This funny competition started about 800 years ago in England. At fairs in small villages, people eating crab apples made funny faces due to its bitter taste. It was so amusing that they decided to make a contest of who can make the silliest face. This face-pulling is called gurning. Gurning Championships take place annually in Egremont (England) to carry on the tradition.
The etymology of the word “gurn” is a little cloudy. Some trace it back to a Scottish word which means “grin” while others think the word has a very different meaning in Northern Ireland, “to grin.” Either way, both would involve a distortion of the face.
How It Is Done
This must be easier for some people, though they make it even easier to make a funny face by requiring you to also wear a horse collar at the same time. Gurning through a horse collar is known as “gurnin’ through a braffin’. A typical gurn involves projecting the lower jaw as far forward and up as possible, and covering the upper lip with the lower lip
When It Is Held?
The competition is held in mid-September each year. There are competitions for men, ladies and juniors. England’s best-known gurner is Peter Jackman, who won the world championship four times from 1998, with a face called the “Bela Lugosi”. He went to the extremes of having his teeth removed in his desperation to transform his face and secure his fifth world championship. Jackman would tragically die three years later in a golfing accident.
Current Champion –
Competing at the highest level can be very lucrative indeed and the gurners train for months beforehand.
The current champion is Ady Zivelonghi from Coventry who finally defeated multiple time winner Tommy Mattinson at the 13th attempt. He names his winning gurning face after the ‘Predator’, the creature from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s film.
Elsewhere in the world, there is the similar Mr. Ugly Competition in Zimbabwe, which requires a little more than pulling an ugly face, they are after men who are ‘naturally’ ugly!