Friday, January 7, 2011

What's In A Name?

Here's an interesting comment that I encountered this week:

"It isn't really necessary to specify 'The Clown' after the name 'Bozo'. I mean, what else would he be? Bozo the gynecologist?"

Point well taken. I immediately thought of several other unlikely possibilities, including:

Bozo the neurosurgeon
Bozo the physicist
Bozo the mortician
Bozo the librarian
Bozo the accountant
Bozo the hit man
Constable Bozo
Special Agent Bozo
...and so on.

Let's face it. People have been contemplating the importance of names at least since Shakespeare. I'm of the opinion that one's name does colour peoples' perceptions of the person. That's why Norma Jeane Mortenson changed her name to Marilyn Monroe, and Bernie Schwarz became Tony Curtis. Then there are those who employ reverse psychology, such as Arnold Dorsey, who changed his name to Engelbert Humperdinck.

One of my favorite Bloom County comic strips reveals Berke Breathed's take on the subject (click on it to make it larger):
One last thought: Just as it's not necessary to append "the clown" to the name "Bozo", it is probably equally unnecessary to add the name "Bozo" before "the politician".


The Wanderer said...

Not necessarily. Keep in mind names are culturally relative. Lucille Le Sueur felt compelled to change her name (eventually) to Joan Crawford because her fellow Americans kept mispronouncing her last name. It could also be argued that the only reason a name like oh, say, Caspar, is because of a certain cartoon... and that likely got its inspiration from an earlier cartoon about a fellow named Caspar Milquetoast. Before that, would the name have had any such association?

On the other hand, sometimes a name is chosen to reflect the character, as in John Wayne, Cary Grant, or even Bozo the clown.

Tubes said...

Maybe the job search would be going better if my name was Paul Gates, or Paul Jobs, or Paul McCartney?

Martin said...

I love it when a person does not bow to pressure to change his or her name, and makes it work. Arnold Schwarzenegger has arguably one of the goofiest of famous names. Yet because of his iconic body-building career, box-office success, and political legacy, people no longer give his awkward name a second thought.

Tubes said...

That's it! Paul Schwarzenegger!


Halmanator said...

I once spent some time thinking about what name I'd choose if I ever became famous enough to want to change my name. I was thinking Trevor Middleton. Has a nice, snooty British ring to it.