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A gag name is a false name used to elicit humour through its simultaneous resemblance to a real name on the one hand, and to a term or phrase that is funny, strange, or vulgar on the other hand. The source of the humour is the pun and double entendre; frequently, the humour arises when an unknowing victim is induced to use the name without realising the joke. Urban legend holds that such a prank is often played on substitute teachers or others who must read a roll, for whom pranksters will switch the roll with one containing such names.
Examples in reality
In the mid-1970s Jim Davidson and John Elmo frequently called the Tube Bar, a tavern owned by Louis "Red" Deutsch, asking for names such as "Ben Dover", "Mike Hunt", "Peter Phile", "Phil Lacio", "Moe Lester", "Stu Peid" and "Al Coholic", recording and sharing Deutsch's responses. These Tube Bar prank calls were the inspiration for Bart Simpson's prank calls to Moe's Tavern in The Simpsons.
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.
Occasionally, real persons with a name that could also be read as a funny or vulgar phrase are the subject of mockery or parody because of their name. 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 verbal 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 genital perspiration. Other names in politics which could be regarded as gag names include John Boehner, 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.
Modern roller derby players frequently use gag names, both in their team names as well as the names they use for themselves. Often these are double entendre 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").
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).
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" (sounds possibly involved with a crash) provided by the NTSB during its noon newscast. The station later apologized for the error.
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 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?"
In the American animated sitcom The Simpsons, 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 include Mike Rotch ("my crotch"), Seymour Butts ("see more butts"), Oliver Clothesoff ("all of her clothes off"), Amanda Huggenkiss ("a man to hug and kiss") and Homer Sexual ("homosexual"). This running joke is based upon 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.
In the HBO series The Sopranos, Ralph Cifaretto makes a prank call to Paulie Gualtieri's mother, claiming to be "Detective Mike Hunt" with the Beaver Falls, PA Police Department.
On the CBS series How I Met Your Mother, Ted (a university professor) laughed at a student's name, Cook Pu ("Cook Poo"), assuming it was a joke name. The offended student dropped his class.
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".
The mass media have featured gag names that sound like vulgar sexual terms for vaginas ("Mike Hunt"), penises ("Dick Head", "Dikshit" ), testicles ("Harry Balls"), and sexual intercourse (with homonyms for "fucking").
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 for 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.
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