Mrs BJ Smegma

What’s your favourite comedy name? In my more formative years, I remember being told by someone whom I respected that the use of comedy names was the last resort of the desperate. This person of course, was very, very wrong.

Re-watching Bottom, I’m appreciating some of the peripheral character names a great deal. Mr Sex, the man behind the counter in the sex shop, and Mr Rottweiller for example. It’s not the surnames that sell these names, it’s the Misters.

Comedy names lend themselves well to the sketch format. Here’s one of the all time greatest.

Now, yes, Ted Cunterblast is a work of sublime brilliance, but let’s also take a moment to enjoy Mrs Pert and Mr Twee too.

The Day Today is full of great names. Names that just warrant a list.

Hellwyn Ballard, Iggy Pop Barker, Romella Belx, Dônnnald Bethl’hem, Eugene Fraxby, Suzanna Gekkaloys, Pheeona Haahlahm, Collin Haye, Remedy Malahide, Spartacus Mills, Colin Poppshed, Beverley Smax, Suki Bapswent.

Ted Maul.

But there are some great examples of silly names in sitcoms too. So silly, they don’t really register as joke names.

Basil Fawlty.

Rimmer.

Alan B’Stard.

B’Stard is a particularly brilliant choice. It somehow manages to speak to that Tory elitism while utterly skewering his personality and his politics.

Then the silly name becomes part of the joke, and not just an extra sprinkle of flavouring.

This shouldn’t be funny really, but it is, and that’s mostly down to Routledge’s reactions. And it just occurs to me now, at least on a conscious level, that the name she chooses is just as ridiculous as the one she shuns. A bouquet of hyacinths. Might as well just call herself Floral Arrangement.

Even names that aren’t silly somehow seem it.

Norman Clegg. That just sums him up. As does Seymour Utterthwaite. Names evocative of time and place. William Simmonite.

Peggy Ollerenshaw. Ted Bovis.

Of those two, you know which one is the washed-up has-been, and which one is the dreamer who’s never going to make it.

And so we come to the moment that inspired this post in the first place. I was watching Monty Python’s Fying Circus last night, and heard a name that would have made me do a spit take, had I had a mouthful.

How on earth did they get away with Mrs BJ Smegma?

I do wonder if we’re more aware of smegma as a result of Red Dwarf, but still, you’d think it might have rung some bells somewhere.

So, what’s your favourite comedy name?

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