I don't have one
There’s a show that people are talking about these days called Ted Lasso. The context is ridiculous (the genesis of the titular character is a series of ads for NBC Sports…?) and the premise is staid (guy is brought in to coach a sport he has no experience coaching), but it seems like one of those “slow burn” cultural hits—it came out, laid in the cut for a while, and then quietly assembled a word-of-mouth campaign that transcended its handicap of streaming service (AppleTV+). It’s probably a good show—I haven’t seen it—but I can only assume its success can be mostly attributed to the name “Ted Lasso.” That’s a good fucking name.
I love a good name. Creating a good name, whether as a parent or the architect of a creative venture, requires a clarity of vision, a creative dexterity that can only be seen to be believed. On one end, you have the Deadspin Name of the Year Bracket-types; these are funny, of course, but too outlandish to be taken seriously. And on the other end, you have the type of names that can generally be associated with Back Home Boys—something like “Devon Snodgrass” or “Cole Bridgforth.” But in the sweet spot, somewhere in the middle of that sliding scale, lay the diamonds in the rough.
Of the real-life examples, there are many: Eric Bogosian, Camilla Parker Bowles, Ai Weiwei, Swin Cash, this kid I knew in college named Giancarlo Buonomo. These are names with real heft and purpose. They’re not playing around; they mean it.
But it’s in the fictional realm, in that free-for-all arena of pure creation, that we can witness the masters at work. Consider the Elmore Leonard Zone—Chili Palmer, Joe LaBrava, Boyd Crowder (played by Walton Goggins…two for one!). Maybe you’ve noticed the attention to detail in the nomenclature of The Simpsons or the Michael Schur Extended Universe—Jean-Ralphio Saperstein, Reverend Timothy Lovejoy, Cletus Spuckler, etc. Or perhaps George Smiley. Michael Clayton. Ellen Ripley. Matilda Wormwood.
And then, of course, there’s the Holy Grail of fictional names: Seinfeld. Of the many reasons this show is perfect, one must be its uncanny ability to endow even the most superfluous character with an absolute heater of a name. David Puddy, Sue Ellen Mischke, Bob Sacamano, Jake Jarmel, Izzy Mandelbaum, Jacopo “J.” Peterman, Kenny Bania.
These names are art. To be able to toss off “Bob Sacamano” so casually, so flippantly, and for a character who never actually appears on screen? Unreal.
I wish I had what it takes to come up with names like these. I wish I knew the alchemy, the equation that takes everything in the lukewarm, gloppy soup of your mind, computes the resulting trail mix, and spits out a gem like “Deuce Bigalow.” But if I had to guess, it’s probably some combination of, like, ten percent luck, twenty percent skill,
fifteen percent concentrated power of will,
Five percent pleasure
Fifty percent pain
And a hundred percent reason to remember the name.
A while ago, my mom texted our family groupchat “Did you know Bahubesh Konkali is Kumar Gandharv’s grandson?” I don’t know who either of these people are.