Zippylicious names

Today’s Zippy tells the tale of Dingburg gangland kingpin Jerry Artarama, his right-hand man Dougie Shlink, and four of their underlings:

Zippy has an intense taste for names (of people, places, whatever) that he finds funny, and Bill Griffith indulges his taste by finding Zippylicious real names. This time the flanking names, Jerry Artarama and Dougie Shlink, look to me like variants of names — Jerry’s Artarama, arts and crafts supplies stores in many locations, for instance Raleigh NC; and jazz musician Doug Schlink — but the other four are straightforwardly names of real people in the film industry, so there’s definitely a hidden theme here:

Dewey Starkey, assistant director in films;
Maurice Tombragel, film writer;
Bronislaw Kaper, film composer;
Irving Gertz, film composer.

(The -arama of Artarama is a variant of the “combining form” -(o)rama, connoting a display or spectacle, but here used like the combining form -(e)teria, used originally in names of self-service establishments but then extended to specialty stores of all sorts. Both combining forms have gotten attention on Language Log and this blog, and both are favorites of Zippy.)

There is, of course, the question of what makes certain names “funny” to certain people (please note: to certain people). All four of the first names of the film guys above strike some people as risible — Dewey probably because of Donald Duck’s nephews Huey, Louie, and Dewey; Irving because it’s stereotypically Jewish (to some people), Maurice because it strikes some Americans as prissy British, Bronislaw because it’s so “foreign” — and Dougie no doubt recalls the tv character Doogie Houser, M.D., and anyway men’s nicknames in -ie sound childish and/or feminine. Phonology no doubt plays a role in some of these judgments, and in the judgment that the last names of all six of these guys are funny on their own.

I am the bearer of a name that strikes many people as intrinsically funny, or stupid, or unpleasant, or just weird, with its stereotypically Jewish or German first name (and the association with the nebbishy Arnold Stang) and its hard-to-pronounce Eastern-European-sounding last name. I’ve had a guy laugh in my face when I told him my name — “Nobody’s name is Arnold Zwicky!” — and, though that was probably the liquor talking, it was pretty clearly the expression of his heartfelt feelings. Things are much better in Switzerland, of course. (The nuts come, like Charley’s aunt, from Brazil, the Zwickys come from Switzerland.)

Curse you, Bill Griffith, with your whitebread American name!

3 Responses to “Zippylicious names”

  1. Zippy physics « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] Bill Griffith’s penchant for finding real people with names from some common domain (see here), especially names that Zippy would savor, I did some searching on those three, but found no common […]

  2. Stowbody Gillingwater « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] Bill Griffith delights in the names he gives his Dingburger characters; he seeks out names with satisfying phonological properties (tapping into the vein of phonesthemic associations in English), semantic associations (usually, like the phonological effects, subliminal and indefinite, rather than straightforwardly meaningful), and sociocultural connections. (Some discussion of Zippylicious names here.) […]

  3. Tacolicious | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] names (names that Zippy the Pinhead or Bill Griffith find especially savory) — here and here – and on men who are scruffalicious (here) or scuffilicious (here). And on AZBlogX, some […]

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