Two characters are being introduced to each other for the first time. However the first introductee has a really wacky name
; for example, he is a businessman called "Mr. Moneygrabs". The other character feels compelled to laugh, thinking that it is a joke. However, it is not. It is, as it is pointed out, a long running and respectable family name.
(This often happens in Real Life
to people who happen to share a name with a famous person
. Or whose name is quite apropos to their profession
May overlap with It Is Pronounced Tro PAY
. Might have an Embarrassing First Name
as well. Frequently leads into Never Heard That One Before
. See also Who's on First?
. Compare Mistaken for an Imposter
. Compare Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?
, where the name isn't mistaken for fake, but is considered weird. Often overlaps with Punny Name
- A commercial for A&W Root Beer had a prospective employee repeatedly referring to his prospective boss as "Mr. Dumbass." At the end, we see the name placard on Mr. DuMass's desk, and he leans over and informs him "The name is 'Du-moss'".
"What a dumbass."
- A late-Nineties commercial for AT&T featured a woman getting a call from a guy who says his name is "Pizzeria," and that she had left her wallet in his cab. She's understandably confused, but a quick call to directory assistance reveals that the cabbie's name is actually Pete Zorria, from Brooklyn.
- In Hot Fuzz, Sergeant Nicholas Angel receives a rather odd call:
Caller: [on the phone, politely] Morning, the swan's escaped.
Angel: [looking around the office, certain it is a prank] The swan's escaped. Right, and where has the swan escaped from, exactly?
Caller: The castle.
Angel: Oh yeah, and who might you be?
Caller: Mr. Staker. Mr. Peter Ian Staker.
Angel: [annoyed] P.I. Staker? Right, PISSTAKER! COME ON!!
[Gilligan Cut to Angel, standing outside a castle in front of Mr. Staker]
Angel: Yes Mr. Staker, we'll do everything we can.
- The plot of the infamous movie Burn Hollywood Burn is that a director can't use the Alan Smithee pseudonym because his name is Alan Smithee.
- Monty Python's Life of Brian has a side-splittingly hilarious scene (particularly due to everyone valiantly failing to contain their laughter) where the Roman guards, thinking that Brian's given name for his father, Naughtius Maximus, is a joke name, try to explain the concept to Pontius Pilate by giving examples of other joke names like 'Sillius Soddus' and 'Biggus Dickus', only for Pilate to say that he knows someone by the name of Biggus Dickus. He's not kidding. Dickus is his friend and he comes to visit later. Biggus Dickus also has a wife, you know. Her name is Incontinentia... Incontinentia Buttox.
- Played with in Juno, where the title character's full name in Juno Macguff. This causes a lot of people to think she's using a fake name, or think she's 'Juneau Macguff,' like the city in Alaska.
- In David Fincher's Se7en, the detectives think that the name used on the serial killer's library card, "Jon Doe", is an obvious fake. However, they later find out that his legal name actually is "Jonathan Doe" — several unfilmed scenes from the script elaborate that he was an orphan raised in a parochial school, hence the made-up last name.
- In Meet the Parents, Greg's full name is revealed to be Gaylord Focker.
- A version in Zack and Miri Make a Porno, where Zak holds auditions for the titular porno:
Zack: What's your name?
Lester: Lester... Lester the Molester Cockenschtuff.
Zack: Wow. That's a great porn name.
Lester: I get to pick a porn name?... Then I want to be called... Pete Jones.
- Callahan's Crosstime Saloon featured a couple originally named Les Moore and Merry Glueham (pronounced "gloom"). When they got married, they swapped last names.
- The book Patient Zero give us the name of Sergeant Harvey Rabbit, a.k.a. Bunny Rabbit. (Also probably a reference to Harvey, a film and play about a possibly imaginary rabbit.)
- An unfortunate Marine in the Prince Roger series is named Ima Hooker.
- Hubertus Bigend plays it straight in the Bigend Books in that his family name is pronounced "Bayh-jhan", but he pronounces it "big-end" because he likes to annoy people. In the final book, Gareth pronounces it as two separate words - "Big End".
Stand Up Comedy
- Liz assumes Tracy has finally cracked in 30 Rock when he starts going on about seeing Dr Spaceman. Dr Spa-chem-in became one of the most hilarious recurring characters on the show.
- 30 Rock is fond of this sort of name, from Jeffrey Weinerslav to Colin O. Scopy, to NBC Broadcast Standards Chief Gaylord Felcher.
- How I Met Your Mother has Ted do this to poor Cook Poo. Twice.
- An episode of The Golden Girls had Dorothy (teaching some kind of adult education class) reading out a class register that included the name "Jim Shu" and thinking it's a joke (Gym Shoe). Turns out there actually is an Asian gentleman by that name in the class.
- In a bit of a variant on this trope, in one episode the group is looking through Blanche Devereaux's old diaries to see if she slept with Rose's traveling salesman husband many years ago. At first they are shocked that Blanche has given them a large list of everyone she's ever slept with, because the journal is titled "BED". Blanche casually explains that her full name is "Blanche Elizabeth Devereaux", and her initials just happen to spell "bed".
- The Man Show had men with actual names like "Dick Hertz" and "Mike Hunt."
- Monty Python's Flying Circus had a few:
- Mr. Smoke-too-much from The Travel Agent Sketch
Bounder: Ah good morning. I'm Bounder of Adventure.
Tourist: My name is Smoke-too-much.
Bounder: Well you'd better cut down a little then.
Bounder: You'd better cut down a little then.
Tourist: Oh I see! Cut down a little then...
Bounder: Yes...I expect you get people making jokes about your name all the time?
Tourist: No, no actually it never struck me before. Smoke...too...much... (laughs)
- Inspectors Tiger, Lookout and Theresamanbehindyer from The Agatha Christie Sketch
Inspector Tiger: Allow me to introduce myself. I'm Inspector Tiger.
Inspector Tiger: jumping Where? Where? What? Ah. Me, Tiger.
Lookout: I'm Chief Superintendent Lookout.
Lady Velloper: Look out?
Lookout: jumping What, where, oh, me, Lookout. Lookout of the Yard.
Lady Velloper: Why, what would we see?
Lookout: I'm sorry?
Lady Velloper: What would we see if we look out of the yard?
Lookout: ... I'm afraid I don't follow that at all.
Theresamanbehindyer: I'm Assistant Chief Constable Theresamanbehindyer.
- "John Stokes, this is A Sniveling Little Rat Faced Git." [...] "This is my wife, Dreary Fat Boring Old [Git]". And the kids are no better: only last week Dirty Lying Little Two-Faced came running home from school, sobbing his eyes out, and their youngest, Ghastly Spotty Horrible Vicious Little is just at the age when taunts like 'she's a git' really hurt.
- A Saturday Night Live skit from the early 1990s, with Nicolas Cage as guest host, had a bizarre variation on joke names with Cage playing an expecting father not being happy with any of the names his wife comes up with for their child, always finding a nasty, teasing nickname kids can come up with from it. The punchline comes when a man comes to their door with a message for Mr. and Mrs. Asswipe Johnson, to which the father, frustrated, informs him that his name is pronounced ah-ZWEE-pay.
- Veronica Mars: Mr. Happy Fists is actually named . . . Mr. Happy Fists. Word of God: one of the writer's favorite jokes.
- Jay Leno does a Tonight Show segment on these showing up in newspaper ads.
- Played with in Community, when Jeff makes up a class and teacher that he names "Professor Professorson," insisting, "It's Dutch! I think it means Professor!"
- Played with in The Colbert Report. The crawl on the bottom of the screen showing donors to Colbert's Super PAC apparently included a "Suq Madiq", who apparently has a father named Liqa Madiq and a mother named Munchma Quchi. Colbert proceeded to break character and laugh uncontrollably. (It's even the page image in Corpsing.)
- Colbert referred to Suq Madiq and Munchma Quchi again in the April 4, 2012 episode along with other donors Harry Balsac and Apoop Mapanz.
- Munchma Quchi was mentioned yet again in the July 15, 2013 episode, where she apparently works for KTVU as the one who penned the script for the news regarding the (fake) pilots in the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 disaster (Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk, and Bang Ding Ow).
- A 2002 The Daily Show episode had a field day out of the fact that the head of security for the FIFA World Cup (held in South Korea) was called "Han Dong-Suk"
: [Voice Of Translator]
Every precaution has been taken. Ok, stop laughing! I come from a long line of Dong-Suks! You can't go anywhere in this country without running into a Dong-Suk! STOP IT! Hey, do you know what "Mike Williams" means here? It's a LOT worse than "Dong-Suk", I can tell you THAT!
- The episode right after Osama bin Laden was killed said that Abbottabad, where he was living, sounds like a name some New Yorker might make up as a fictional place where they want to kill Bin Laden:
You give me a gun, you drop me into "Abadabad" or whatever they call their cities over there, I'll give him a shot, I'll go to Abadabad and I'll shoot him in has Abadabadabingos, you know what I'm talking about?
- In the November 8, 2013 episode, he jokes about NFL player Richie Incognito (real name).
Jon: First things first, Richie Incognito? That's a name that an undercover cop comes up with on the fly in one of those Police Academy movies.
- Scrubs has recurring characters Dr. Beardface ("It's Beard-Fa-SAY, DAMNIT!") and Dr. Mickhead.
- In Hannah Montana:
Miley: Officer- [Sees traffic officer's badge] -Diaria (she pronounced it as diarrhea)?
Officer: It's 'DI-YAR-YUH'!
- Mitch from Modern Family thought this when his dad and Cameron were talking about football great Dick Butkus.
- A sketch in Horrible Histories shows a Victorian teacher thinking her students' names are fake only to find out they're all real (this includes names like "Scary Looker" and "Princess Cheese" so it's completely understandable). Her own name turns out to be Miss Farting-Clack.
- In an episode of Father Ted, a visitor challenges Mrs. Doyle to guess his name. She spends several minutes rattling off increasingly ridiculous names such as Chewy Louie, Pee Wee Stairmaster, and Jemima Racktooie, before correctly guessing "Todd Unctious". Turns out that wasn't his name either.
- A Bit of Fry and Laurie:
- In one sketch, they were reading letters they had been sent from people responding to their asking viewers who had met someone with an odd-sounding name to write in. The people who had written the letters, were oblivious to their own bizarre names:
Stephen Fry: Ah, here's another. Dear, A Bit of Fry and Laurie, My wife's first husband was called Simon Corgi. I still split my sides when I hear that stupid name. Yours faithfully, Frigme Popplehate Freshass.
- Another sketch has Fry interviewing Laurie, who claims to have been an old friend of Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, and, in fact, "absolutely everyone." Fry starts asking Laurie about people with obviously made-up names such as "Maureen Limpwhippypippydodo"; Laurie claims to have known all of them. In the end, Fry asks about:
- The New Adventures of Old Christine: A case of Stripper/Cop Confusion happens when a handsome buff young police officer shows at Christine's place on her birthday to warn her about a prowler in the area. When he introduces himself as Officer Johnson, Christine assumes this is his stripper name.
- Lewis Black has an entire routine consisting of real life examples that he has encountered. These include Shithead (pronouced Shi-thade), Asshole (pronounced A-shola), and Abcde (pronounced Absiday). He claims you can trust him that these are real, because he's not clever enough to turn Asshole into a name.
- Rowan Atkinson did a sketch once based on a teacher reading a register full of these, although the comedy there came from the utterly deadpan delivery (he clearly knew they were the real names) and the side comments he made to the kids as he read out the names. There's a variation where the names are outright obscene ("Yourprick" is one of them), and the humor comes from his utterly deadpan Double Entendre delivery.
- The Simpsons:
- Homer tries I Have This Friend on Moe:
Homer: See, I got this friend named Joey...Joe Joe...Junior Shabadoo...
Moe: That's the worst name I ever heard.
(Random guy at bar begins to cry and runs out)
Barney: Hey, Joey Joe Joe!
Homer: Oh what the hell, it's me!
- There was another instance of this on The Simpsons. In the episode, "Flaming Moe's," Bart attempted one of his frequent prank calls on Moe's Tavern, asking for "Hugh Jass" (Huge Ass). Unfortunately, for once the bar was crowded, and thus by sheer coincidence there was an actual Hugh Jass present to whom Moe passes the phone, which takes Bart completely by surprise. Bart ends up confessing to Mr. Jass that this was a prank gone wrong. Mr. Jass doesn't seem to be offended by it and tells him better luck next time.
- In one episode, Homer gets kicked out of Moe's Tavern. Shortly afterward, someone who looks exactly like Homer, but with a suit, hat, fake mustache, and ridiculous accent walks into the bar and claims to be named "Guy Incognito". He gets thrown out of the bar, only for Homer to walk by, surprised to find a man who is his exact double. Then he gets distracted by a dog with a puffy tail.
- This came back to bite Moe one episode, when he offended Fat Tony when he was calling for his Russian contact Yuri Nator. Tony complained that he yelled at him like "he was some prank calling kid".
- There was also Springfield Elementary School teacher Mr. Glasscock, who quit sometime in the past because students kept making fun of his name. After Bart made a Heel–Face Turn (temporarily), became hall monitor and the behavior of the students saw a big improvement, Principal Skinner convinced him to come back; sadly, after Lisa (who had made a temporary Face–Heel Turn at the same time) stole all the teacher's edition textbooks and brought all the teachers close to nervous breakdowns, he quit again.
- Family Guy:
Meg: Mr. Penisburg, I quit!
- Futurama combined this with Actor Allusion when the crew encounter a robot named Billy West who they believe is Bender in disguise.
Fry: Billy West, ha! What a stupid, phony, made-up name!
- In the Phineas and Ferb episode "The Beak", there was a villain named Khaka Peu Peu (pronounced kaka poo poo) whose name apparently means "the strong fist" or "that strong fist".
- SpongeBob SquarePants:
- In one episode, Mr. Krabs offers SpongeBob and Squidward a Caribbean vacation as a prize to whoever can be the friendliest employee. SpongeBob, already friendly with all the regular customers, seems to be winning. But Squidward spots a new customer, and asks him his name. The customer rudely replies "What's it to ya?!" and angrily storms out. Squidward chases him all over Bikini Bottom, causing a fair amount of damage along the way, but finally catches up to him. Squidward yanks the wallet from the customer's pants, looks at his driver's license, and the customer's name is...Whatzit Tooya. Squidward is then imprisoned for the aforementioned city damage, but it's all right with him, because once he's out, he's got a Caribbean vacation to look forward to! That is, until Mr. Krabs visits him in jail and says the contest was for the brochure describing the vacation, not the vacation itself.
- When Mr. Krabs tries to steal back a million dollar #1 hat from SpongeBob, he makes up a ghost that "wants his hat back." SpongeBob asks his name, but the surprised Krabs can only string together syllables in a name he thinks can't possibly exist: Smitty Werbenjaegermanjensen. Turns out there was such a man, so SpongeBob buries the hat in his tomb.
- An episode of Beavis and Butt-Head had Buzzcut trying to make the titular morons laugh. He starts calling attendance, with names like Butkus and Gaylord. Naturally, they're all actual students.
- An episode of Sealab 2021 has one of the children get scolded when she calls her rather overweight classmate "Fatass McBlobicus". Turns out that's actually his name.
- In the Steven Universe episode "Marble Madness", Connie's mom says that she doesn't believe that Steven's name is real, while we all know it is.