Created By: Routerie on September 1, 2012 Last Edited By: cander0000 on July 2, 2013
Nuked

Bob is a Funny Name

Use of the name Bob for humorous effect. NOT A LIST OF EVERY CHARACTER NAMED BOB.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Up for Grabs.

We used to have a page called Everythings Better With Bob. It listed every character named Bob that readers could think of. That is not a trope.

A TRS discussion voted to cut it and YKTTW Bob Is A Funny Name for cases where the name Bob is being specifically used for humorous effect. So, here it is.

Bob is a common name that seems to show up any time somebody needs a funny name. Apparently, it's just an Inherently Funny Name. This is at least partially because it's so aggressively mundane to Western ears that using it in a fantastic or unusual context comes off as humorous. Using such a mismatch for humor is related to the concept of Bathos.

Seems like Bob is almost always an accountant (the most aggressively mundane job) and/or somebody's uncle (due to a UK idiom).

It helps that the name is very short (one recognized characteristic of Inherently Funny Words) and a palindrome.

Compare Alice and Bob, Aerith and Bob. Subtrope of Inherently Funny Words.

Examples:

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[[folder:Advertising]] [[/folder]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
  • In Full Metal Panic!, during the "Toybox" arc of the first season, there is a part where Gauron is shown massacring a bunch of Mithril soldiers. One of the soldiers is heard to be screaming, "Bob! BOB!! Damn him! How dare he hurt Bob?!" Originally meant to be dramatic and scary, most of the feedback and comments on this part were of people laughing at how Narmtacular it was, since they apparently couldn't take it seriously when the guy was named "Bob". Let's face it -- Bob is just a funny name to a lot of people. It probably doesn't help that it sounded like "Bobo" in Japanese, either.
  • In Pokémon 2000, Ash Ketchum must save the world because a prophecy says that if The Chosen One named Ash doesn't, then the world will be destroyed. At that time, he wishes that his mother named him "Bob" instead.
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[[folder:Film]] [[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
  • In the Bruce Coville story "My Little Brother Is A Monster", part of the Bruce Coville's Book Of Monsters anthology, it's mentioned that in the secret language of monsters, Bob means 'the sound of a large dog puking.'
  • Harry Dresden "inherits" a powerful knowledge spirit bound inside an ancient skull from his adopted father. Out of dozens of masters over hundreds of years, Harry is the first person to give the spirit a name. His name? Bob the Skull.
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[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
  • The Fan Nickname for Benton Fraser's father in Due South is dead!Bob.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer - graveyard scene in "The Zeppo":
    Giles: There's something... different about this... menace, something in the air... The stench of death.
    Xander: Yeah, I think it's Bob.
  • Bob Bishop from Heroes. He always introduced himself (or was introduced) as the head of the Company, followed by "I'm Bob."
  • In Friends Phoebe decides to name the rat that keeps coming to her apartment Bob. When she finds out he's a girl, she says she likes Bob as a girl's name.
  • Nick At Nite's 1993 Marathon of The Bob Newhart Show -- Better Living Through Bob
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[[folder:Music]]
  • Arrogant Worms: "I once had a dog named Bob/Now Bob's a funny name for a dog/If you ever have a dog don't name him Bob"
    • Don't forget Jesus' Brother Bob:
    Jesus' brother Bob, Jesus' brother Bob
    A nobody relative of the son of God
    If only I'd been born just a little sooner
    I'd be more than the brother of God Junior
  • The Jimmy Buffett song "Bob Roberts Society Band"
  • Sparks have a song called "Here Comes Bob" about a man who crashes his car to meet new people.
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[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
  • Used constantly in Pearls Before Swine.
    • In commentary Stephen Pastis wrote, "Bob is a funny word. It has two b's (b is a funny-sounding letter), it's a palindrome, and it's a verb".
    • Not to mention "Bob" is short and easily fits into the ever shrinking panels of Newspaper Comics.
  • At one time, Garfield befriended three mice who were squatting in his house. Two of them were named after their forebears, but the third, Bob, was named for "the sound his head makes when he runs into the wall".
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[[folder:Stand Up Comedy]]
  • In a stand-up routine back in the 60's, Bill Cosby insisted that all gas station attendants have their name, "Bob", on their uniform name-tag.
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[[folder:Theater]]
  • The Reduced Shakespeare Company's performance of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) involves one of the actors calling the lighting manager 'Bob' because '2/3rds of lighting managers are named Bob' and calling every one of the audience members called up to participate 'Bob'.
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[[folder:Video Games]] [[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Comics]] [[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]] [[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]] [[/folder]]

[[folder:Other]]
  • Microsoft Bob, the annoying house-themed alternate-user-interface program that became a byword for software flops. It prominently featured "agents," which were the predecessors of the Microsoft Office Assistants. In this case, everything would probably have been better without Bob.
  • J.R. "Bob" Dobbs, pipe smoking icon of the Church of the Sub Genius.
  • In a game show parody on one of Cheech and Chong's albums, a guy named Bob has to guess his own name.
  • The name Bob is also used in the Bob campaign in the Netherlands and Belgium, to raise awareness against drunk driving. (people there would thereafter often call the designated driver The Bob)
  • When the eastern half of Canada's Northwest Territories was separated off into a new territory called Nunavut, there were some unofficial polls as to what to call the remainder. "Northwest Territories" was by far the favourite, but the runner-up was Bob.
  • Another Canadian example: The Edmonton Transit Service runs a series of ads about proper behavior on the bus called "It's All About Bob."
  • Inverted by Mitch Hedberg, who argued that since Thirteen Is Unlucky, so is the letter B, because it looks like a compressed number 13.
    "What's your name?"
    "Bob."
    "Get the fuck away!"
  • Deinterlacing videos can be a tricky process. There are several methods for performing it in software, one of the best being a combination of two methods called Bob and Weave according to this site.
  • The Bob Club
[[/folder]]
Community Feedback Replies: 50
  • September 1, 2012
    Xtifr
    So are we supposed to suggest which examples to remove here, because they have nothing to do with the humorous nature of the name?
  • September 1, 2012
    Routerie
    Right. Or, better, yet, just open the draft and remove them.
  • September 2, 2012
    Rognik
    I think I'd prefer a name like "Funny Bob" or "Bob is Funny", rather than just "Bob is a Funny Name". Unless this trope is only about a character named Bob solely for a punchline or make people laugh. If that's the case, then any example that doesn't feature Bob just to make a joke should be cut.
  • September 2, 2012
    Tallens
    The radio station Bob FM. No, it really exists.
  • September 2, 2012
    Generality
    • Doctor Who episode "The Time of Angels" when the Doctor inquires into the name of one of the soldiers he's assisting: "Oh, that's a great name, I love Bob!"
  • September 2, 2012
    Routerie
    From discussion, this isn't about funny people named Bob. It is about the name Bob being funny in itself. As you say, we must remove all examples that don't feature "Bob" just to make a joke.
  • September 3, 2012
    Rognik
    If that's the case, I just took out my metaphorical scythe and cut out every instance that didn't seem to apply to the trope. I don't know if there's any way to undo or recover what I just did, but I tried to do only those where it was more coincidental than as a joke. Let discussion commence of if further culling is needed, or perhaps for newer examples to be added.
  • September 23, 2012
    BlueGuy
    Bump.
  • September 23, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    Not sure the guy from the 1989 Batman film was treated as funny because of his name.

  • October 22, 2012
    Escher
    I wrote up a new description. Maybe it could use some expansion.
  • October 22, 2012
    McKathlin
    Cut Bob The Builder. There's no sign that the name Bob was chosen for the show because it's funny; it was probably chosen because it's a friendly-sounding name, simple to spell and pronounce.
  • October 22, 2012
    McKathlin
    Also, the entry for Bobs Game could use an edit; it currently says "Um...HELLO?", but I hadn't heard of it. There Is No Such Thing As Notability, after all.
  • October 22, 2012
    Chernoskill
    • In Terminator 2, John introduces the Terminator as "Uncle Bob" to Miguel as they arrive at the desert safehouse.
  • October 22, 2012
    tardigrade
    In the film 12 Monkeys, the homeless man / fellow time traveller repeatedly refers to James as "Bob", to possibly unintentionally humorous effect.
  • October 23, 2012
    DracMonster
    Maybe Bob Is Mundane? Most of the humor comes from it being the ultimate "normal" name.
  • October 23, 2012
    NimmerStill
  • October 23, 2012
    DaibhidC
    In the Blackadder example given by Dragonquest Z, the name is definitely being used for humorous effect, especially the way Rowan Atkinson says it.
  • October 25, 2012
    TompaDompa
    This seems like a The Same But More Specific version of Inherently Funny Words (well, in this case, names), and as such, Not A Trope.
  • October 25, 2012
    fulltimeD
    Real Life:

    Bob IS a funny name. Case in point: three doctors visit a 4th grade class to talk about Lyme's Disease. They introduce themselves as "Bob, Bob and Rob." Five minutes later, the class is singing, "Bob, bob and a rob-bob-bob and a rob-bob-bob and a rob! Bob, bob and a rob-bob-bob and a rob-bob-bob and a rob!"
  • October 26, 2012
    StarSword
    Video Games:
  • October 27, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    • Completely averted in Twin Peaks where Bob is a terrifying demon who possesses people. The anti-climactic nature of a demon having such a simple and mundane name is never mentioned. He's just really scary.
  • October 27, 2012
    SharleeD
    • In Frankenweenie, the only named kid in in Victor's class who isn't at all creepy, and who serves purely as comic relief, is Bob.

    • In the vampire edition of the Discworld Diary, a member of the Uberwald League of Temperance who's praised for his choice of a non-vampirish name is (of course) Bob.
  • October 27, 2012
    TompaDompa
    Frankly, I think this is unsalvageable. Bob is just a generic name, often the first one people think of when they have to come up with a name. However, so is Steve (albeit to a lesser extent), and possibly Bill.

    It's pretty much the informal version of John/Jane Doe.
  • October 28, 2012
    WeAreAllKosh
    Probably not of this trope because his name isn't explicitly played for humor, but Bob Pinciotti on That 70s Show is such an oafish character (and caricature of the classic 70s fad-chasing man-child goofball that was so familiar to many of us who were growing up in that decade), that I get a laugh every time the guy's name is mentioned, especially by Red addressing some goofy thing he's done.

    While the name itself may not be played for humor, I wonder if there's a tendency for "Bobs" to be oafish or comical characters in general. Guys named "Al" also seem to have this tendency.
  • October 28, 2012
    Lophotrochozoa
    @Fulltime D: We no longer have Troper Tales.
  • October 28, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    • On Arrested Development the Bluth family hire a lawyer called Bob Loblaw. In his spare time he updates his blog: The Bob Loblaw Law Blog.

    Tompa Dompa: I disagree, which is weird, because personally I don't find Bob a particularly funny name AT ALL. That said, I think there are reasons people find it so humorous.

    - It's a weird sounding word. It's so short, it's palindromic and it sounds onomatopoeic. The "o" sound is deeper than the speaker's natural voice and the hard B sound - It's a friendly and informal name and is very old-fashioned. - It's anti-climactic in scenarios where the "Bob" in question is some kind of wizard, monster or henchman.
  • October 28, 2012
    StarSword
    Rewrote the laconic and did a batch namespace edit. Maybe that'll help keep the "This character is named Bob" entries out.
  • October 28, 2012
    Sheora
    Why does this name need it's own page instead of just falling under the Inherently Funny Words page? Are we going to single out every funny name and give it it's own trope?
  • October 28, 2012
    nlpnt
    I seem to recall having read a "Game of Thrones" fanfic where the flayed man on the Bolton sigil was referred to by one and all as "Bob". At least, I *think* it's not canon...
  • October 28, 2012
    StarSword
    ^ And this falls under the trope how? Reread the laconic, please.
  • October 28, 2012
    socks
    I think I can rationalize the thinking behind this trope a bit more:

    Bob is considered an extremely mundane and Generic Name. The humor comes from the juxtaposition of the Big Bad, the wise and mighty king, fearsome warrior, or strange, alien being having as harmless and ordinary a name as Bob.
  • November 3, 2012
    Sheora
    ^ Then it should be less specific than that. Maybe fantastical character, mundane name? Or if it's about a name that is always funny when used, it should be a subtrope of Inherently Funny Words and be called Inherently Funny Names. We are WAY over specifying here.
  • November 26, 2012
    Xtifr
    I think we should be discussing which examples here don't fit. For example, I'm not sure any of the advertizing examples fit.
  • November 26, 2012
    willthiswork
    ^^^ I like that. We should make this trope more about that.
  • November 26, 2012
    HaggisMcCrablice
    The penguins in Willas Wild Life are named Inky, Blinky and Bob. Bob also counts as The Unintelligible because he never speaks, only honks, though the other two understand him perfectly.
  • November 26, 2012
    Waterlily
    The first season of ER had Polish janitor with a long and hard to pronounce name so everyone just called her Bob.
  • June 30, 2013
    BlueGuy
    Bump.
  • June 30, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    This "trope" seems to attract a lot of Zero Context Examples. I'd suggest you just removed all examples written in the form "Bob in work X" and Bob with the name of the work Pot Holed in the name. It would be a lot easier to work with this page if it wasn't just a huge list of characters named Bob (which is exactly what we're trying to avoid here).
  • June 30, 2013
    StarSword
    I'm starting to think this isn't salvageable. I've half a mind to just put an entry for Bob on Inherently Funny Words and throw this out.
  • July 1, 2013
    m8e
  • July 1, 2013
    spacemarine50
    ^^I agree. This suffered bad Trope Decay, and it's before it's launched. and if this gets through, tropes for other common names will have to be created.
  • July 1, 2013
    JohnnyCache
    • Prometheus and Bob from Kablam. (An alien and a caveman, respectively.)
  • July 1, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ When examples like these just keep popping up one after another, I too start to think this might be better discarded.
  • July 1, 2013
    capsaicinfinity
    Might the examples named Bobby fall under another trope- something like Mundanely Named Child? There seems to be a tendency, for comic effect, to give young children in humorously "wholesome" works (e.g. parodies of the pop culture of The Fifties) two-syllable names which are diminutives of adult names. These tend to be accented on the first syllable and end in "-y" or "-ie" (the sound [i] as represented in IPA). Bobby, Jimmy, and Billy seem to be favorites for boys; Susie and Sally for girls. Do We Have This One?
  • July 1, 2013
    StarSword
    ^If you think it's tropeworthy make a separate YKTTW.

    Just checked, and Bob is already listed on JustForFun.Inherently Funny Words.

    Motion to discard.
  • July 1, 2013
    Tallens
    Second.
  • July 1, 2013
    capsaicinfinity
    ^^ You're right, I should and I will. (My flimsy excuse is that it's late at night here and I'm procrastinating, so my comment turned into a ramble.)

    Edit: I turned that half-baked comment into a new YKTTW under the name Mundanely Named Child.
  • July 2, 2013
    NateTheGreat
    Motion to discard. This trope will drift into "anyone named Bob" extremely quickly. It would take a perpetual caretaker, and I don't think any of us want the job.
  • Live Action TV
    • The short lived FX early morning series, Breakfast Time, was hosted by Tom Bergeron, Laurie Hibberd... and Bob the Puppet. In fact, later when FX re tooled the series, they wanted to drop Bob altogether, so Tom Bergeron set out and started the S.O.B. Campaign (S.O.B., of course, standing for Save Our Bob).
  • July 2, 2013
    StarSword
    Three motions to discard in the last five comments, and a fourth from Ask The Tropers. Tossing.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=3xcntt7jzx8h4puvfkgo2acb&trope=DiscardedYKTTW