Monday, February 7, 2011

The Game Of The Name

RIDDLE: What do Anchormen, Ambassadors, Engineers, Diplomats, Governors, Judges, Medics, Pilots, Poets, and Senators have in common?

As I steered my car into Columbia, South Carolina, a billboard on the outskirts of town made me do a double-take; I was stunned to find in the buckle of the Bible-belt, a warning written in large letters: “You Can’t Beat Our Cocks!  The “Cocks” it was referring to was the local team from the University of South Carolina.  This was not the first time I’ve been amused by a college team’s moniker.  I frequently perform at the University of Akron, whose team is called the Zips.  When I was in the Middle East I learned that “zip” is the Arabic slang for penis.  Wait, it gets better, the Zips play in The Rubber Bowl.

As I travel around the country to perform at Colleges and Universities, one of the first questions I always ask the students is about the name of their team, because often it is a valuable source of comedic material.  For example, my favorite college cheer is performed by the cheerleaders for the Rhode Island School of Design, which call their team the Nads; how can you not chuckle when you hear thousands chanting “Go Nads!”

Team names are a source of amusement and bemusement; some seem redundant, such as Fighting Irish, while others do not – Hustlin’ Quakers, and some are an oxymoron, such as Little Giants.  Does it seem odd that you find Cornell’s Big Red in a Blue State (New York) and Bluefield’s Big Blues in a Red State (West Virginia)?  I can understand the Blue Wave being found in Boca Raton, Florida, and the Green Wave in New Orleans, Louisiana, or just the Waves in Malibu, California, but how did the Crimson Waves get to Whiting, Indiana, a totally land-locked state? (Or for that matter, the Crimson Tide to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which is over 200 miles from the ocean?)

The weather forecast for college sports is very scary.  There are Storms, of Crimson, Red, and Purple, as well as Cyclones, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, Nor’Easters, and of course, Thunder and Lightning.  But if nature does not kill us, we still have to worry about being attacked by Cadets, Captains, Colonels, Majors, Generals, even Presidents, armed with Sabers, Silverswords, Bullets, Bombers, and Rockets.

A citizen of the United Kingdom would feel right at home watching the Britons, Celts, Celtics, Irish, Scots, Scotties, Highlanders, or Wasps.  For a country without royalty we certainly have a lot of Lords, Barons, Dukes, Knights, Monarchs, and Kings.

If I was a student athlete, I think I might choose the school I attend based on the name of the team I would be playing for.  If my name was Jim, I’d want to play for The Jimmies, or John for The Johnnies, or Tom for The Tommies, and if I was really fat I would play for The Jumbos.  If I was gay I might be a Flying Queen, one of the Flames, perhaps a Gobbler, or a member of the only team that shares its name with a gay porno magazine, The Blue Boys.  But if I was bi-sexual, I’d be torn between The Pointers and The Setters, or if I was just bi-curious – The Wonder Boys.

What if I was a female athlete, would it bother me that my team was named after something that didn’t exist, such as a Lumberjill?  Although I’ve never seen a Minutewoman, I confess that I once got so lonely I called one at $4.99 per.  Often it is difficult for the women’s team name to correspond with the men’s, for example the women’s team for the University of Texas is called the Lady Longhorns, because as my friend, Vic Henley, pointed out, “It would be rude to call them the Cows.” 

Christians might want to join the Angels, Evangels, Preachers, Prophets, Missionaries, Bishops, Friars, Monks, Saints, or Praying Colonels.  Atheists don’t care if they are considered Demons, Devils, or part of the Inferno, and agnostics are not sure if they would rather be a Deacon or a Demon Deacon.

Students with a criminal record may want to be a Claim Jumper, Vandal, or maybe a Don (they make you an offer you can’t refuse).  And if you plan to party throughout your college years maybe you should join the Hardrockers, Brewers, Shockers, Vixens, or Wahoos, (and everyone knows the Stags have wild parties).  But be warned that if you party too much the next morning you may feel like a Ramblin’ Wreck.  (With the GPA I got from partying, I should have joined the Ephs.)

Most schools choose a mascot with a ferocious image in hopes it strikes fear in the minds of their opponents.  But I can’t imagine quaking in my boots at the thought of squaring off with the Sugar Bears, Violets, Cotton Blossoms, or Hatters (boy, are they mad).  I’m pretty sure I could outrun a Boll Weevil or a Banana Slug, and I’m certain I could dunk on a Troll.  And isn’t it an insult to call someone a Squirrel or Hokie?

Although I’m not a professional sports bookie, my fashion sense tells me the Blue Hose would not match up well with the Moccasins.  A Spaniard would think it wise to buy a ticket to see the Bulls take on the Matadors, and I’m sure he would enjoy the Oles and Toros, but everyone knows that it would be silly for the Arrows to face the Archers.  Wrestling fans and Trekies both would enjoy seeing the Vulcans take on The Rock. An entomologist would want to observe the Wasps compete against the Black Flies, while a zoologist would be riveted as the Armadillos battle the Anteaters, but a sociologist would prefer to see what happens when the Ladies encounter the Gentlemen.  And Heloise would write about the Dust Devils versus the Dirtbags.

The more I learn about team names the more questions I have.  Would the Big Green be large enough to defeat the Mean Green or the Mean Green surly enough to beat the Big Green?  Would PMS turn a Beaver into a Battlin’ Beaver? Would the Magicians be able to pull one out with the Jackrabbits?  If Army plays Navy, and Cowboys play Indians, shouldn’t the Student Princes play the Valiants?  Do you really need to go to college to learn how to build a mound, or ride a mule, or husk corn?  If not, you probably don’t need to be a Moundbuilder, Mulerider, or Cornhusker.

And how many people knew that it would be possible to see 26 games of the Eagles versus the Eagles and never see the same team twice, or that over one hundred schools have Lions, Tigers, and Bears? Oh my.  And am I the only one who didn’t know that putting the Zias, AMCats, Billikens, Blugolds, Duhawks, Geoducks, Golden Gusties, Gorloks, Maccabees, Pomeroys, or Stormy Petrals in the same sentence will make a computer’s spell-check explode?

RIDDLE: What do Anchormen, Ambassadors, Engineers, Diplomats, Governors, Judges, Medics, Pilots, Poets, and Senators have in common?
ANSWER: Jockstraps.

“The Laff Guru” has taken his message of LAUGHTER=NIRVANA to all 50 states and 23 countries. His awards include: “Comic of the Year,” “Campus Performer of the Year,” and a “Cable Ace Award.” His credits include over fifty TV appearances, including: Showtime and The Late Show. He is represented by GP Entertainment. To find out more about his award-winning comedy act please visit:

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