Waka/Jawaka, Zoot Allures! and Sheik Yerbouti: Toward a Neo Pre Post-Critical Para(dig)m in Named “Humoro(us)ness”

Guest contribution by Wendelyn Dufeaux (PhD), Professor of Arts and Humanities at
DaveArto Institute for Advanced Cultural Studies, Boffen University

To interrogate Funny Name “Theory”, as Camarilla Brilo has in Named Funniness: De-Colonizing Humoric Nominalism, is to disclose its underlying hegemonic impulse. Or, as Brilo herself puts it (11), Funny Name theory is

. . . an Empirico-centric, (“New”)tonian, logocentric, hetero-normative colonization of a tangled, messy, subversive reality that must be tamed, disciplined, brought into submission. Identity and nomenclature are subsumed within the reassuring confines of “Funny Nameology” in the process of which the so-called “humorously named” are hunted, tagged, displayed like mummified quarry, and finally mocked–all to the purpose of undergirding and fortifying its Phallocentric, Androcentric frame of ref(error)ence . . .

Brilo further observes that “the hunter/quarry relation and empirical investigator/scientific subject relation work to establish mutually re-inforcing hegemonic antipodes of oppression” (13).



One might expect that Frank (!) Zappa‘s life and oevre, presenting as they do a sprawling ooze of humoric named-ness (cf. “I Am the Slime”), might resist the long and stifling reach of Funny Name Theory. Yet far from escaping the hunter/prey snare, Zappa has provided a “target rich” environment for humorous name exploitation. Two “sub-genres” of Zappa name-humoric treatment have already begun to emerge so far in Funny Name (Stud)ies: the names of “real” “people” associated with Zappa (e.g. Don Van Vliet, also known as Captain Beefheart), and the names of “fictional” “people” (i.e. Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus and the larger assemblage of dramatis personae in The Grand Wazoo).

Zoot Allures!

Zoot Allures!

Yet, as the last name suggests, there remains one vast yet still neglected area of Zappa’s work that has been relatively unexplored, unexploited, unoccupied and un-(colon)ized within the hegemonic, predatory and arguably cis-gendered frame of reference imposed by F(un)ny Name “Theory.” We refer of course to Zappa’s song and album titles, which in the present study we shall preemptively explore as a means of intellectual resistance against nomino-centrism and culturo-intellectual annexation represented by the F(un)ny N(am)e The(or)y.

Sheik Yerbouti

Sheik Yerbouti

We shall argue (again preemptively) that Waka/Jawaka (1972), with its Lewis Carroll-inflected linguistic dadaism and undeniably onomatopoeiaic overtones, that Zoot Allures! (1976), with its subversive bi-lingual word play (“Zut alors!”) evoking both surprise and early twentieth century nostalgia (c.f. the “zoot suit”) paradoxically entwined with an implicitly erotic subtext (“Allures”), and above all that Sheik Yerbouti (1979), with its juxtaposing of the Middle Eastern “other” against the socio-historical framework of late 70s disco culture–that these al(bum) titles, far from offering an exploitative “harvest” for nominative humor theoretization work rather to problematize any such attempt at wringing meaning via the victimizing, strangling grasp of humor-nominative “theoretizationalism,” a neologism we adopt here to re(present) both the privileging of the episto-hegemaniacal hermeneutic and the proto-victimization of incipient name humor(ist) text-ploitation. We shall expostulate further upon the . . .

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Milana Vayntrub–who?

“Apparently, we love our cell phones but hate everyone else’s”-Joe Bob Briggs

Milana Vayntrub, AKA Lily Adams

Milana Vayntrub, AKA Lily Adams

Milana Aleksandrovna Vayntrub (b. March 8, 1987,  Tashkent, Uzbekistan) is an American actress whom you may not have heard of,  but you have probably seen.   She plays the somewhat smug and condescending sales person, Lily Adams, in those maddeningly ubiquitous AT&T Wireless commercials.  She’s cute as a button, but there is something about the character’s attitude that just makes you want to reach into the screen and smack her.   If you live under a rock and don’t have a TV, here is an example featuring Vayntrub with media mogul and NBA Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban.



An even better example is the one linked here, with ex-NBA player Grant Hill.  Somebody high up in AT&T marketing must be getting great seats to the NBA finals.

Anyway,  she may be a funny named actress, from a funny named place,  but her acting career is certainly more mainstream when it comes to television monikers, and Lily Adams isn’t the only example.   Her family emigrated to the U.S. from Uzbekistan when she was three years old.  By the age of five she made her professional debut in a Barbie commercial.  It seemed her parents put her up to it because they needed the money.  It’s true American success story.   And Barbie and Lily make perfect sense for somebody whose middle name is Aleksandrovna.

The rest of her acting career has been mostly in short comedy films (they still make those?) and online-only releases.  But with obvious talent, and this kind of exposure, a breakout TV or movie roll can’t be far behind.    Is there a Horsey Awards nomination in her future for funny-named entertainer of the year?   I can’t yet say, but don’t ask Lily Adams unless you’re OK with a smug response.

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Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods, and Sparkle Lee Headline a Punchy Funny Names in The News 104

Get on your Sparklehorses, folks! It’s another star-studded edition of Funny Names in the News… now completing its second year (104 weeks means 2 years, right? Right?!?)

First off, we’re going to lead with some funny names, but not so funny news from the world of sports.

Eldrick Tont "Tiger" Woods and Lindsey Vonn, in the rough. Original art by the BoFN's very own Dave!

Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods and Lindsey Vonn, in the rough. Original artistic modifications by the BoFN’s very own Dave!

Golfer Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods (yes, his real name is Eldrick Tont Woods) is in back on the singles scene again after a recent breakup with Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn … but for unclear reasons. Some sensationalistic wack-job piece said that Woods cheated, then the bastion of good journalism, People Magazine had reports from multiple sources that he didn’t, but rather that they simply grew apart, as many couples are Tont wont to do! Then Fox stepped in and helped resolve the matter by asking “Did Tiger Woods cheat?” and followed it with the shortest news article I’ve ever seen.

We don’t take sides here on the BoFN. All we know is that the guy can golf and helped break down a lot of the sport’s barriers, and we wish the parties a peaceful and smooth resolution to this.

Meanwhile, we’re having a bit of a crisis here at BoFN headquarters, as we’re trying to figure out how to fit some subtle PG-13 innuendos into a discussion about golf – there’s really no middle ground… they’re either nonexistent or extremely suggestive. Why can’t all sports be as cool as boxing (now everyone knows who’s writing this post), where they have phrases like “knockout” and “kissing the canvas.” Meanwhile, golf has terms like “ball”, “wood”, “shaft”, “hole in one”. I never thought I’d say this, but I wish golf were as gentlemanly as boxing!

So let’s just say we wish Eldrick Tont and Lindsey Caroline the best in this trying time.

Meanwhile, there is some good Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods news out there (I just love saying his full name)… former stutterer Woods sent a really nice letter to a stuttering child recently, and it reached the pages of Golf Digest. Check it out… pretty cool stuff!

Meanwhile, in Houston, there’s a new sheriff in town! Constable Ron Hickman was sworn in as the new Harris County Sheriff! He looks tough, I wouldn’t mess with the guy! Kids, stay on the right side of the law….

Ras-I Alujah Bramble, nee Abuja Bramble, nee Livingstone Bramble

You won’t believe how far back in the archives I had to go to find this pic of Ras-I Alujah (nee Abuja, nee Livingstone) Bramble. But it was all worth it!

In the very popular Nigerian political news category, we have heard reports that the Nigerian Democratic Party’s chairman Norbert Mao has been taken to the hospital. Hopefully Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan‘s good luck can give him a speedy recovery.

In other news, Nigeria’s capital recently changed from Lagos to Abuja, which reminds us of one of our favorite early BoFN posts… Ras-I Alujah (Abuja, Livingstone) Bramble … take a gander at that one if you’re feeling nostalgic.

Sparkle Lee is not to be messed with!

Sparkle Lee is not to be messed with!

Lastly, in super cool boxing news, the esteemed Sparkle Lee is set to be enshrined in the Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame.

She will become the first ref inducted, and they couldn’t have chosen a better one. Sparkle is a former cop who turned boxing referee, and has found respect and tremendous success as a referee in both women’s and men’s matches. I most recently saw Sparkle Lee ref the Sergey Kovalev vs. Blake Caparello title bout, and those two 190-lb men clearly knew who was calling the shots! A huge congratulations to Sparkle!

Happy Friday everybody, and may your weeks be as successful as Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods was in 2000. I just love saying that name!


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Breaking: Harriet Tubman selected to possibly replace Andrew Jackson on $20 bill

Breaking, breaking!

America has spoken, and as part of the Women on 20’s campaign, has voted that they’d like to see Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill.

I'd gladly carry these in my wallet. Anyone who doesn't want them, feel free to give your Tubmans to me!

I’d gladly carry these in my wallet. Anyone who doesn’t want them, feel free to give your Tubmans to me! Preferably when/if they become the official currency!

How frickin’ cool would that be? I personally think it’d be awesome! Having one of the greatest abolitionists and humanitarians in American history on the $20. Fun fact: Harriet Tubman worked as a Union Spy during the Civil War! Not too shabby! She was also famous for being a conductor on the “underground railroad”, which helped bring slaves to freedom during the slavery era.

Now this comes as slightly bad news to Andrew Jackson, the less-funny-named fella who currently occupies the $20, but I think all in all, it’s a positive development.

I’m a fan of Old Hickory – he was a gritty, competitive guy, who had a scar on his face that was inflicted by the saber of a British officer. The reason he was sabered: young Jackson refused to polish the shoes of a British officer during the Revolutionary War. Another tough-guy thing he did – his opponents started calling him “Jackass”, and he liked it so much he made it his mascot, and the Donkey became the mascot of the Democratic Party.

Now that’s some serious badassery, and Jackson will always hold a special place in American history. But his presidency was hardly a stellar one – overseeing the Trail of Tears and Indian removal act – and some of his conduct was racially insensitive and less-than-humanitarian, even for the time.

In any case, Jackson stays on the bill for now, but the Women on 20’s campaign wants to do something about it. I’m all in favor of more funny-named people on currency, so let’s do it, folks!

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Funny Names in the News Vol. 103 – Range Anxiety Edition

Hello dear readers, it’s Friday! Whoohoo! The word Friday is of course derived from the Old English “day of the Frigg”, referring to the goddess Frigg, associated with Venus, who was associated with Fridays. Why? Because she was friggin’ awesome!

Let’s get the week’s news roundup started with our Funny Names Blog Man of the Year Elon Musk, who has announced that the end is nigh for “range anxiety”. This comes as great news to folks like me who suck at golf, until you realize he’s talking about electric car type range. Still, that’s one kind of driving range, I suppose. Thanks to our AC/DC-vehicular application correspondent Dave for that nugget of news.

There was a big election in Britain yesterday, with the biggest news seemingly being that the pollsters in that country have no idea what they are doing. Also important, and unfortunate, is the loss in his campaign of Raving Monster Loony Party candidate Johnny Disco, whose campaign promises included the introduction of a 99c coin and launching a space project in his home constituency of Wythenshawe.

Johnny Disco, funny named election candidate.

Johnny Disco, unfortunately not the new prime minister of Great Britain. Maybe next time.

“I’m confident the people of Wythenshawe and Sale East want lunatics in charge”, Disco stated. He may be on to something, as most people everywhere seem to, judging by the politicians in office across the world. The Raving Loony Party appears to have beat out contending fringe party the Respect Party by several thousand votes, proving once again that they get no respect whatsoever.

Moving on to the wonderful world of sports, and news that goalkeeper Mason Springthorpe has been released from his contract at Fleetwood Town. Hopefully he’ll find a new employer at an appropriately handsomely named team to match his moniker, like Dagenham & Redbridge or Accrington Stanley or Botswana Meat Commission FC.

Next up, venture capitalism! Mmm, interesting. Wait, don’t go! It’s all about funny named venture capitalist Bill Gurley. Arnold Schwarzenegger would surely approve of this Gurley man, an early investor in Uber, the definitely-not-a-taxi-service taxi service company. He’s been talking to CNN Money, everyone’s favorite website about money in the news, about how “millennials” don’t like driving. Except at the range, but we went over that already. Thanks to our VC Correspondent D.C for that one.

Also from DC, a piece of news approved by the CDC. Mark Zuckerberg, the Facespace guru, has publicly praised author Eula Bliss‘ book “On Immunity”, causing news on the hot topic of vaccinations. With a name like Eula Bliss, I think everyone should just listen to her and be happy.

Back to sportsball news, where the Dallas Cowboys handegg team has announced the signing of offensive guy La’el Collins. We’re certainly not offended by his great name, though slightly puzzled as to how it’s pronounced. We’ll crowd source the correct answer below in the comments. A free Sprite®  to the winner (*not paid for or otherwise made free of charge by the Blog of Funny Names).

Funniest Name in the NFL Draft 2015

We love you too, Jaquiski!

And finally, but most importantly, we have the great pleasure of announcing the winner of the popular vote from last week’s Funniest Names in the NFL Draft poll. It’s a shocker.

Jaquiski Tarrt did the unprecedented, if not unthinkable, and won TBOFN Funniest Name in the NFL Draft poll on a write-in vote, nosing out early favorite Obum Gwachum.

Well deserved in my opinion.

Y’all have a Friggin’ great Friday now!

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