Dingburgers having fun

A Zippy that leads with the question “Am I having fun yet?”

This is familiar territory for the strip. On Language Log, we’ve had “Am I empathetic yet?” on 1/20/07; “Are we playing “Risk” in an underground bunker beneath th’ White House yet?” on 7/14/07, with some discussion of the models for the Are We X Yet snowclone (the children’s question “Are we there yet?” and the Zippy catchphrase “Are we having fun yet?”), a quick survey of the many fillers for X, and a variant with now (“Are we middle-aged now?”); and “Am I questioning all accepted notions of gender marking & display yet?” on 6/24/08 and again on this blog on 4/20/09.

The first of these postings also has Zippy protesting,

But.. But.. You can’t legally copyright a saying! What about “Are we having fun yet?” ..It’s everywhere!

Bill Griffith, who writes the strip, should know. As he told it in a 2003 talk at the UF Comics Conference,

Asking the Unanswerable Question, “Are we having fun yet?” (link)

(talking about the strip “Back to Pinhead, the Punks and the Monks” from Yow #2 in 1979):

Says Zippy in [one] panel, screaming, while he’s playing the violin, “Let me do my tribute to fishnet stockings, are we having fun yet? Fishnet, fishnet, fishnet, fishnet.” These two groups of people, the punks and the cultish monks, and they are desperately trying to understand what Zippy is saying so they can achieve some sort of enlightenment. Anyway, that’s the first time he said, “Are we having fun yet?” Certainly not intended by me to be anything more than another non sequitur coming out of Zippy’s mind.

But I decided to exploit my saying a little bit, and in 1985, I did what is the closest thing I’ve ever done to a graphic novel—a book called, Are We Having Fun Yet?—a book in which Zippy goes through a whole series of adventures which are vaguely connected and do have a kind of conclusion at the end.

Since then people have been offering him examples endlessly. Not copyrightable, as Zippy protested to the Easter Bunny in 2007.

Apparently Griffith is the source of the catchphrase that he later began ringing variations on. If you think you have examples from before 1979, show us your money. (It’s possible there were earlier uses in the relevant sense, but it seems pretty sure that Griffith’s use crystallized the formula.)

2 Responses to “Dingburgers having fun”

  1. The Cartoon Characters Assisted Living Facility « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] “Are we having fun yet?”: this is a genuine Zippyism, whose history is noted in this posting. Griffith used the phrase in 1979 and then rang a series of changes on it, turning it into a […]

  2. Are we at Pirate’s Cove yet? | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] discussion of the history of “Are we having fun yet?” in my 8/31/10 posting “Dingburgers having fun”, along with  other examples of the Are We X Yet? snowclone (based on “Are we there […]

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