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A gag name is a false name intended to be humorous through its similarity to (1) a real name and (2) a term or phrase that is funny, strange, or vulgar. The source of humor stems from the double meaning behind the phrase, although use of the name without prior knowledge of the joke could also be funny. Examples of the use of gag names occur in works of fiction in which there is a roll call, a listing of names, or a prank call.
Occasionally, real people with a name that could be interpreted as a funny or vulgar phrase are subject to mockery or parody. For example, Hu Jintao, former General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, whose surname is pronounced like "who", and former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, whose surname is pronounced like "when", have occasionally been the topic of humor similar to the "Who's on First?" sketch. Former US Congressman from New Hampshire Dick Swett's name, when pronounced, sounds like common slang for male genital perspiration. Other names in politics which could be regarded as gag names include John Boehner, Harry Baals, Dick Armey, and Tiny Kox (although Boehner's surname is properly pronounced "bay-ner", it is often misunderstood as "boner"). There are also various people named Richard "Dick" Head.
Roller derby teams and players frequently use gag names. Often, these are double entendres or suggestive. For example, "Rocky Mountain Rollergirls" includes players named "Ho J. Simpson", "May Q. Pay" ("make you pay"), and "Amanda Jamitinya" ("a man to jam it in you").
Another well-known example was the Canadian Dick Assman, who received some public notoriety in 1995 for his name over the course of four months. He died in 2016.
In 2016, Seattle resident Rudy Pantoja Jr. received widespread online attention when, after a woman accosted him with a camera as he was leaving a Seattle City Council meeting, he gave his name as "Hugh Mungus" (humongous).
On April 13, 2003, James Scott of the Charleston, South Carolina, paper The Post and Courier reported that "Heywood Jablome" (a pun for "Hey, would you blow me?", "blow" being slang for fellatio) was escorted from the premises while counterprotesting Martha Burk's protest at the Masters Tournament. He subsequently admitted to his being "duped" by the protester, who was in reality a morning disc jockey for a regional FM radio station.
In 2014, Prior Lake High School students received a letter purportedly from the school district that described an upcoming "mandatory vagina inspection" for female students. The letter was signed "Barry McCockiner, Director, Department of Vaginal Corrections". The prank attracted worldwide attention and spawned copycat incidents at other schools around the country.
In 2007, a BBC radio presenter was reprimanded after tricking a fellow disc jockey into reading out a fake request for a listener named Connie Lingus (cunnilingus) from Ivan R. Don (I've an hardon) for an upcoming "69th birthday".
In July 2013, KTVU in San Francisco aired fake names of the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 pilots "Sum Ting Wong" ("something wrong"), "Wi Tu Lo" ("we too low"), "Ho Lee Fuk" ("holy fuck") and "Bang Ding Ow" (onomatopœiæ possibly involved with a crash), a false report which had been incorrectly confirmed by an NTSB intern acting "outside the scope of his authority," who, according to an NTSB spokesperson, had been "acting in good faith and trying to be helpful." The station later apologized for the error.
In January 2017, U.K. sports broadcaster Sky Sports inadvertently reported that Aberdeen had signed a Turkish footballer called "Yerdas Selzavon" (phonetically "your da (father) sells Avon", a reference to the direct-selling cosmetics company) after falling for a gag name on a fake Twitter account.
In 2017, a taxi driver filmed protesting against changes to taxi licensing in Melbourne, Australia gave his name as "Tsim Booky" to the Channel 9 Today Show; tsimbouki (τσιμπούκι) refers to fellatio in modern Greek.
Gag names can also be applied to businesses, such as Howard Stern's use of the fictitious "Sofa King": in a hoax advertisement, the store was described as being "Sofa King great" (i.e. "so fucking great"). A January 18, 2000, FCC complaint about using the phrase was dismissed. A similar sketch was performed on Saturday Night Live in early 2007, portraying Sofa King as a new store opening after the success of Mattress King. An old joke (1950s) said that the Fuller Brush Company had merged with the Schick company to become the "Fuller Schick" company.
Examples in fiction
The series of James Bond books and films often use double entendres for the names of Bond girls, such as "Honey Rider" from Dr. No, "Bibi Dahl" from For Your Eyes Only, "Holly Goodhead" from Moonraker, "Xenia Onatopp" from GoldenEye, "Chu Mei" (chew me) from The Man with the Golden Gun, "Plenty O'Toole" from Diamonds Are Forever and, most famously, "Pussy Galore" from Goldfinger. This is parodied in the Austin Powers series of spoofs on the spy genre; Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery features a villain named "Alotta Fagina", who must repeat her name several times because Austin misunderstands it. In the second sequel Austin Powers in Goldmember, Austin runs into a pair of Japanese twins named "Fook Mi" and "Fook Yu". Another example being a character from the animated Danish film Terkel in Trouble named "Dick Balsac".
In Monty Python's Life of Brian, there is an extensive use of Dog Latin as a tool for creating gag names. The protagonist's biological father is believed to be called "Naughtius Maximus", while a friend of Pontius Pilate is named "Biggus Dickus" and his wife's name is "Incontinentia Buttocks". One of Pilate's guards also mentions "Sillius Soddus".
The widely known gag name "Mike Hunt", a homonym for "my cunt", appears in the 1982 teen comedy film, Porky's, where a waitress receives a phone call and asks, "Is Mike Hunt here? Has anyone seen Mike Hunt?" ("Everybody in town!" replies a customer familiar with the gag).
Gag names have appeared prominently in several adult-oriented American animated series, including Beavis and Butthead, South Park and most notably The Simpsons, where Bart Simpson frequently calls Moe's Tavern asking for nonexistent patrons with gag names, prompting bartender Moe Szyslak to call out for the person. These gag names include, "Mike Rotch" (my crotch), "Seymour Butz" (see more butts), "Oliver Klozoff" (all of her clothes off), "Amanda Hugginkiss" (a man to hug and kiss), "Ollie Tabooger" (I'll eat a booger), and "Homer Sexual" (homosexual). This running joke is based on the real-life Tube Bar prank calls. However, in the episode "Flaming Moe's", this gag backfired against Bart when he called for a person named "Hugh Jass" ("huge ass") when it was revealed that there actually was a patron at Moe's Tavern named Hugh Jass. A more explicit version of one of these names, "Seymour Asses", appears as the name of Philip J. Fry's dog in Futurama, also from Simpsons creator Matt Groening.
The British satirist and writer Chris Morris makes use of silly names in the television programmes Brass Eye, The Day Today and his radio series On The Hour, such as "David Qunt" and "Wayne Carr" (a homophone for "wanker").
Robert De Niro has appeared in various episodes of Saturday Night Live as a homeland security officer advising the public to be on the lookout for suspects such as "Jenna Tailia" (genitalia), "M'Balz es-Hari" (my balls is hairy) and "Graabir Boubi" (grab her booby).
Shenzhen's KK100 building used to be known as the Kingkey (a near homophone of "kinky") 100 and Kingkey Finance Tower.
Examples in other languages
The 2005 South Korean television series Hello My Teacher was criticised for its inclusion of a character with the gag name "Nam Sung-ki". "Sung-ki" is a common masculine name, but "Nam Sung-ki" is homophonous with the Korean language word for "penis".
Ghil'ad Zuckermann suggests that at the end of the twentieth century there was a wave of jocular Israeli gag names, most of them based on rebracketing. He provides the following gag names, all based on common names that, when rebracketed, create a jocular meaning:
- Simkha Rif, a falafel salesperson, based on the rebracketing of sim kharíf, literally "put hot!" (masculine, singular), i.e. "add some pepper!", a sentence often heard in Israeli falafel shops.
- Asaf Lots, a stinky person, based on the rebracketing of asá flots, meaning "[he] farted (masculine, singular)", "[he] made a fart".
- Boaz Orly, a miserable person, based on the rebracketing of bo azór li, meaning "come, help me!".
- ‘Alila Maslul, an Arab female model, based on the rebracketing of alí lamaslúl, meaning "go up the catwalk!" (feminine, singular).
- Micky Pelli, a paratrooper whose parachute did not open, based on the rebracketing of mi kipél li, meaning "Who folded [it] for me?".
- Mira Tsakh, a female detective, based on the rebracketing of mi ratsákh, meaning "Who murdered?", "Who committed the murder?".
- Maya Feba, an ugly woman, based on the rebracketing of ma yafé ba, meaning "What is beautiful about her?".
- Rut Tavor, a female army operator, based on the rebracketing of rut avór, meaning "Roger, Over".
- Becky Tsur, a female stenographer, based on the rebracketing of bekitsúr, meaning "briefly, in a short manner".
- Avi Ron, pilot, based on the rebracketing of avirón, meaning "airplane".
- Beri Tsakala, an Ethiopian runner, based on the rebracketing of beritsá kalá, meaning "running lightly".
- Eli Kopter, a helicopter pilot, based on the rebracketing of helikópter, "helicopter".
- Amit Romem, a gay man, based on the rebracketing of hamitromém, literally "raising himself", referring to "homosexual man".
- Basam Shaka, an Arab drug-addict, based on basám shaká, meaning "soaked in the drug" (masculine, singular).
- Avihu Medina (the name of a famous Israeli singer, songwriter and composer), "Louis the Fifteenth", based on the rebracketing of avi hu mediná, meaning "My father is a state" (see Louis XIV of France’s L'état c'est moi, meaning "I am the state").
- The name 'Kurt C. Hose' is pronounced 'kurze Hose'. In English, this means 'short trousers'.
- A soldier called 'Butte', who has the rank of a corporal (Hauptgefreiter) is abbreviated as HG. Butte, sounding similar to 'Hagebutte' which means rose hip.
- Fenasi Kerim is a widely used Turkish gag name, based on fena sikerim, "I'll fuck (you) so bad" in Turkish. A notable live TV incident happened at a morning news show on FOX TV, in which news anchorman Fatih Portakal inadvertently pronounced the name during a segment reading messages from viewers. Portakal didn't take the prank lightly and took time on-air to berate the pranker. In another live TV Fenasi Kerim incident with the same formula for pranking, sending a message to be read on-air, reality TV presenter Yalçın Çakır told the pranker "I'll find you and do on you what you wrote".
Turkish humor also incorporates "foreign" gag names based on word play with the supposedly foreign names hinting obscene Turkish words. Examples are as follows.
- Hans Göteller, göt eller meaning "grabs ass".
- Vladimir Kalynski, kalynski being a word play on kalın sik, meaning "thick dick".
- Ivan Divandelen, divan delen meaning sofa driller, implying that "the sofa is drilled" in a sexual fashion.
- Aleksandr Siksallandr, sik sallandır meaning "swing (your) dick".
- Tutsiki Koyama or Koyarama, meaning "hold (your) dick and pound the pussy".
- Oramakoma Buramako, meaning "don't shove it there, shove it here", another implication of sexual intercourse.
- Chong Song Tung Cheng, a play on çok soktun çek, meaning "you shove it too much, pull it back"
- Yarrahimin Bashi is a widely used Turkish football meme hinting an African footballer with the word being a psuedo-foreign form of yarağımın başı, "tip of my dick" in Turkish. The meme makes fun of Turkish football clubs failing to materialize an expected transfer during the summer transfer window and resorting to transfer Yarrahimin Bashi instead. This meme incorporates the image of Nigerian defensive midfielder Onyinde Ndidi.
- El Amcukiye is a "city in Syria", another psuedo-Arabic word play with the word amcık, vagina in Turkish.
Real life names also can be used in the form of gag names by being similar to Turkish words. Examples are as follows.
- Turkish politician Refik Koraltan's surname can be used as a joke on sexual intercourse, especially when someone pronounces the surname accented and with double tee, as koralttan.
- Georgian footballer Aleksandre Amisulashvili's surname can imply vaginal lubrication in Turkish.
- Croatian footballer Alen Bokšić's surname can imply defecation, as bok and sıç- are both words for shit in Turkish as a noun and verb, respectively.
- Slovak footballer Marek Hamšík's surname also suffers from similarity to obscene Turkish words am and sik, meaning "fucking a pussy" when used together in that order.
- Göt, meaning ass in Turkish, makes jokes out of Germanic names, such as Götz, Götze, Goethe, Göttingen and Göteborg.
- Welsh footballer and manager John Benjamin Toshack's surname is extremely similar to Turkish word taşak, for testicles. Turkish TV personality Rasim Ozan Kütahyalı took advantage of that similarity to make a joke on a live football punditry show when he suggested that Fenerbahçe SK is going to hire Toshack and "squeeze the balls" to replace the then-incumbent manager of the team, Dick Advocaat.
- Indian state of Sikkim and the town of Yarram in Victoria, Australia became memes among Turkish netizens as both words more or less mean "my dick" in Turkish. A scene from the movie The Way Back in which a monk mentions of a trail to Sikkim is shared as a meme. The subtitle in the meme is extremely similar to a Turkish idiom meaning "fuck off".
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- See p. 146 in Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2003), Language Contact and Lexical Enrichment in Israeli Hebrew. Palgrave Macmillan.
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