Grand Poobah is a term derived from the name of the haughty character Pooh-Bah in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado (1885). In this comic opera, Pooh-Bah holds numerous exalted offices, including "First Lord of the Treasury, Lord Chief Justice, Commander-in-Chief, Lord High Admiral ... Archbishop ... Lord Mayor" and "Lord High Everything Else". The name has come to be used as a mocking title for someone self-important or locally high-ranking and who either exhibits an inflated self-regard or who has limited authority while taking impressive titles.
In popular culture
- The term "Grand Poobah" was used recurringly on the television show The Flintstones as the name of a high-ranking elected position in a secret society, the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes. The main characters, Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble, were members of the lodge. The lodge is a spoof of secret societies and men's clubs like the Freemasons, the Shriners, the Elks Club and the Moose Lodge.
- The character Howard Cunningham on the TV series Happy Days was a Grand Poobah of Leopard Lodge No. 462 in Milwaukee.
- Grand Puba is an American rapper best known as a member of the group Brand Nubian.
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- Bill Levin, founder of the First Church of Cannabis in Indiana, refers to himself as the Grand Poobah of the church.
- This character was based, in part, on James Planché's Baron Factotum, the "Great-Grand-Lord-High-Everything" from The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood (1840). Williams (2010), p. 267
- "Pooh-bah", Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, accessed 14 June 2009
- "Loyal Order of Water Buffalo", Grand Lodge Freemasonry site, 8 April 2004, accessed 14 September 2009
- Holmes, Linda. "RIP Tom Bosley, One Of TV's Great Dads", National Public Radio, 19 October 2010, accessed 6 March 2018. See, e.g. episode #150, "Burlesque", aired 6 November 1979
- Kellman, Andy. Grand Puba, Allmusic, accessed 20 June 2016
- Borschel-Dan, Amanda. "Meet the Jewish grand poobah of the First Church of Cannabis", Times of Israel, 9 June 2015
- Williams, Carolyn (2010). Gilbert and Sullivan: Gender, Genre, Parody. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-14804-6.
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