Why Bob?

I found this Speed Bump cartoon by Dave Coverly funny but it also highlights something I’ve noticed and that is that the name ‘Bob’ is used very often in comics to label someone who is the butt of the joke. For some reason, there just seems to be something funny about the name.


  1. Bob Munck says

    “Robert” was the most popular male name for most of the first half of the 20th century. Most of us use “Bob” as a nickname. When I was born in 1945, I was the fourth generation of Roberts in my family, including a Rhodes Scholar, a Commandant of West Point, a president of a college, and a Superintendent of the Air Force Academy. There have been none since.

  2. Jazzlet says

    Not just comics, the Elizabethan ‘Black Adder’ had a Bob featured in one episode, with much made of the name by Black Adder.

  3. Sunday Afternoon says

    @Jazzlet -- one of the jokes being that “Bob” was short for “Kate”. One of the most memorable episodes -- “Better a quack than a ducky!” and the first appearance of Lord Flashheart.

  4. says

    Hey, it could be worse. My brother and I are named “Richard” and “Robert”. Around Junior High or so, for some odd reason ( 😉 ) he suddenly started demanding that we call him “Rich”, not “Dick”.

  5. Mano Singham says

    There is something about the pronunciation of the word ‘Bob’ and its similar words such as cob, lob, god, etc. that differs when spoken by Americans than by us ex-British colonials. Americans tend to drag out the ‘o’ vowel sound, to say something like ‘baab’ that rhymes with ‘barb’ (the sharp point), whereas for us it is a short vowel.

    This difference is the source of spoken humor using the name like in Black Adder that Jazzlet @#2 refers to and you can listen to the difference in that clip here. In an interview, Rowan Atkinson explains how he made this simple name sound funny.

  6. jrkrideau says

    A number of years ago the Canadian Government split the North West Territories onto an eastern territory and a western territory. The western part retained the name, North West Territories. the Gov’t solicited suggestions for a name for the new eastern part.

    The largest number of submissions were “BOB”. The Gov’t went with Nunavut.

  7. Jenora Feuer says

    One of my high school teachers was named Robert Richards. He tended to get the inevitable ‘Bob Dick’ jokes out of the way on the first day himself just so nobody else could think they were clever coming up with it.

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