Today’s Bizarro, with a terrible pun (and a large number of Dan Piraro’s symbols):


Start with the pun: goober driver ‘driver who’s a peanut’ (or, in a metaphorical extension, ‘driver who looks like, who’s dressed like, a peanut’), based on Uber driver ‘driver for Uber’. (If you don’t know about the Uber service, the only thing you’ll get in this cartoon is the ridiculousness of a someone in a peanut costume driving a car.)

Then the symbols. Dan Piraro says there are 7 of his symbols in this strip; for an explanation of them, see this Page.

On to goober, the lexical item at the center of the cartoon. From NOAD2, which marks it Amer. informal:

1 (also goober pea) a peanut. [OED first cite 1833 from KY; 1834 from GA]

2 often offensive a person from the southeastern US, especially Georgia or Arkansas. [a metonymic extension of sense 1]

offensive an unsophisticated person; a yokel.

OED2 gives no etymology for the word, but most other sources trace it to an African origin, probably from a Bantu lanhuage, though which one is unclear. (It wouldn’t have to originate in a single language, of course.)

The ‘unsophisticated person, yokel’ sense is, of course, not necessarily offensive; like hillbilly, it should probably be labeled  “often derogatory”– because it refers to a social group that is often disparaged, not, I think, because the label itself is offensive. So we get American tv comedies like The Beverly Hillbillies, which treated the Clampetts as figures of fun, but with affection; a title like The Compton Niggers or The West Hollywood Faggots would never fly on mainstream tv, no matter how affectionate a view such programs might take of their subjects. (Yes, these titles would also miss the phrasal overlap of The Beverly Hillbillies, but in the context that’s a minor issue.)

Which brings me to the heartwarming American tv comedies set in rural North Carolina, starring Andy Griffith and featuring, among others, the character Goober Pyle. From Wikipedia:

Goober Pyle is a fictional character in the American TV sitcom The Andy Griffith Show and its later sequel series Mayberry RFD. He was played by George Lindsey. Lindsey initially read for the part of Gomer Pyle, Goober’s cousin, which eventually went to singer Jim Nabors. The two actors had similar backgrounds; Lindsey was originally from Jasper, Alabama, while Nabors was originally from Sylacauga, Alabama.


2 Responses to “goober”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    a title like The Compton Niggers or The West Hollywood Faggots would never fly on mainstream tv, no matter how affectionate a view …

    True, although “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” might be considered a borderline case.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Not really borderline, I think. By the time “Queer Eye” came along, universities had Queer Studies programs, and queer was widely used as an identifier for individuals, television shows, movies, music, and more.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: