammar Slam, he demurs and says our own Chris Hardwick pushed him for the show, “I think, originally, Chris Hardwick was kind of enamored that there was this pro wrestler that would get so wound up and scream and yell and block people on Twitter over something that a lot of people think is as minuscule as improper grammar. I think it just kind of snowballed from there. You know, maybe we can teach people grammar if we were smashing things over their heads when they got things wrong.”
Among his colleagues in the wrestling world, no one else can rival his love of good grammar. He says, “I don’t think anybody is as passionate about it as I am.” He also likes to reward those fans who get the grammar right, even if it’s someone taking a shot at him. “On Twitter, the way people hold in such high regard things like retweets, that’s the difference between a retweet and a block. I feel silly saying something like that, but I’ll retweet somebody criticizing me as long as all of the commas are there, all the punctuation’s correct, and the grammar is excellent.”
“I think grammar is super important. I think writing things down is super important,” he says as he begins to give his final reason for wanting to do the show. “You hear horror stories of schools no longer teaching cursive or writing, and it’s all computers and stuff like that. It kind of scares me in a way. You know, someday someone is going to be stranded on a desert island and they’re going to have to put a message in a bottle and throw it out to sea. They’re not going to have their MacBook to type it on.”
As we wrapped up our conversation, CM Punk made one thing very clear to us when we asked what happens if we had grammatical errors in this article: “You never get to interview me again.”
Watch and learn: